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How We Store and Protect Our License Plate Collection

Collectors have developed many systems for organizing, storing and protecting their license plate collections. There are no right or wrong ways to do it. Each of us figures out what works for us. We’d like to share what we do. It might give others some ideas.

License plate Collection on shelves

Storage with Shelves

One way we keep our license plates is on metal shelves. Our shelves are sized so that we can place our plates standing up lengthwise on the shelf, almost like a filing system. We adjust the shelves to fit the height of the plates. This allows us to store a larger volume of license plates using our available space efficiently. Also, the metal shelves can take the weight. We organize them by state and by year to easily find what we need. We simply flip through the shelf to get to the plate we are looking for.

License plate collection in bins

Storage with Bins

The second way we store them is in bins. Bins give us the advantage of being able to quickly move license plates around and/or re-organize them as needed. The bins we are use measure 20x15x5. We run regular plates along the more narrow side. When we have early, longer plates, they fit nicely when the bin is turned long-ways. Because the bins are only 5 inches high, we can easily see the license plates and find the one we are looking for.

License Plate Collection in Plastic Bags

Plastic Sleeves for Protection

We store our license plates in extra-thick plastic sleeves that don't easily tear like thinner sleeves. We get extra protection so our tags don't get scratched. They are industrial-strength 4-mil thick to withstand metal plates being stacked together, handled roughly and stored. They prevent scratches over many years. They are clear and transparent so we can still enjoy our license plates.

We use a sleeve on each license plate. Some sleeves will allow us to store pairs of license plates. We store pairs two ways. In one way, we place the plates back to back and put them in the sleeve so that we can see both the front and back plates easily. This is important when we are quickly looking for a set and we want to check the condition of both plates without removing them from the sleeve. They other way we store our pairs is front to back. They fit snugly together this way and take up less room. When we ship license plate pairs, we use the second method because it is a bit more secure and we place a buffer sheet between the plates for extra protection.

License Plate in Plastic Bag

Especially Designed Sleeve

We used commercially-available plastic sleeves for years. But we were frustrated that the sleeves were either too small to fit regular license plates or too large with extra floppy plastic.

So we decided to design our own size and work with a manufacturer to make them. Our custom-designed sleeves are made to precisely fit modern license plates. Since 1956, standard automobile license plates measure 6 inches x 12 inches. Our sleeves are made a schoosh bigger so that you can easily slip your license plate inside and still keep a nice snug fit. There is no extra plastic taking up space. This is an addition to the other sizes we use that fit larger license plates, smaller plates and long, narrow plates.

Sizes We Use

The sizes we use are:

6.25x12.25 inch for standard, modern license plates

7x14 inch for the older larger license plates

8x16 inch for extra large, older license plates

5x18 inch for the long, narrow license plates that were common in the 1920s

5x24 inch for even longer license plates

5x10 inch for small license plates such as motorcycle tags

Different sizes of license plate bags


The shelves we use are common industrial types. Our Sources include Grainger and Costco. The bins are a Rubbermaid commercial product, found on Amazon. The plastic sleeves that we use are available on our website.

These are just a few ideas we have for organizing our license plates. Most assuredly, you have your own methods. Feel free to tell us about them in the comments section. You might help others with some ideas.

Happy Collecting,

Barb and Tom, The License Plate Girl and The License Plate Guy at

License Plate Garage

© Copyright 2023 Barb Sistak Baur. All rights reserved.


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