Why Do People Cover License Plates in Photos?

Headlight of black car.

As an Amazon Associate, Modded gets commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

While some people haven’t considered this before, others might be wondering constantly: Why do people cover license plates in photos? There are two reasons. You either want to protect your privacy or avoid incriminating yourself.

So many people do it nowadays, that it almost seems like the most logical solution if you’re posting a photo of your car. From those selling their cars to those looking to purchase, to car enthusiasts who see snapshots of cars online all day long, you’re probably familiar with people taking this approach with their car situation.

No matter what your inclination, it’s always best to be sure about your safety and security when you’re posting photos or searching around. Even if you haven’t wondered about this before, checking in on the details and why some people choose to cover it up can help you feel more secure in your choices and move on.

While it might feel like the right thing to do — with the emphasis we have in our society on protecting our personal information — it might actually be a bit less necessary than you might think. Here’s a bit more about why people cover their license plates in photos, and if that’s really necessary.

Why Do People Cover License Plates? Driver Protection

When people are selling a car online, especially in a public venue like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, the sellers often cover their license plates with towels, editing and even by sticking their hand or finger in front of the camera to cover the license plate.

The same thing goes for those who like to post pictures of their car on social media. Especially for those who own expensive cars or cars they’ve put a lot of effort into, people are often worried about theft, identity theft or vandalism. With this in mind, it makes sense to cover up any personal information that might be visible in your shot, and this includes your license plate number, right? Well, not exactly.

While this choice might seem like a good idea at first, it actually isn’t necessary. Think about it this way — if you saw a photo of a car, were able to see the license plate and wanted to find the specific car or person who owned it, would you be able to? The answer is — for the most part — no! This is actually because of the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, from all the way back in 1994. This act essentially makes it illegal for motor vehicle departments to disclose any personal information they’ve gathered. This means that unless you work for a police department or the DMV — and hold a specific position in one of those institutions — you can’t find so much as someone’s name based on their license plate number.

License plates.

Out and About

Now that we’ve established the protections in place for drivers and their personal information, the time has come to bring up an important point. Even if you are still wary of posting photos of your car and license plate on social media, there’s a time and situation when everyone around you can see your car and your license plate in plain view — whenever you’re outside and driving your car.

While, of course, people who see you driving don’t necessarily know who you are and understand your presence associated with your car, people can still see you and read your license plate number if they want to. If nothing bad has happened from that, it stands to reason your car will be okay on the internet.

Maybe, If You’re Famous…

That being said, there are some people who might feel safer if they protect as much of their information as possible. For example, it’s highly unlikely that posting a photo of your car on your private Facebook page for 500 friends will lead you to a crisis. However, if you’re genuinely a celebrity, a Youtube star or a social media personality with lots of followers, it might be in your best interest to cover up if that makes you feel most comfortable.

However, even popular channels like Regular Car Reviews don’t bother to cover up license plate numbers, and they’re experts on the matter with a large following. Really, it’s up to you about what makes you most comfortable.

Blue car.

Cover Up Or Leave It Be?

Really, as a regular person, you’ll likely never have to worry about your information being found or stolen through your license plate number. Of course, you should do whatever makes you feel most comfortable, but you can also relax a little bit, too.