What Is The Tag Number On A Car?

Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team

If you’re a little confused about your tag number on a car, what the vehicle registration is and what the difference is between license plates, tags and registration, then you’re not alone. It can all be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to fill in forms and documents at the DMV, as you’ll want to ensure it’s all done correctly. So, what is a tag number on a car? Let’s find out.

What Is The Tag Number On A Car?

The tag number on a car is often the term used to describe the vehicle registration tag number, which is the alphanumeric sequence that is displayed on the vehicle’s license plate. These vehicle tag numbers can vary from state to state, as the length of the number differs depending on the location.

The tag number will always be unique in any given state, and no two vehicles will have the same set of license plates in the state. It is actually illegal for two vehicles to carry the same license plate, as these registrations are designed to tag the car, identify the vehicle and trace the owner of the car when necessary. This is why the tag number and license plates will always be unique.

Some states create car tags that are 6 alphanumeric characters, whereas others use 7 characters. Other states separate the characters into two groups, whereas others have consecutive characters. In some locations, the license plate will start with letters, not numbers and the tag can also be randomized.

These license plate numbers can also go in ascending order or descending order, and the number will be based upon where the car is registered.

In the simplest terms, the vehicle tag number is the alphanumeric sequence displayed on a car’s license plates. Depending on the location or state, the length of the tag number may vary and the sequences may be unique in any state so that no two vehicles have the same set of license plates.

How Do I Find My Car Tag Number?

Your car tag number will be found on your license plate. The car tag is used in many states as a term for the license plate number, so the two actually go hand in hand with one another.

What Is A Vehicle Registration?

If you are a vehicle owner, then you will have heard of the phrase ‘vehicle registration’, but what does this mean exactly? Most people confuse vehicle registration with license plates, and vehicle identification numbers, as they all sound the same, but they are actually different.

In the most basic sense, a vehicle registration simply means that your car or truck is registered with its license plate and vehicle identification number, and is on file with the state and government. Because no two vehicle registrations are the same, the government and state are able to track the owner of the vehicle if needed for the purpose of fines, ticket, accidents and traffic infractions.

In comparison, a license plate, or vehicle tag is the alphanumeric sequence that is unique to the vehicle. In addition to this, a VIN or vehicle identification number is also specific to the vehicle, and is typically much longer than the tag, but both can be found on file as part of your vehicle registration number.

Once you purchase a car or vehicle, you are required to register it with your state, which can be done at your local DMV. Some car dealerships will have license plates with temporary registration stickers and vehicle identification numbers, and will do all of the paperwork for you when you purchase the vehicle.

Is The Tag Number And License Plate Number The Same Thing?

Yes, and no. In many states, car tag numbers is a term used to describe the license plate number, and more often than not, these terms are used interchangeably. However, in other locations, the term car tags is used for the yearly registration sticker that you place onto your license plate every time you choose to renew your vehicle’s registration.

These types of car tags will therefore display the numbers of the year in which your vehicle’s registration is valid through, like ‘21’ for 2021. Car tags in this sense can be renewed by mail or by visiting your local DMV, and then affixed to the appropriate location on your license plate. So, in some cases, people refer to the license plate as the car tag, but in reality, the actual car tag is a sticker that displays when your vehicle’s registration expires.

That being said, the license plate and tag are not exactly the same thing, as the vehicle’s license plate is state specific, and is assigned to you by the DMV when you register your vehicle. For instance, if you are buying a used car from another state, then the car’s license plates will be from that state, and you will need to register the car in your state to receive state appropriate plates. Once your car is registered, you can display the car tag sticker to show when it expires.

Why Do Cars Need Tags?

Cars need license plates to identify the vehicle, the vehicle owner and the vehicle registration. They also need car tags such as the stickers that go onto the license plates as proof and evidence of yearly registration.

A car tag is a legal requirement, and should be on your vehicle at all times, just like your registration and insurance documents, it is essential for every driver. Without having a car tag on your license plate, you could be breaking the law, and may be fined or penalized.

How To Tell When Car Tags Expire

Car tags are used on your license plate to display that the car is registered, and when this yearly registration expires. As a result, the car tag will expire on the same date as your vehicle registration expires. That being said, the car tag sticker will only show the year, so you need to be aware of when you initially registered your vehicle, so that it does not expire prematurely.


To summarize, many people use the term car tag number to refer to the alphanumeric sequence found on the license plates. However, the term car tag is also used to describe the tag sticker that you place onto your license plate to display the expiration date of your vehicle registration.

Either way, it is a legal requirement to have both a valid car tag and license plate at all times.