"Say, What Does That Little Letter Mean?"
(or, more than you ever wanted to know about
the numbers on Indiana passenger plates!)
Table of contents: (Click on the links to go to that section
or, scroll down to read them all in order)
    1. Surprise! The Little Letter Doesn't Mean Anything!
    2. Alright, So Why IS There A Letter There And Not A Numeral?
    3. But I've Heard That The Little Letters DO Mean Something!
    4. The County Codes
    5. What Happens When They Run Out? (Hoosier Hospitality)
    6. Amber Waves of Grain
    7. The Crossroads of America
1. Surprise! The Little Letter Doesn't Mean Anything!
Indiana has 92 counties. The numbers 93 through 99 were reserved for "overflow"; more populous counties needing more numbers.
(See The County Codes.)
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2. Alright, So Why IS There A Letter There And Not A Numeral?
I suppose a letter was chosen to define exactly where the county portion of the plate ended. Think about it; if there were no letter there it would be easy to confuse number such as:
1 11 (Adams county, plate eleven) and
11 1 (Clay county, plate 1).
The letters "I" and "O" are not used because they might be confused with one and zero, respectively.
The letter "M", rarely used in the past, is no longer so as not to confuse it with Car Dealer plates.
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3. But I've Heard The Little Letters DO Mean Something!
Yes, so have I.
In one scenario, the letter is a "district". If this were the case, all the passenger vehicles in the neighborhood would have the same letter. They don't.
Actually the plates are issued to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in batches of 9,899. (Ex: 45s101 through 45s9999, plates 45s1 through 45s100 are another story...) The easiest way to do this is to send all of the plates beginning, say 45s to the Griffith Branch.
Most of the people in Griffith will have plates beginning with 45s. But Griffith is the only branch open on Saturday. There are many people who absolutely cannot get to their nearest branch Monday through Friday, like people who work in downtown Chicago.
So, many people will drive to Griffith from all over the county. Many people will think that 45s means "Griffith" even though this isn't the case!
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4. The County Codes:          ( How about on a Map? )
1. Adams21. Fayette41. Johnson61. Parke81. Union
2. Allen22. Floyd42. Knox62. Perry82. Vanderburgh
3. Bartholomew23. Fountain43. Kosciusko63. Pike83. Vermillion
4. Benton24. Franklin44. Lagrange64. Porter84. Vigo
5. Blackford25. Fulton45. Lake65. Posry85. Wabash
6. Boone26. Gibson46. LaPorte66. Pulaski86. Warren
7. Brown27. Grant47. Lawrence67. Putnam87. Warrick
8. Carrol28. Green48. Madison68. Randolph88. Washington
9. Cass29. Hamilton49. Marion69. Ripley89. Wayne
10. Clark30. Hancock50. Marshall70. Rush90. Wells
11. Clay31. Harrison51. Martin71. Saint Joseph91. White
12. Clinton32. Hendricks52. Miami72. Scott92. Whitley
13. Crawford33. Henry53. Monroe73. Shelby93. Marion OF
14. Daviess34. Howard54. Montgomery74. Spencer94. Lake OF
15. Dearborn35. Huntington55. Morgan75. Starke95A. Military
16. Decatur36. Jackson56. Newton76. Steuben95B-Z. Marion OF
17. Dekalb37. Jasper57. Noble77. Sullivan96. Lake OF
18. Delaware38. Jay58. Ohio78. Switzerland97. Marion OF
19. Dubois39. Jefferson59. Orange79. Tippecanoe98. Marion OF
20. Elkhart40. Jennings60. Owen80. Tipton99. Marion OF
Lake county (black squares) borders Chicago, Illinois. ("OF" means "overflow".)
Marion county (maroon squares) contains Indianapolis, the State Capital.("OF" means "overflow".)
Can I See this on a Map?                                  Top Of Page
5. What Happens When They Run Out?
(Hoosier Hospitality)

(Click on the plate, above, to see a larger version.)
Some time in 1992, at the beginning of the "Hoosier Hospitality" base, Allen county (#2) ran out of numbers. This was the solution. After the sequence of 2A1 through 2Z9999 was used, Allen county issued 2AA1. Since that left less space on the plate, it was decided to stop at 2AA999 and not 2AA9999 before moving on to 2AB1. Not to worry, though. Whereas the old system allotted 229,977 numbers to each county, substituting a letter for a numeral allots each county 528,471 additional numbers!
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6. Amber Waves of Grain

(Click on the plates, above, to see a larger version.)
Allen county still needs all those numbers, but now Saint Joseph county (#71) has joined Allen county by issuing "Double Letter" plates.
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7. Crossroads of America
With the new "Crossroads Of America" base, Allen and Saint Joseph counties have already begun issuing Double Letter Plates BEFORE exhausting their "Original Style" numbers.
What counties are next? Time will tell. But as soon as I find out, I will post the information here.
(IMPORTANT:  I collect these double letter plates. I currently have NONE on the "Crossroads of America" base, from Saint Joseph County (#71). If you can remedy this, please Contact me:)
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Last Modified: 2001 May 28