Q: I just received my renewed license plate tabs in the mail today. Why is the tab red? Does the color mean something?

A: Good question. The first line of your standard plate reads "Explore Minnesota." The second line of the plate has three numbers and then three letters. The third line starting in the lower-left corner of your plate is the month your tab will expire and in the lower right corner is the year tab.

Yes, the year tab does change color annually. The color-coded tabs are designed to help law enforcement officials identify vehicles that could have expired registrations. The tab color for 2021 is red, and next year, 2022, the color will be gold. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety selected five colors -- red, gold, blue, white, and green.

If your tab does not stay on or falls off, you can get a replacement tab for $12.50 (that is a $1.50 duplicate tab fee plus an $11 filing fee). Tabs also have an assigned serial number on them that allow officers to verify that they are on the proper plate/vehicle, if there is a need to verify the tab usage.

According to the Minnesota Historical Society, in 1903, the first Minnesota automobile license plate was issued to R.C. Wright of St. Paul for his Packard. It was issued by the state boiler inspector and was made of black leather with a brass number 1.

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Reference:

1. https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/Pages/license-plate-information.aspx

2. http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2014/05/first-license-plate/

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