However, the maximum number of characters on an optional plate may be lower than on a standard-issue plate. For example, the U.S. state of Virginia allows up to 7.5 characters (a space or hyphen is counted as 0.5 character) on a standard-issue plate, but only up to 6 characters on many of its optional plates.
How many letters and numbers are in a California license plate?
There's the basic plate for cars, which now starts with the number 6 followed by three letters and three numbers. DMV spokeswoman Jan Mendoza says the state issued six-digit plates from the 1950s or so through the late 1970s until it ran out of combinations and started putting a number at the beginning.
How many combinations can be made on a license plate?
26 x 26 x 26 x 10 x 10 x 10 = 17,576,000. So a six-character system with three letters and three numbers can only yield, at best, 17.5 million possible plate numbers. It should be no surprise that many larger states exhausted all possible six-character combinations years ago and were forced to go to seven characters.