Quirks from Nebraska license plate shortage will be ironed out with time, state says

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Supply chain problems have made it hard for manufacturers to get ahold of aluminum and other supplies to make license plates.

Coincidentally, every Nebraska driver is due for a new plate this year, which could make for inconveniences when it’s time to renew your tags.

“It’s absolutely 100% a delay in the supply chain,” Nebraska Vehicle Services Administrator Betty Johnson said. “I think it is a result, because there was a shortage in 2020 and 2021, there were shortages, and this is just the industry trying to catch up.”

Nebraskans looking to update their license plates may have to wait just a little longer in certain parts of the state.

In January, the Platte County Treasurer’s Office issued a press release telling residents that supply chain problems were preventing the shipment of plates to at least a dozen counties.

Those counties include Saunders, Gage, Hall, Adams and Buffalo.

“We had a target number of plates that we had to delay production on,” Johnson said.

The state made 600,000 plates for 2023, enough for the drivers in the very largest and very smallest counties.

The license plates for the midsize counties will be made as materials become available.

The shortage means two vehicles could have the same plate number, one on a 2017 plate and the other on a 2023 plate.

But once the 2017 plate is updated, the owner of the 2023 plate will be the sole owner of that number.

This problem could also prevent drivers from looking to keep their previous number.

But what about specialty or personalized plates?

Johnson said those are not affected.

“If you had a message plate, if you had CAT1 in the 2017 design, we are going to automatically print that, and it’ll be at the county waiting for you,” she said. “We make sure that we pull those and print them ahead of time to have them for you. If you wanted to switch from a county plate to a specialty plate, you can go online and select the one you want, and we will ship it to the county for you.”

The problem should resolve itself with the passage of time.

“It will be resolved by December 31st of 2023 if everyone renews their plates on time,” Johnson said. “But incrementally, through the months, it could get resolved a lot quicker because it’s all dependent on the expiration month of those plates.”

She said police won’t mix up the same plate numbers should your vehicle doppelganger get up to mischief.

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