Does Wisconsin Require Front License Plate?

In the United States, each state has its own regulations regarding vehicle registration and license plates. One common question among drivers is whether their state requires a front license plate. 

In the case of Wisconsin, the rules regarding front license plates are of interest to many residents and visitors. Let’s delve into the specifics to understand whether Wisconsin mandates the use of front license plates on vehicles.

Wisconsin Vehicle Registration Laws

Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation (WisDOT) oversees vehicle registration and related regulations within the state. Understanding the laws and requirements regarding license plates is essential for all vehicle owners in Wisconsin.

Front License Plate Requirement

State Law Mandate: Wisconsin requires vehicles to display both front and rear license plates.

Exceptions: There are no general exceptions to this rule for passenger vehicles. All passenger cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs must have both front and rear license plates attached.

Motorcycles: Motorcycles are an exception to the rule. In Wisconsin, motorcycles are only required to display a rear license plate.

Enforcement and Penalties

Enforcement and Penalties

Enforcement: Law enforcement officers actively enforce the requirement for both front and rear license plates in Wisconsin.

Penalties: Failure to display both front and rear license plates as required by Wisconsin law can result in fines or other penalties. The exact penalty may vary depending on the circumstances and the discretion of the law enforcement officer.

Reasons for Front License Plate Requirement

Identification: Having both front and rear license plates helps law enforcement officers identify vehicles more easily, especially in situations where only one side of the vehicle is visible.

Law Enforcement: Front license plates provide additional assistance to law enforcement agencies in various situations, such as identifying vehicles involved in crimes or traffic violations captured by surveillance cameras.

Pros and Cons of Front License Plate Requirement


  • Easier identification of vehicles by law enforcement.
  • Enhanced public safety through improved vehicle identification.


  • Aesthetic concerns for vehicle owners who may prefer the clean look of a front bumper without a license plate.

Compliance with Wisconsin Law

InstallationSecurely install both front and rear license plates
VisibilityEnsure plates are clearly visible and unobstructed
AccessoriesAvoid obstruction by accessories like plate frames
RegulationsAdhere to state regulations for proper installation

It is imperative for vehicle owners to comply with Wisconsin law regarding license plate installation to avoid penalties.

Comparison with Other States

Comparison with Other States

Neighboring States: Some neighboring states of Wisconsin, such as Illinois and Minnesota, also require vehicles to display both front and rear license plates.

Variations: License plate requirements can vary significantly from state to state. For example, states like Iowa and Michigan only require rear license plates for most vehicles.


Is it mandatory to display both front and rear license plates on vehicles in Wisconsin?

Yes, Wisconsin law requires vehicles to display both front and rear license plates.

Are there any exceptions to the requirement of having a front license plate in Wisconsin?

No, there are no general exceptions for passenger vehicles; all must have both front and rear plates.

What are the consequences of not complying with Wisconsin’s front license plate requirement?

Failure to display both front and rear plates as required may result in fines or penalties.


Wisconsin does indeed require vehicles to display both front and rear license plates. This mandate is in place to aid law enforcement and promote public safety by facilitating easier identification of vehicles. 

While some vehicle owners may find the requirement inconvenient or aesthetically displeasing, compliance with Wisconsin’s front license plate law is essential to avoid potential penalties. 

Understanding and adhering to these regulations is crucial for all vehicle owners operating in the state of Wisconsin.

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