Beginning January 1, 2021, qualifying disabled veterans will have an easier process to follow when requesting special Disabled Veteran license plates or distinguishing placards from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

A picture of a sample of a disabled veterans license plate for a vehicle.
Here is a sample of a special Disabled Veteran license plate.

Currently, a disabled veteran in California obtains the plates by securing a disability certification from a medical professional or from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA), and then provides it to the DMV, which issues the plates.

To improve and expedite this process, last month Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law requiring the DMV to also accept disability certificates issued by a County Veterans Service Officer (CVSO) and the California Department of Veterans Affairs. This provides qualifying disabled veterans more convenient options to obtaining their disability certificates for Disabled Veterans plates or a placard(s) from the DMV.  

“As always, CalVet is here to help California’s veterans, and we’re glad to see a more convenient process for obtaining this important benefit,” said Keith Boylan, CalVet’s deputy secretary for Veterans Services. “Our mission and passion is to serve veterans and their families and we will work closely with the CVSOs to make sure that, come January, the process will be simple and accessible.”

However, it is important for disabled veterans to know that until January 1, 2021, neither CalVet nor the CVSOs can issue disability certificates, nor can the DMV accept them from any agency other than the USDVA.

Disabled veterans can obtain the plates free of charge for one of the following: A passenger vehicle, a motorcycle or a commercial vehicle with an unladen weight of 8,000 pounds or less not used for transportation, hire or profit, according to the DMV.

Look for updated information about the Disabled Veterans License Plate program as the New Year approaches by clicking on CalVet’s Veterans Services’ License Plates page.

Click here to find the County Veterans Service Officer nearest you.

Click here for the entire text of AB 408, authored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Fairfield, and signed into law by Governor Newsom on September 9, 2020. The California Vehicle Code defines a qualifying disabled veteran here.


  1. Is it possible to obtain DV Plates with a special logo instead of the handicap symbol, as depicted in the image in the article?

    The DMV website implies that it is either-or.


    1. Hi, Joe, The DMV would have to answer that question. The agency’s phone number is 1-800-777-0133.


  2. Any response or anyone have luck in obtaining DV plaste with a special logo instead of the handicap symbol?


  3. I am in the process of obtaining disabled veterans license plates; the information listed here is incorrect. I am still required to take DMV Form 256A to the VA for medical certification which requires going to the VA records department and completing a release of information and they will provide the form to the doctor, you will then return to pick it up once certified. Then you will take the form to the local VSO for service-connected disability verification, and lastly go to the DMV with DMV Form REG256A, and VSO-001. I would not mail the forms in to the DMV, it takes them about 2-3 MONTHS to get back to you.

    I am going through the process right now and have spoken with local VSO’s and different DMV reps…I am not sure what this new law is supposed to expedite but the process seems the same.


  4. I just walked out of the DMV with my plates in the mail. I already had standard disabled plates (which I got years ago). My primary filled out the original plate docs (at the West LA VA). Today, I just brought a letter from ebenefits and they had no problem with it. I was in and out in 30 minutes. No update on the special logos though.


  5. I just received my plates in the mail but i am currently overseas working. So I am not sure if they came with a new registration paperwork to include the month and year. Can anyone answer this for me? Thanks.


    1. Hi Dan, unfortunately that is a question for the DMV. The DMV does not have an email contact, the only contact I could find for you was their number; Contact us at 1-800-777-0133 TTY 1-800-368-4327.


  6. Manuel Ramos · · Reply

    Do you have to be 100% disabled? I’m 90% disabled certified by the VA, and have an extremely difficult time walking for very long. It seems wrong to only accept 100% disabled veterans. I know many other disabled veterans like me that have a very hard time walking but they aren’t 100% disabled. Is there anything I can do? Oh and no I’m not missing a limb, need a wheelchair, or blind as a side note. Thanks!


    1. Hello Manuel, the law states that program is for a 100% disabled veteran. You should talk to your local County Veteran Service Office to see if they can petition for an upgrade.


  7. Raul Reyes · · Reply

    I went to the regional VA office for San Bernardino county in Hesperia, Smoketree St. I’m 100% and was told the VSO wasn’t going to give me a certificate without the doctor’s signature on his portion of the form. The front desk clerk told me to bring it back after the doctor signs it and the VSO will give me hi the certificate. I told that her if my doctor signs it, then I don’t need them to do anything for me. She asked for my name for some kind of record. I will be contacting my congressman’s office.


  8. I was wondering if the required 100% is a single injury or all together. The wording on the form for the doctor suggests a single injury being rated 100%. Just looking for some clarity.


    1. Hello Alex, I have put in a request to Veterans Services division and will get back to you with their answer.


  9. James Boyer · · Reply

    My question is I have my form from my RO Director VA Regional
    Stating that I am 100% disabled. Do I still have to have medical certification for disabled veteran license plate? I have my 100%
    Commissary I’d card as well


    1. Hello James, I have forwarded your question to Veterans Services Division and will get back to you when I receive their answer.


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