Kansas to adopt new vehicle license plate design, replacing eroded embossed tags

photo by: Kansas Department of Revenue

Gov. Laura Kelly touted a new design for Kansas license plates saturated in wheat-colored yellow and announced the plan for eradicating older. peeling embossed tags during 2024.

Topeka — Next year, a Kansas license plate with dark text on a blazing yellow background will replace the peeling raised-letter tags that have caused difficulties for law enforcement officers trying to quickly identify vehicles.

“Many of the embossed plates out on the road have become difficult to read due to significant deterioration,” said David Harper, director of the vehicle division at the Kansas Department of Revenue. “Replacing these plates will not only help law enforcement, but ensure that drivers can be easily identified in case of emergency.”

The existing Ad Astra plate, featuring the state seal and a light blue background, was released in 2008 under Gov. Sam Brownback.

Five years ago, the state began transitioning to digital production with a process that printed flat plates when ordered. However, embossed or raised-letter plates have remained on the road far beyond their anticipated life cycle. Embossed plates lose half of their reflectivity after five years, making them especially difficult to read at night.

photo by: Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector

The Kansas Department of Revenue announced a plan to rely on federal funding to eliminate an undetermined number of older Kansas license plates with eroding skins that made it difficult for law enforcement officers to distinguish numbers and letters.

The state’s plan for withdrawing an undetermined number of remaining embossed tags would coincide with the standard registration renewal schedule for vehicle owners.

The 2023 Legislature earmarked $10 million in federal funding to the project in addition to the money from the normal 50-cent fee that the state assesses for people acquiring a new plate.

Gov. Laura Kelly said Tuesday that the design overhaul, including the text “to the stars,” was a reference to the state motto, “ad astra per aspera.” It’s a Latin phrase that translates as “to the stars through hardships.”

“The new license plate design promotes the state and our sense of optimism as Kansans travel near and far,” the governor said. “It serves as a reminder that there are endless possibilities and that we should always reach for the stars.”

Bridgette Jobe, director of tourism in Kansas, said the phrase “to the stars” served as a proclamation that Kansas had an “optimistic and forward-looking spirit.”

The state Department of Revenue said vehicle owners with embossed plates who updated their registration in January and February would get a replacement with the current design on flat, print-on-demand plates.

The agency said vehicle owners with embossed tags who updated registrations from March to December would receive the new design on flat, print-on-demand plates. The revenue department said owners displaying all other printed plates would continue with the current design.

Officials said information regarding the replacement process would be included in regular renewal notices sent by mail. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found at ksrevenue.gov/dovnewplate.html.

— Tim Carpenter reports for Kansas Reflector.


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