Frequently Asked Questions


Buy a plate | WHALE TAIL® Grants | Preguntas Realizadas con Frecuencia


What is the WHALE TAIL® Plate?

It's an official license plate issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles for vehicles registered in California. Sponsored by the California Coastal Commission, proceeds from the sale of the plates support a wide array of coastal education, conservation, and environmental enhancement projects throughout the state, with funds administered by the Coastal Commission, the State Coastal Conservancy, and the California Natural Resources Agency.

How do I order a WHALE TAIL® Plate?

Place your order online (via the DMV website), or download a DMV form to mail in your order. If ordering a standard numbered plate, please have available your vehicle license plate number and the last three digits of the Vehicle Identification Number (located on your registration card).

How much does the WHALE TAIL® Plate cost?

$50 over the usual registration fee for a standard plate, with a $40 annual renewal fee. To customize your plate with personalized letters/numbers, the cost is $103 for the first year, with an $83 renewal fee.

How will I receive my new WHALE TAIL® Plate?

Standard numbered plates will be mailed to the most current address the DMV has on file for the vehicle receiving the plates. Personalized plates are picked up from a DMV Field Office that you designate.

How much of the plate cost goes to environmental conservation programs?

A small administrative fee goes to the DMV when the Plate is first purchased. The rest of the cost and all of the annual renewal fee supports environmental conservation programs.

Can I personalize my WHALE TAIL® Plate?

Yes. When you order your plate, you can also apply for a personalized plate. You may use a combination that is no more than seven characters, and does not already exist on any other California license plate. A new personalized plate will cost $103, with a $83 renewal fee.

How can I find out if my personalized choice is available?

You may check the current listings by calling (800) 777-0133, going in person to any DMV, or by searching the personalized plate database (On California DMV's site) to see if your choice is available!

Can I keep my current license plate number?

If you currently have a standard numbered plate, you won't be able to keep your old license plate number; DMV rules don't allow it. Your new license plate will have a number taken from the special series of numbers reserved for the WHALE TAIL® Plates. Commercial plates are also available.

If I already have a personalized plate, can I transfer the message to a WHALE TAIL® Plate?

Yes. You can convert your current personalized message to a new WHALE TAIL® License Plate for a fee of $103. (You will need to mail in your application rather than ordering online.)

Can I give the WHALE TAIL® Plate as a gift?

Yes. You will need the gift recipient's name, address, phone number, and the location of a DMV field office where the new plates will be picked up.

More questions?

Call 1-800-COAST-4U or email coast4u@coastal.ca.gov

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