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What color is the current Illinois license plate sticker?

The color of the current Illinois license plate sticker depends on the year the vehicle was registered. The Illinois Secretary of State’s office issues new license plate stickers every year in a different color to easily identify the registration year. Let’s take a look at the current color schema:

Current Illinois License Plate Sticker Colors

Illinois issues new license plate stickers annually in different colors. Here are the colors for recent and upcoming years:

Year Sticker Color
2019 Aqua
2020 Gray
2021 Pink
2022 Red
2023 Blue

As you can see, the current sticker color for 2023 license plate renewals is blue. So if you have renewed your Illinois vehicle registration this year, your new sticker should be blue.

Why Does Illinois Change License Plate Sticker Colors Annually?

There are a few key reasons why Illinois changes the license plate sticker color every year:

  • Helps police and other officials easily identify expired registrations – Outdated stickers are obvious when the color doesn’t match the current year.
  • Assists tollway cameras with recognizing valid registrations – The cameras are programmed to scan for current sticker colors.
  • Generates additional revenue from registration renewals – Drivers are motivated to keep their stickers up-to-date.
  • Reduces license plate sticker theft and fraud – Stickers clearly lose their value after the year ends, deterring theft.

So in summary, the annually changing sticker colors aid in enforcement efforts, tollway operations, registration compliance, and anti-theft protection.

When Do the License Plate Sticker Colors Change?

Illinois usually announces the next year’s sticker color around October-November as registrations for the coming year open. The new stickers then become valid on January 1st when the new registration year begins.

For example, blue 2023 stickers became available in late 2022 as registrations opened for 2023. The blue stickers then officially took effect on January 1, 2023, replacing the red 2022 stickers as the valid color.

This staggered transition gives motorists time to renew their vehicle registrations and receive new stickers before the New Year. It also allows for a phase-out period where both the old and new colors remain valid temporarily into the early weeks of January.

What Happens If You Don’t Get the Updated Sticker on Time?

It’s important to renew vehicle registrations promptly and display the correct sticker color for the current year. Here’s what can happen if you fail to get the newest license plate sticker in time:

  • Police may ticket you for an expired registration – This infraction can result in fines around $100-$200.
  • You may have to pay late penalties at the DMV – Illinois charges an extra $20 fee for registrations renewed after the deadline.
  • Tollway citations can accumulate – Most Illinois toll roads rely on up-to-date stickers to confirm registrations.
  • Stolen or lost stickers can’t be replaced – The Secretary of State will not reissue stickers for previous years.

So be sure to schedule your vehicle registration renewal in advance of the year ending. This ensures you receive the correct color sticker well before the deadline. Many motorists opt for early renewal in November or December to avoid issues remembering to renew during the hectic holidays.

Do All Illinois Vehicles Need the Current Sticker?

All passenger vehicles registered in Illinois must display the correct license plate sticker color matching the current year. This includes:

  • Cars
  • SUVs and trucks
  • Motorcycles
  • RV’s

Exceptions may include antique/classic vehicles registered under special plates. Make sure to check with the Secretary of State’s office if you have unique registration circumstances.

Where Should the License Plate Sticker Be Placed?

Illinois sticker placement rules require affixing the current sticker to the top center of the rear license plate. Specific guidelines include:

  • Place the sticker on the license plate itself, not the vehicle bumper.
  • Remove any old stickers first before applying the new one.
  • Ensure the sticker is flat and smooth without creases or bubbles.
  • Never apply the sticker to tinted license plate covers.

Make sure to attach the license plate sticker carefully and neatly per these regulations. Scrape off any previous years’ stickers completely to avoid confusion.

Can You Get a Ticket for Having an Expired Sticker?

Yes, it is illegal in Illinois to drive with an expired license plate sticker. Police can issue citations for failure to display the proper sticker, which is considered an improper vehicle registration violation.

Standard fines for expired stickers in Illinois are around $100 for a first offense. Subsequent tickets can reach up to $200. Sticker citations cannot be dismissed by simply renewing your registration after the fact.

Beyond fines, having an outdated sticker also means your vehicle registration is invalid. This could potentially void your insurance coverage if involved in an accident while driving with expired stickers.

What If My Sticker Gets Damaged or Peels Off?

If your current Illinois sticker gets damaged or starts peeling away, you may be able to obtain a free replacement from the Secretary of State’s office. Reasons that qualify for a free replacement sticker include:

  • Normal weather wear and tear
  • Accidental damage from scraping or washing the plate
  • Sticker adhered incorrectly by the DMV and fell off

Bring proof of the damaged sticker to your local SOS office and request a new one. Make sure not to allow intentional sticker damage or removal to avoid receiving a citation.

Can You Renew Your Illinois Registration Early?

Illinois motorists have the option to renew their vehicle registration up to 150 days before the current sticker expires. This offers the convenience of renewing early to obtain the new sticker well ahead of time.

To renew early, visit an SOS office or the Illinois DMV website. Your new sticker will be printed with the next year and become valid on January 1st even if you renew early.

Keep in mind that unused sticker months do not carry over if you renew more than 60 days early. The registration period still ends on your normal expiration date.


Ensuring your Illinois license plate has the proper updated sticker is crucial for avoiding fines, registration issues, and tollway headaches. The Secretary of State releases new stickers in different annual colors that are required to match the current year.

Be sure to peel off old stickers and display the correct color for 2023 which is blue. Scrape carefully to avoid sticker damage and apply the new one neatly to the license plate according to state guidelines.

Look for announcements of the 2024 sticker color coming in late 2022 and plan to renew on time. Consider handling it early to receive your new sticker well before January 1st.

With close attention to these annual license plate sticker requirements, Illinois motorists can stay legal, avoid citations, and freely access tollways and other services that rely on up-to-date registrations.