With its iconic imagery of a sunset over the Pacific, the California sunset license plate is one of the most recognizable plates in the United States. For drivers in the Golden State, this special plate provides a chance to showcase local pride.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The sunset plate features colorful artwork of a California sunset. It’s available to all CA drivers for an extra fee when registering your vehicle.

This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about the sunset license plate, from its origins and design to how you can get one for your own car.

History of the California Sunset Plate

Inspiration Behind the Design

The stunning orange and red hues of the California sunset serve as the inspiration behind this specialty license plate design. California is renowned for its beautiful sunsets over the Pacific Ocean, which illuminate the sky with vibrant, warm colors as the sun dips below the horizon.

To showcase this iconic part of California landscapes, the DMV worked with an artist to create a colorful sunset image for the license plate. The intense shades of orange, red, pink and purple evoke the magical sunsets you can experience across the Golden State.

The scene captures the essence of dusk along the California coastline with palm trees in the foreground. What better way to celebrate the magnificence of a California sunset than by displaying it on your car!

When It Was First Introduced

The California Sunset license plate made its debut in January 2021 as one of three new plate designs offered by the DMV. It joined other scenic plates like the San Francisco Skyline, Yosemite and Lake Tahoe designs which had already been available for years.

With Californians unable to travel as much in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, the new plates arrived at the perfect time to showcase the state’s natural beauty. The Sunset plate quickly emerged as a fan favorite thanks to its vibrant colors and ability to brighten up any vehicle.

To date, over 50,000 Sunset plates have been issued, making it a popular way to add some California spirit to daily drives. Clearly the magnificent sunset design resonates with Golden State residents looking for a fun way to showcase their pride.

California Sunset Plate Design and Colors

The California Sunset License Plate is not just a standard license plate, but a unique design that represents the rich history and vibrant culture of California. The design of the plate features a stunning depiction of a colorful sunset over a palm tree-lined beach, capturing the essence of the Golden State.

Breakdown of Plate Elements

The California Sunset License Plate design consists of several key elements that make it instantly recognizable. At the top of the plate, the word “California” is prominently displayed in bold, black letters.

Below it, the iconic California bear sits proudly, symbolizing the state’s strength and resilience.

Beneath the bear, the words “Sunset” and “1963” are featured, paying homage to the year the California Sunset Plate was first introduced. The numbers “63” are displayed in a sleek, stylish font, adding a modern touch to the design.

The background of the plate showcases a breathtaking sunset scene, with vibrant orange and yellow hues blending into a serene blue sky.

Color Schemes and Variations

The color scheme of the California Sunset License Plate is carefully chosen to reflect the beauty and diversity of the state. The warm tones of orange and yellow represent the stunning sunsets that can be witnessed along California’s coastline, while the blue sky symbolizes the clear skies and sunny weather that the state is famous for.

While the California Sunset Plate design remains consistent, there are variations in color schemes available for drivers to choose from. These variations include a vibrant purple and pink color scheme, a cool blue and green color scheme, and a classic black and white color scheme.

Each variation adds a unique twist to the design, allowing drivers to personalize their plates while still showcasing their love for California.

To obtain a California Sunset License Plate, individuals can visit the official website of the California Department of Motor Vehicles at www.dmv.ca.gov and follow the instructions for ordering personalized plates.

The process is simple and straightforward, allowing drivers to proudly display their love for California and its iconic sunset design on their vehicles.

Fees and Costs for the Sunset Plate

One-time Fees

Obtaining a California Sunset license plate involves paying a few one-time fees. These fees include the initial application fee, the production fee, and the plate fee. The initial application fee covers the administrative costs associated with processing your application.

The production fee covers the manufacturing and distribution expenses for creating your unique Sunset plate. Finally, the plate fee is the cost of the actual license plate itself.

The specific amounts for these fees may vary, so it’s best to check the official California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website for the most up-to-date information. Additionally, it’s important to note that these fees are in addition to any regular registration fees that may apply.

Annual Renewal Costs

Once you have obtained your California Sunset license plate, you will need to renew it annually. The renewal process involves paying a renewal fee, which helps cover the administrative costs of processing your renewal application.

It’s important to remember that this renewal fee is in addition to any regular registration renewal fees that may apply.

The annual renewal fee for the Sunset plate may vary from year to year. To find out the current fee, you can visit the official California DMV website or contact your local DMV office for assistance.

It’s worth noting that the fees and costs associated with the Sunset plate contribute to various initiatives and programs supported by the California DMV. These programs often focus on environmental conservation, public safety, and other important causes.

Getting a California Sunset License Plate

Eligibility Requirements

To get a California Sunset License Plate, there are certain eligibility requirements that you need to meet. Firstly, you must be a registered vehicle owner in the state of California. This means that you must have a valid California driver’s license and your vehicle must be registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Additionally, you must have a clean driving record and not be in violation of any state traffic laws or regulations. Meeting these requirements ensures that you are eligible to apply for a California Sunset License Plate.

How to Apply at the DMV

Once you have determined that you meet the eligibility requirements, you can proceed with the application process at the DMV. The DMV provides an online application portal where you can submit your application for a California Sunset License Plate.

Alternatively, you can visit your local DMV office and apply in person. It’s important to note that there may be a fee associated with obtaining a California Sunset License Plate, so be sure to check the current fee schedule on the DMV website.

Once your application is approved and the fee is paid, you will receive your California Sunset License Plate.

For more detailed information on the application process and any additional requirements, it is recommended to visit the official California DMV website at www.dmv.ca.gov.

Sunset Plate Popularity and Specialty Plates

The California Sunset License Plate, with its stunning design featuring a vibrant sunset over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, has gained immense popularity among Californians. This specialty plate has become a symbol of the state’s natural beauty and has garnered a dedicated following of drivers who want to showcase their love for California.

Environmental and Commemorative Plates

In addition to the California Sunset License Plate, there are several other specialty plates available to motorists in the state. One popular category of specialty plates is the environmental plates. These plates allow drivers to show their support for various environmental causes and organizations.

Some examples of environmental plates include the “Save Our Shores” plate, which raises funds for coastal conservation efforts, and the “Clean Air” plate, which supports clean air initiatives.

Commemorative plates are another type of specialty plate that allows drivers to celebrate and honor important events or organizations. These plates often feature unique designs and logos that commemorate historical milestones or pay tribute to specific groups.

For example, the “Veterans” plate is available to honor and support military veterans, while the “Breast Cancer Awareness” plate raises awareness and funds for breast cancer research.

Specialty plates like the California Sunset License Plate and the environmental and commemorative plates not only add a personal touch to a vehicle but also contribute to important causes. By purchasing these plates, drivers are supporting organizations and initiatives that aim to make a positive impact on the environment and the community.

If you’re interested in getting a specialty plate, the process is relatively straightforward. Simply visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website and navigate to the specialty plate section.

There, you can browse through the various options available and choose the plate that best represents your interests or values. Be sure to check the requirements and fees associated with each plate before making a decision.

Once you’ve selected your desired specialty plate, you can complete the application process online or in person at a local DMV office. Keep in mind that there may be additional documentation required, such as proof of vehicle registration and insurance.

It’s always a good idea to double-check the specific requirements for your chosen plate to ensure a smooth application process.

So, whether you’re passionate about the environment, want to commemorate a special event, or simply want to show off your love for California, specialty plates like the California Sunset License Plate offer a unique and meaningful way to personalize your vehicle while supporting important causes.


With its beautiful imagery paying homage to California’s natural beauty, the sunset license plate has become an iconic symbol of West Coast pride and spirit. Drivers in California have the option of upgrading to this special plate to show their love for the Golden State in a fun, visually striking way.

By understanding the background, design and acquisition process for the sunset plate, you can go cruising in California style.

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