Mainers will say bye-bye to the chickadee license plate as the replacement license plates will be issued for vehicles next year.

Beginning on May 1, 2025, when Mainers go to renew their vehicle registration, they will be offered a choice between two new license plates: one with the image of a tree under the North Star, the other an simple blue, green and white license plate.

“We have been working at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles now for almost a year to put in place a highly organized system whereby every Maine driver with a chickadee plate will receive a new plate,” said Secretary of State Shenna Bellows.

Bellows said the Maine Legislature allowed the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to retain savings of up to $7 million from prior years that could be used toward the new plates.

“We are producing and distributing one million plates at approximately $7 per set of plates,” Bellows wrote in an email to The Times Record.

“The national standard is to replace license plate designs every 5 to 10 years,” Bellows said. “Mainers are frugal people, so it has taken us 25 years to replace the standard issue design.”

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One reason the design of the license plate is changing is public safety. The older chickadee plates are peeling and losing their retro-reflectivity, as seen by license plate readers by law enforcement or surveillance cameras.

Mainers can order new license plates through online rapid renewal as people register their vehicles online. When people renew their vehicle registration, they also can reserve a preferred plate number.

Mainers can reserve the license plate now or when they complete their registration. Anyone with a non-chickadee license plate does not need to do anything while the change is implemented.

The new license plates will be free to everyone who receives a random number and letter sequence, while Mainers attached to their current plate sequence must fill out a special order with a one-time $25 fee, Bellows said.

The plates are recyclable and were an important design aspect of the new issuance process, with the manufacturing of the plates happening in Nova Scotia. The new license plates will be manufactured outside of the state because no facility in Maine can handle the number of plates, which will be over 900,000, according to a press release by the Office of the Secretary of State.

Mainers can recycle their old chickadee license plates by returning it to municipal offices or the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

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