What Does An Apportioned License Plate Mean?

An apportioned license plate, also known as an International Registration Plan (IRP) plate, is a unique type of vehicle registration that allows commercial vehicles to operate across multiple states or jurisdictions without the need for individual state registrations. 

The designers have created this system to simplify the registration process for businesses that operate in multiple states, reducing the administrative burden and costs associated with traditional state-by-state registrations.

Understanding Apportioned License Plates

Commercial vehicles that traverse state lines, like buses, truckers, and tractor-trailers, are the main users of corresponding license plates. 

The basis of the apportioned registration system is the concept of ‘apportionment,’ which asserts that the registration costs paid by the owner of the vehicle are allocated among the states in which it is registered, taking into account the mileage of the vehicle in each state.

The International Registration Plan (IRP)

The International Registration Plan (IRP)

Overseeing the apportioned license plate system in both the US and Canada is the International Registration Plan (IRP). 

The reciprocal arrangement known as the International Registration Program (IRP) between participating jurisdictions allows commercial vehicles to register in their base state or province and operate in other member states or provinces without requiring additional registrations.

Benefits of Apportioned License Plates

Apportioned license plates offer several benefits to commercial vehicle owners and operators, including:

Reduced Administrative Burden

Owners of commercial vehicles can stop registering their vehicles in every state they operate in by using an allotted license plate.

They can register the car in their home province or state and divide the registration costs among the places the car visits. But, should I blur my license plate before sharing photos online?

Cost Savings

By reducing the need for multiple state registrations, apportioned license plates can result in significant cost savings for commercial vehicle owners. The fees paid for the apportioned registration are typically lower than the combined cost of registering the vehicle in multiple states.

Simplified Compliance

Apportioned license plates simplify the compliance process for commercial vehicle owners. Instead of tracking and managing multiple state registrations, they only need to maintain a single apportioned registration, which is valid across all participating jurisdictions.

Improved Efficiency

The apportioned license plate system allows commercial vehicles to move more efficiently across state lines, as they no longer need to stop at state borders to obtain additional registrations or permits.

How Apportioned License Plates Work

How Apportioned License Plates Work

The process of obtaining and using an apportioned license plate involves several steps:

Establishing a Base Jurisdiction

The first step in the apportioned license plate process is to establish a base jurisdiction. This jurisdiction is typically the state or province where the commercial vehicle is primarily garaged or operated.

    This base jurisdiction will be responsible for issuing the apportioned license plate and managing the registration process, including queries such as ‘What Can Cops See From License Plate?’

    Calculating Apportioned Fees

    In each participating jurisdiction, officials calculate the registration fees for an apportioned license plate based on the vehicle’s projected mileage.

    The base jurisdiction will collect the total registration fees. Then, it will distribute the appropriate portions to the other states or provinces where the vehicle operates.

    Displaying the Apportioned Plate

    Apportioned license plates are typically designed to be easily identifiable, often featuring a unique color scheme or design. The plate will display the name or abbreviation of the base jurisdiction, as well as any required identification numbers or codes.

    Maintaining Apportioned Registration

    Commercial vehicle owners must maintain their apportioned registration by regularly reporting their vehicle’s mileage in each participating jurisdiction. 

    Officials use this information to properly apportion registration fees among the states or provinces.

    Apportioned License Plate Requirements

    To qualify for an apportioned license plate, commercial vehicles must meet certain requirements, which can vary by jurisdiction. Some common requirements include:

    Minimum Gross Vehicle WeightCommercial vehicles must meet a minimum gross vehicle weight (GVW) threshold, typically around 26,000 pounds (11,793 kg).
    Interstate OperationThe vehicle must be used for interstate commerce, meaning it must travel across state or provincial borders.
    Base Jurisdiction ResidencyThe vehicle owner must establish a base jurisdiction, which is typically the state or province where the vehicle is primarily garaged or operated.
    Mileage ReportingVehicle owners must regularly report the mileage their vehicle has accumulated in each participating jurisdiction.

    Apportioned License Plate Exemptions

    In some cases, certain commercial vehicles may be exempt from the apportioned license plate requirements. These exemptions can include:

    • Vehicles used solely within a single state or province
    • Vehicles with a GVW below the minimum threshold
    • Vehicles used for personal, non-commercial purposes


    What does an apportioned license plate mean?

    Apportioned license plates enable vehicles to travel across multiple jurisdictions. We calculate taxes and fees based on the percentage of miles driven in each state or province.

    How is the fee calculated for an apportioned license plate?

    Authorities calculate the fee for an apportioned license plate based on factors such as the percentage of miles driven in each jurisdiction. It also considers the weight of the vehicle.

    Who needs an apportioned license plate?

    Vehicles that operate in more than one jurisdiction, such as commercial trucks or buses, typically need an apportioned license plate.


    Apportioned license plates are a vital part of the commercial transportation sector. They offer a simple and economical option for companies conducting business in several states or jurisdictions.

    Commercial vehicle owners can guarantee compliance, lessen administrative hassles, and boost operational efficiency. Being aware of the advantages, prerequisites, and procedures associated with acquiring and preserving an apportioned license plate achieves this.

    Leave a Comment