The New Loophole For Rental Cars Registered In Florida

by SharonKurheg

If you’ve ever rented cars in the U.S., you’ve surely noticed that the rental car you got wasn’t always registered in the state you were in. Here’s why that happens.

Meanwhile, regardless of what state you were in, if you’ve rented a car registered in Florida since July 1, 2021, you may have noticed the registration sticker on the upper right-hand corner of its license plate was kind of “different” from most other registration stickers.

Florida-registered cars used to have stickers that expired in June (06/##, where the “##” was the following year).

a license plate with oranges and flowers

PC: Dickelbers / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

But now most have a sticker that, instead of a date, simply says PM.

a license plate on a car


What’s up with that?

Welp, first some background information…

Until about 30 years ago, rental cars registered in Florida frequently had some markers on them that made them obvious they were rental cars. They displayed the first and sometimes both of the following:

  • Their license plates consistently began with the letter Y or Z
  • They had bumper stickers that said what company their were leased from

Both were pretty much bull’s eyes that said, “I’m a tourist! I’m a great target!”

Unfortunately, some horrible people used those “bull’s eyes” to their advantage. In late 1992 into early 1993, seven tourists in Florida were victims of violent deaths that led to a wave of worldwide negative publicity about crime in Florida.

With that, in the spring of 1993, lawmakers in Florida banned the use of “special” license plates that started with the letter Y or Z, as well as rental car companies advertising themselves on their fleet.

Meanwhile, in the state of Florida, your car registration expires each year during your birthday month. But the registration of all leased vehicles expires in June each year. So ever since 1993, it was still easy enough to pick out Florida rental cars because if you saw a car with a registration sticker than expired in June, chances were good it was a rental car (unless it belonged to someone whose birthday was in June. But even then, window clings, vanity license plates, license plate frames, etc., all would show would-be criminals that they were not tourists).

So anyway, every June, rental car companies have had to put new stickers on every license plate on every car in their fleet. Even the cars that weren’t in the state. That was inconvenient. So in the summer of 2021, the state of Florida changed the law to introduce a loophole that make things easier for rental car companies.

Hertz, Avis, Sixt and all the rest now have the option to get permanent registration stickers for their respective fleets. Instead of an expiration date, they just have the letters “PM” on them (the PM stands for “PerManent”). Each company still has to pay for all those new registrations every year, but they won’t have to stick new stickers on every one of their fleet that’s scattered all across the country.

So if you see or rent a car with a Florida license plate, and it has a yellow “PM” sticker in the upper right-hand corner, now you know why.

And hopefully would-be criminals who prey upon tourists, never will.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


derek October 27, 2022 - 6:25 pm

I often bring bumper stickers to make a rental car look like a personally owned car. I haven’t thought about licence plate frames but I have 2 or 3 ugly ones that I don’t mind giving up. Alternatively, I could take them off. Bumper stickers are easier to slap on.

SharonKurheg October 27, 2022 - 6:27 pm

That’s smart. Bumper stickers usually can’t be easily removed, though. How do you do it?

Derek October 27, 2022 - 10:54 pm

I fold the corner of the bumper sticker so it’s easier to pull off at the end of the rental.

Beachmouse October 27, 2022 - 8:30 pm

The ‘no smoking’ stickers on the car windows are a rental car dead giveaway.

Sid November 3, 2022 - 3:30 pm

Great article. In case you haven’t noticed criminals can read!!

SharonKurheg November 3, 2022 - 4:08 pm

I’m not outing any deep dark secrets; would-be criminals are already well aware.

Jose March 1, 2023 - 9:50 am

Pero igualmente está quedando en evidencia la situación de que es un carro de alquiler y de igual manera no están resguardando la integridad y seguridad de nadie… Es un absurdo total, lo más lógico podría ser que la registracion del vehículo tenga el mes en el que fue adquirido por la compañía que lo renta y se acaba el tema

SharonKurheg March 1, 2023 - 10:15 am

^^ Translation into English: But the situation is also becoming evident that it is a rental car and in the same way they are not protecting the integrity and security of anyone… It is a total absurdity, the most logical thing could be that the registration of the vehicle has the month in the one that was acquired by the company that rents it and the issue is over.

Ray July 20, 2023 - 11:02 am

Let’s hope no criminals figure this out. PM means rental car, got it.

SharonKurheg July 20, 2023 - 1:57 pm

IKR? Nearly the exact same thing that got tourists in trouble way back when. May as well put a “Rob me, I’m a tourist” sticker on the bumper.


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