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Rules for Playing the License Plate Game

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Vanity License Plate Dude

Photo: Tony Alter

A great way to pass the time on a road trip and keep your family’s eyes on the scenery instead of their phones is by playing the license plate game. Not clearly establishing the rules beforehand can cause arguments and ruin a fun time, so here’s how we suggest playing the license plate game with your family.

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Guidelines for playing the license plate game

Rules to decide as a group:

How long will the game last? Usually, it’s for the length of the trip, but you can just limit to the main stretch of the drive to or from your destination.

Do you count parked cars? Is it fair to run around a parking lot or rest stop and mark off the license plates of parked cars, or do you only count ones in motion?

Are you playing cooperatively or competitively? Are you working together to find all 50 states, or are you each trying to spot the most plates? If you’re playing cooperatively, who will be in charge of the list?

How do you score the game? You can make each plate one point or allot more points to rarer plates, like Hawaii, Alaska, or even non-adjacent states.

Official rules for your game:

  1. You can’t count the license plate of your own car.
  2. You can’t count the license plate of the state you’re currently in.
  3. Someone else has to see and verify the license plate for you to count it.
  4. U.S. civilian plates only. Canada, Mexico, diplomat, and government plates are bonuses, not requirements.

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