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