Rules for Having Commercial Plates in New Jersey

By Joseph Coda

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As the most densely populated state in the country, New Jersey is crisscrossed with a complicated infrastructure. Every day, thousands of commercial vehicles are in transit on the roadways of the state, delivering goods and performing services. Accordingly, New Jersey has assembled a series of laws and regulations dealing with the license plate requirements of commercial vehicles in the state.

Commercial Plate Usage

New Jersey law divides vehicles that must bear commercial plates into different categories. These varied categories include vehicles that haul goods or materials, vehicles used for farming and agricultural operations, and vehicles, such as taxis, limousines and school buses, designated only for the transportation of people. New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) issues the plate regulations for each type of commercial vehicle.

Commercial Plate Categories

Commercial trucks and tractors bear plates that must display the word "Commercial" and the numeral on the plate must begin with the letter "X" or other designated prefix. Annual stickers issued by the MVC must be affixed to the plate.

Aggregate haulers—vehicles carrying fill, stone, cement, etc.—follow the same plate regulations as commercial trucks and tractors.

Taxi plates must display the word "Omnibus." Vehicles with these plates must be used only for the legal definition of a taxi, according to New Jersey statutes.

Limousine plates must display the word "Limousine." These vehicles may be used for charter operations only.

School bus plates must display the words "School Vehicle." On buses with a seating capacity of 16 or fewer, plates begin with the characters "S2"; buses with a higher seating capacity have plates that begin with "S1."

Four-year commercial trailers are commercial trailers with a four-year registration. Their plates begin with the prefix "T" and are required to bear one sticker, which is issued every four years. The plates also bear the word "commercial."

Commercial trailers have plates bearing the prefix "T" and an issued sticker that is valid for one year.

Commercial motorcycles bear plates with the word "commercial" and the prefix "X."

Farm trucks, which carry farm supplies or products, have plates that display the word "Farmer" and start with prefix "XY" or prefix "XZ."

Vehicles engaged in solid waste disposal and meeting certain vehicle weight and axle configurations bear regular commercial plates beginning with the letter "X." These vehicles are issued two sets of plates, both of which must be displayed.

Construction vehicles weighing 41,000 to 70,000 lb. and engaged in bona fide construction work bear regular commercial plates beginning with "X." Two sets of plates are issued and must be displayed on the vehicle.

Farm-use vehicles—which are distinct from "farm trucks"—are those used only for farm work, traveling from one part of a farm to another or for short distances on public roads. These vehicles bear plates that display the words "Farm Use." The first letter of the plate number must be "F." If its speed cannot exceed 20 mph, the vehicle does not need to bear a plate.

Agricultural tractors that do not exceed speeds of 20 mph bear plates displaying the word "Tractor"; the first letter on the plate is "T."

Omnibus vehicles are those used to transport passengers for hire but which are not school buses or taxis. The plates on these vehicles bear the word "Omnibus" and the plate number begins with the letter "O."

Contractor equipment in-transit vehicles bear plates with the words "Contractor Equipment In-Transit." These plates are used only on backhoes, front-end loaders, cranes, road-building machinery, arrow boards and certain other self-propelled or towed equipment that moves between construction locations. These plates are not used for snow plows.

Farm labor transport vehicles transport migrant workers to and from farms in New Jersey. These vehicles bear plates with the word "Commercial" and a code beginning with "X."

Fees, Renewals and Other Requirements

Registration fees vary for the different categories of commercial plates; commercial operators should consult with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission for the latest fees. Some categories have different renewal time frames or must be obtained in sets. The MVC accepts credit cards, checks, money orders and cash for payment of commercial plate fees.

About the Author

Joseph Coda has been an editor, writer, desktop publisher and PC geek since the early 1990s. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Ramapo College and has put his experience to work in industries including equity research, management consulting, executive training and academic publishing. He also lends his talents to benefiting charitable endeavors.

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