Chuck Bauman, Licensing Consultant

Motorcycle and Trailer Manufacturers Licensing Agency

Home Resources EPA info
The New Jersey List
Kelley Blue Book

Trailer Manufacturing License Off-Road Vehicles Low Speed Vehicles (LSVs/NEVs) VIN Labels Info Info on MCOs & MSOs State Licenses & DMV info


VIN labels -- a.k.a. Manufacturer certificate labels -- have different aspects and information depending on the type of vehicle. Typically the VIN label requires not only the manufacturer's name and location as well as the month and year the vehicle was completed and the VIN number itself of course, but also information on tires and rims and the standard compliance statement verbiage.

For assurance of readability, The characters (digits and letters) of the VIN label shall capitalized sans-serif font (such as Arial or Helvetica) characters and shall be a minimum of 4 millimeters in height. The VIN number itself may include the digits (0 through 9) and the letters of the Roman alphabet EXCEPT for I , O , and Q -- in in order to avoid confusion with the digits 0 and 1.


Calculating your VIN check digit -- the 9th character

The 9th digit - The Check Digit - is a security feature for police and DMV to easily and quickly confirm the validity of a VIN number. The Check digit is calculated using a complex formula and can be any of the following characters "X" and the digits (0 through 9). Rather than fumble around trying to use the complicated formula, I will provide you with any easy way to get your check digit for each VIN with your instructions.


Here are makers of VIN labels to get your blank labels from:

Decorated Products, 1 Arch Road, Westfield, MA 01085 Phone: (413) 568-0944, FAX (413) 568-1875

Cadillac Sign & Decal, 4646 Poplar Level Road, Louisville, KY 40213-2319 Phone: (502) 964-4444 Fax: (502) 964-5594

Moll Printing Company, 1012 Linn Street, Sikeston, MO 63801, 800-455-1848 (toll free), 573-472-1848, 573-472-4213 (fax),


Now, in order to print the specific information you need for each vehicle on each label your will need a) a template to line up the info in the appropriate spaces and b) laser printer.

The printing company should supply you with a free template for Word that might work. Typically, these templates work slightly differently in each model of printer and slightly differently is all you need since you have only small spaces to work with on these labels. If the template you download from your printing company (from the above list) works, then great. Otherwise you need to make a template the caveman way.

Basically you take a sheet of labels and type out what you think might work on Word and print out a sample on a regular thin sheet of plain paper and hold up the label sheet with your print on top of it in front of a strong light. Carefully align the top edges and look and see what you've got.

Then change your caveman template to try to hit the spaces right adjusting font sizes, spaces, margins, etc and printing samples on plain thin white paper and checking the alignment (registration) until you get it right. I once spent an afternoon making a template for my motorcycle VIN labels but once you're done, your done. Save that template you've made in several locations and even email it to another computer if necessary in order to not lose it.

Your labels should come with sheets of little, self-adhesive, clear laminated pieces. These stick on top of each completed VIN label in order to weather-proof them.


A motorcycle is defined by the US DOT as a street legal vehicle with fewer than 4 wheels in contact with the ground at any time. The definition might be played with somewhat by state law although just because a particular state issues you a "motorcycle plate on a 4 wheel motorcycle doesn't mean that a police officer or DMV official in another state may not give you a hassle. Typically states might add in a maximum weight restriction on the definition of a motorcycle -- usually between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds although often times state DMV officials and police officers are frequently unaware of any of these definitions.

For instance, one guy with a home-built trike came into our shop once looking for help. A DMV employee had given him a car license plate -- since the rear end was a VW bug -- and a cop who knew better pulled the guy over and gave him a whole bunch of tickets. I have also seen conversion trikes where the owner left the regular rear wheel on and the vehicle then has 4 wheels on the ground drive around with impunity.

Just as the one DMV employee might decide that the VW bug was a car because it has a car rear end, some people will decide that anything with handlebars is a motorcycle. If so inclined one can adopt a set of fabricated, short, motorcycle-ish-looking handlebars to spline on to the steering shaft of a Kenworth.... that does NOT make it a motorcycle.

The VIN label (Vehicle Manufacturer's Certificate Label) on a motorcycle is to be placed on side of frame near the neck. Technically, the VIN label on a motorcycle is to be placed "on a permanent member of the vehicle as close as practicable to the intersection of the steering post and the handlebars, in a location such that it is easily readable without moving any part of the vehicle except the steering system." In other words "on the side of the neck".

Sample Motorcycle VIN label



Trailer VIN labels (Manufacturers Certificate Label) are usually more vertically laid out and are less cramped and easier to print than motorcycle VIN labels -- see sample below. The trailer VIN label is to be affixed to the left side front part of the trailer where it is visible without moving or removing anything. Frequently the left side of the neck is preferred because the label will fair better there because it is not being as badly assaulted by road debris from the rear tires of the vehicle. Extra thick or double lamination is a good idea to cover the label on trailers since their location leaves them in the line of fire for all sorts of splash, debris, etc.

Sample Trailer VIN label


LSV - Low Speed Vehicle - VIN labels

The VIN label/Manuacturer's Certificate Label on an LSV is to be places on the driver's door jam -- very similar to cars and pickup trucks. If that is not practical for some reason, the label is to be placed in a visible location inside the vehicle in the driver's area such as the left side of the dashboard.

Sample LSV low speed vehicle VIN label

Please contact Chuck Bauman at
vinlicense@hushmail.comwith any questions. Also my phone is (602) 540-8915.

Email me - Chuck Bauman - at or
phone me at (602) 540-8915
Motorcycle Manufacturers of America

Motorcycle Manufacturer Licensing Main Page

Motorcycle Manufacturing Licensing Resource Page

EPA information for licensed motorcycle manufacturers

New Jersey Approved Motorcycle Manufacturers List

Kelley Blue Book information for motorcycle manufacturers

Trailer manufacturer license agency

Sitemap in HTML

Sitemap in Text

Vehicle Manufacturing Licensing Blog