The Reason Every U-Haul Truck Has an Arizona License Plate

U-Haul fleets have Arizona plates. But why?
U-Haul fleets have Arizona plates. But why? / Michael Ging/The Republic

When people need to transport their life’s accumulation of material objects from one place to another, they get behind the wheel of a U-Haul. The moving and storage company rents trucks, trailers, and other cargo vehicles to people motivated to move themselves.

These vehicles have an interesting quirk: Most of them carry license plates from Arizona, even though the company provides services across the country. So how can U-Haul circumvent a license plate requirement for states they operate in?

According to CNN, U-Haul is playing by a different set of rules. In fact, so do all commercial trucking companies. Instead of registering vehicles and obtaining plates from individual states, U-Haul falls under the International Registration Plan (IRP), which allows companies to pick one state to register their vehicles in. Then, the company pays annual fees to states they operate in based on mileage.

Before the IRP was created in the 1970s, trucks carried multiple license plates to satisfy the DMV requirements of each. After the trucking industry got down with IRP, it greatly simplified the registration process. Companies like U-Haul don’t have to deal with plates expiring in dozens of different states at different times.

Naturally, fees for these apportionable vehicles—so named because a portion of their fees goes to different states—are higher than your standard registration. But for companies like U-Haul, it’s a small price to pay to keep their fleet centralized.

In addition to Arizona plates, U-Haul trucks have another constant feature: orange coloring. That was added early on to increase visibility of the trucks for safety reasons.

[h/t CNN]