What Does “FP” Mean on a License Plate? Fleet Plates Explain

what does fp mean on a license plate

Have you ever noticed some vehicles on the road with the letters “FP” on their license plate? If you live in certain states like Illinois, California, or New York, you may have seen these special license plates on trucks, vans, cars, and other vehicles. But what do those two letters actually stand for?

FP stands for “Fleet Plate” on certain license plates in the United States. Fleet plates are a type of vehicle registration used to identify cars, trucks, and other vehicles that are part of an official fleet owned or leased by a company, government agency, or other organization.

In this detailed guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about FP license plates, including:

  • What FP means and what it stands for
  • Why vehicles have FP plates instead of regular plates
  • What types of vehicles qualify for FP license plates
  • How to identify FP plates on the road
  • Where FP plates are used in the US
  • The purpose and benefits of having a fleet plate
  • Potential drawbacks or downsides of FP license plates
  • The history and origins of fleet vehicle registration
  • Examples of different FP plate designs used in various states
  • How FP plates work and how fleets can qualify for them
  • The future of FP plates and fleet vehicle management

Let’s dive in and learn all about the meaning of FP license plates!

What Does FP Stand For on License Plates?

The letters “FP” printed on certain license plates stand for “Fleet Plate.” This indicates that the vehicle is part of an official fleet registered with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Secretary of State.

Some key facts about FP fleet plates:

  • FP stands for “Fleet Plate” or “Fleet Permanent”
  • Indicates the vehicle is part of a qualified fleet
  • Used for managing and registering fleets efficiently
  • Alternative to normal passenger vehicle registration

So any time you see a license plate with the prefix FP, you can assume that vehicle is part of an official fleet rather than privately owned. The FP license plate allows special registration, fees, and management of these fleet vehicles.

Why Do Some Vehicles Have FP License Plates?

So why would a vehicle need a special FP license plate instead of a standard plate?

FP plates are used for vehicles that are part of a qualified fleet registered with the state. This most often includes:

  • Company or corporate fleet vehicles
  • Government agency fleets (city, state or federal)
  • Police, fire department, and other municipal fleet vehicles
  • Leased or rented fleets
  • Public transportation bus and van fleets
  • Other large fleets registered with the state

These types of organizations often have a fleet of vehicles that they must register and manage together. FP license plates allow them to register and administer their fleet vehicles under a single fleet registration program.

This makes managing a large fleet much more efficient compared to individually registering every vehicle. There are also specific fleet registration fees, renewal rules, and management processes that come with being part of an official fleet program.

So the FP license plate serves an important purpose – it identifies a vehicle as being part of an official fleet and allows simplified registration and management of that vehicle within the fleet.

States That Use FP License Plates

Fleet vehicle license plates with the FP prefix or something similar are issued in many different states across the US as part of their fleet registration programs. These programs allow each state to identify and manage fleet vehicles under their own program requirements and fees. The exact plate format, color scheme, and program rules vary in each state. Here are some examples of states that use FP license plates or similar ones:

Illinois FP plates

Issued by the Secretary of State as part of the Fleet Registration program. Over 170,000 vehicles registered in Illinois fleet program. The format is F above P followed by 4 numbers. White background with red letters and numbers.

California FP plates

Issued by the DMV as part of the Permanent Fleet Registration program. The format is FP followed by up to 5 numbers. White background with blue letters and numbers.

New York CM plates

New York issues commercial vehicle plates displaying the letters CM. The format is CM followed by 4 numbers. Yellow background with blue letters and numbers.

Washington PERM FLEET plates

Issued to government and commercial fleets as part of the Permanent Fleet Registration program. The format is 6 numbers followed by PERM FLEET at the bottom. White background with green letters and numbers.

Florida FLEET plates

Florida issues fleet license plates to all vehicles owned or leased by companies and governments. The format is FLEET followed by 5 numbers. White background with green letters and numbers.

How Fleet License Plates Work?

how fleet license plates work

So how do these special FP license plates for fleet vehicles work exactly? What’s the process for registering and getting FP plates?

  • Company or agency must qualify for fleet registration
  • Application submitted to DMV with fleet details
  • State reviews and approves fleet for program
  • Special fleet registration fees applied
  • FP plates issued for all vehicles in fleet
  • Simplified renewal and management of fleet vehicles
  • Follows fleet registration rules instead of normal registration

The key benefit is that once qualified and registered under the fleet program, the agency or company can simplify the management and registration of all their fleet vehicles using the special FP license plates.

Instead of individually registering every vehicle, the fleet is registered as a whole. This saves significant time and money for organizations with lots of vehicles to administer. The FP plates serve as easy visual identification of vehicles that are part of the official fleet.

What Types of Vehicles Get FP Plates?

When you see an FP license plate on the road, what type of vehicle is it likely attached to?

While practices vary somewhat by state, FP plates are typically issued to vehicles like:

  • Company cars, vans and trucks
  • Government agency sedans and SUVs
  • Police squad cars and municipal vehicles
  • State and city owned maintenance trucks
  • Public transportation buses, vans, and paratransit
  • Corporate shuttles and employee transportation
  • Large rental and leasing company fleets
  • Any qualified vehicles under a fleet registration

In most cases, normal passenger vehicles owned by individuals do not qualify for FP plates – only vehicles that are company owned/leased as part of an official fleet. So personal cars and trucks would still have standard license plates.

This helps reinforce that FP plates indicate fleet vehicles only. If you see the FP prefix, you can assume that vehicle is owned by a business, government body, or other qualifying organization as part of their registered fleet.

Spotting FP License Plates on the Road

spotting fp license plates on the road

Once you know what FP means, it becomes very easy to identify fleet vehicles on the road by their license plates.

Some tips for spotting FP plates:

  • Look for the letters “FP” printed before the numbers
  • Might be a different color scheme or font
  • Fleet name may be printed on the plate
  • Likely on vans, trucks, or sedans
  • Can run the plate # to confirm it’s registered to a fleet

The FP prefix is the key identifier – it will typically be larger and very clear on the plate. Fleet plates also tend to use different color schemes and fonts to distinguish them from normal plates.

You may also notice many fleet vehicles have the company or agency name printed directly on the license plate itself. This makes it very easy to identify vehicles from specific fleets.

So next time you’re driving around, see if you can spot the FP fleet vehicle plates!

Are There Other Special License Plates?

Beyond the FP fleet plates, there are a variety of other special license plates you may see on the roads. Some other examples include:

  • Vanity Plates – Custom plates with personalized letter/number combinations
  • Specialty Plates – Unique plates for certain causes or groups
  • Commercial Plates – Special plates for taxis, livery, and other commercial vehicles
  • Government Plates – Used on government owned vehicles, often marked with “GV”
  • Dealer Plates – Used by vehicle dealerships for test drives and transport
  • Temporary Plates – Short term temporary registration plates

So while FP certainly denotes fleet vehicles, there are many other prefixes and plate types that indicate special registrations. But FP plates are the most common type used to identify fleet cars, trucks, and vans across the country.

The Purpose and Benefits of FP Fleet Plates

We’ve covered what FP means, but understanding the purpose behind fleet plates is also important. So what are the benefits of using special FP plates for fleet vehicles?

  • Simplifies registration process for large fleets
  • Fleet plates follow different registration rules/fees
  • Easy to identify vehicles that are part of official fleets
  • Helps administrate and manage fleet operations
  • Flexible option vs. registering individually

Being part of a state fleet registration program brings many advantages particularly for organizations with sizable fleets. The FP plate serves as a visible marker that the vehicle is part of the qualified fleet and registered under the special fleet rules.

This saves agencies and companies considerable time and money managing vehicles at scale. The plates also make it easy to identify fleet vehicles at a glance for administrative purposes.

So the humble FP prefix brings real benefits for fleet management that individual registration can’t provide.

Potential Drawbacks of Fleet License Plates

Of course, there are also some potential downsides or drawbacks to using FP fleet plates to be aware of:

  • Additional fees for fleet registration in some states
  • Administrative process to qualify and renew fleets
  • Misuse by non-qualifying vehicles to avoid regulations
  • No vanity/specialty plates allowed
  • Higher risk of citations on fleet vehicles
  • Limitations on individual vehicle registration options

The fleet registration programs do come with additional paperwork, fees in some cases, and renewal processes that individual registration does not. There is also risk of misuse or fleet vehicles being cited if program rules aren’t strictly followed.

So while very beneficial overall, fleet plates do have some limitations vs standard registration. But for most large organizations, the trade-off is well worth it for the convenience and management efficiency of FP plates.

The History and Origins of Fleet License Plates

Fleet vehicle license plates have been around for many decades. Let’s look back at the origins and history of FP plates:

Emerged in early 1900s as fleet vehicles became more common

States saw need for fleet registration programs Simplified process for registering groups of vehicles Adoption spread as fleet use grew over time Now widely used by companies, government agencies, etc Technology makes managing modern fleets even easier As large fleets came into wider use in commerce and government in the early 20th century, the need arose for a simplified way to register and manage groups of vehicles together. This led to the origination of fleet license plates and programs.

The FP prefix emerged as an easy way to visually identify and administer fleet vehicles. And fleet registration has now become a standard practice across the country and continues evolving thanks to modern technology.

So next time you see an FP plate, you can appreciate it represents decades of fleet management history!

Examples Of Different State FP Plate Designs

Since each state administers their own fleet registration program, there are many different FP plate designs and formats used across the US.

Here are a few examples of how FP plates appear in various states:

  • California – Green plate with “FP” prefix and up to 5 numbers
  • Illinois – Standard blue plate with “FP” prefix
  • New York – Orange plate with “CM” prefix for commercial fleet
  • Florida – White plate with a green stripe and a red-orange outline and “FLEET” printed
  • Washington – White plate with “PERM FLEET” on bottom
  • Texas – White fleet plate with blue header and “FLEET” printed
  • Arizona – Yellow plate with sunburst logo and “CV” commercial prefix

As you can see, some states use the traditional FP prefix while others spell out “FLEET” or use other codes. Color schemes and logos also help distinguish fleet plates from normal passenger plates in each state.

So when traveling across the US, keep an eye out for the different FP plate designs used across state lines!

How FP Plates Work and How Fleets Can Qualify?

If you operate a fleet of vehicles, how do you go about getting FP license plates for your fleet? What’s the process and requirements for obtaining FP plates from your state motor vehicle department?

Here’s a quick overview:

  • Determine if your fleet qualifies based on state requirements
  • Fleet operator must submit application to DMV
  • Provide details like fleet size, vehicle types, ownership info
  • DMV reviews qualifications and approves fleet
  • Fleet registration fees determined based on vehicles
  • New FP plates issued for all vehicles in fleet
  • Simplified process for replacing/adding vehicles
  • Periodic renewals to maintain fleet registration

The key steps are submitting details on your fleet, getting approval by the state as an official registered fleet, paying any applicable fees, and then getting your new FP plates. It’s a straightforward process for eligible organizations.

Reaching the FP plate issuing milestone makes managing your fleet of vehicles so much easier thanks to streamlined administration under your state’s fleet registration program.

The Future of FP License Plates

Fleet registration has remained a constant for over a century, but how might FP license plates evolve in the future?

  • Wider adoption of digital license plates could expand features
  • Better fleet tracking and management via connected technology
  • Data analysis from FP plates for analytics
  • Changes based on emerging vehicle trends
  • Potential for abuse requires periodic policy updates
  • Convenience and management efficiencies will continue

In many ways FP plates are just as relevant today as decades ago thanks to the fundamental benefits of unified fleet registration. But new technologies could allow for even more advanced fleet management using digital versions of FP plates.

Integrating connectivity, data tracking, and other features into fleet plates could provide new ways to optimize large vehicle fleets in the future through innovation on the humble FP plate.


The next time you spot a set of license plates labeled with the letters FP, you now know that stands for “Fleet Plate” and indicates a vehicle that is part of an official fleet.

Understanding how FP plates work provides insight into fleet management for organizations with lots of vehicles to administer. Special fleet registration using FP plates brings convenience and efficiency benefits to companies, government agencies, and other groups operating vehicle fleets.

While the origins of fleet vehicle license plates dates back over a hundred years, they remain an important identification and management tool for fleets today. And innovations may soon expand the capabilities of FP plates.

So now that you know all about the meaning of FP license plates, be sure to keep an eye out for them on the road and appreciate how important they are for streamlined fleet administration!

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