In 2017, some major changes have started happening to Mexican license plates.
They have been simplfied and standardized, and many of the states are now switching their designs to confirm to the new standards.
The new "rules" for Mexican plates are outlined in a document from the SCT - Secretary for Communications and Transport - the standard is published every few years in the DOF (Diario Oficial de la Federacion) - a Mexican government document which is produced on a daily basis. Periodically, there are sections in the DOF documents which outline the new plate numbers (that's where I get my information on numbering) and it also contains lots of information about the plates themselves - how they're made, sizes of letters, spacing, thickness, and other technical data.
In the June 2016 version of this document, there is a new specification about how the plates should look ... what elements can go in what places, where graphics can be, and more importantly, where they CAN'T be.
And now, as of February 2017, several states have changed their current bases, or created completely new bases, to comply with this new standard.
Below is a diagram of the new standard plate. This picture originally came from the DOF document, but I made the text bigger, and added the English translations and the hologram images.
The elements of the plate are, as defined in the picture above:
Another part of the new plates are additional holograms - there is a rectangular "SCT" hologram which runs down the middle of the plate, and down the right side, a circular mark containing a star and the number of the manufacturing facility. I've shown both in the picture above. I have not held one of these new plates in my hands yet, so I can't comment on the consistency or placement of the holograms.
Top Left: Location of the plate on the vehicle - either F (FRONTAL) for the front, or T (TRASERA) for the rear plate.
Top Center: Area for graphics, logotypes, and legends.
Top Right: QR code and the aluminum stamped seal bearing the number of the manufacturing facility.
Center: Area for alphanumerics only. This is the part where no graphics are allowed - so the registration number is clearly visible.
Bottom Left: Mexican national coat of arms.
Bottom Center: State name and vehicle type.
Bottom Right: State coat of arms.
What I can say is that the 2017 CDMX plates seem to also have an angel in the background along with the SCT and manufacturing center marks, so variations are certainly possible.
Some states are following this pattern exactly, but others have varied it a little bit, by having graphics on both top and bottom, putting the state name on top, putting the state seal in a different place, etc. Sometimes the re-arrangement is required because a sticker well is included on the plates of states which use plate stickers to validate registration. Sometimes, it's just random.
It's unclear whether all of the states have to change to follow this new standard, but from the number of "modified" baseplates out there so far, and the speed at which they are appearing, it certainly looks like all the states will be changing at some point in the near future. Apparently (at least in Chihuahua) the new plates will only be for new registrants - so not all states are doing a full replate (especially those who just got new plates in 2016!).
At the very least, it should be an interesting year.
Motorcycle plates have also changed - growing from their microscopic size of 150x100mm to their new size of 215x134mm. This is about 8½ x 5¼ inches - which is bigger than the 7x4 inch size of American cycle plates.
They are also incorporating the new elements seen on passenger plates - the (T) for Trasera in the top left, the country and state coats of arms, etc.
The diagram to the right is originally from the DOF document, but I took away some extraneous measurements and added the A0AA0 registration number. Theoretically, with the size of these motorcycle plates, they can accommodate 6 - or even 7 characters, so the ranges for motorcycle dealers from the 2013 and 2016 specifications (Y001AA - Z999TZ) will now fit on a cycle plate.
(Never made sense with the tiny plates - only 5 characters would ever fit on one of those.)
As with the passenger plates, states are slowly starting to convert to the new bigger motorcycle plates.
I've included pictures below of both passenger and motorcycle plates from the states that have adopted this new scheme, so that the differences in design can be seen.
Notice that some new plates are still using the older AAA-00-00 numbering, rather than the new AAA-000-A.
There are still lots of unanswered questions - but hopefully we will learn more and I will be updating this page as the year goes on.