Why U-Hauls Have Arizona License Plates
Most U-Haul vehicles have Arizona license plates. Here’s a typical example.
The following picture was taken in the Toronto area, the information on the side is about Newfoundland and the license plate is, of course, from Arizona.
That might seem unusual, but most U-Hauls in Canada actually have Arizona plates too. The fact is, all corporate owned U-Haul rental vehicles in the lower 48 States and Canada have Arizona license plates. That’s right, Alaska and Hawaii don’t have Arizona plates, but all of Canada does. There are actually a few good reasons for this.
When I first noticed this trend, I assumed that U-Haul got a sweetheart deal in Arizona. It turns out their head office is in Phoenix, so it seems reasonable that they would register vehicles there. They also get a really sweet deal there, but this deal is not exclusive to U-Haul, it’s good for anyone with a billing address in Arizona.
Arizona’s registration fee is $8, although a weight and commercial fee would apply to U-Haul vehicles. But, here’s the best part, directly from the Arizona Department of Transportation, “The [Vehicle License Tax] is based on an assessed value of 60% of the manufacturer’s base retail price reduced by 16.25% for each year since the vehicle was first registered in Arizona.” So, after a number of years, the license tax is almost negligible!
It might seem shady for U-Haul to register all their vehicles in Arizona, but it’s actually 100% legal and not shady at all. The vehicles are registered with the International Registration Plan (IRP), which means that the plates don’t expire and instead they pay fees to the States and Provinces in which the vehicles are driven.
Commercial truck carriers use the same system and it is designed to simplify the licensing fee collection and distribution for companies that manage large vehicle fleets. So, even though the truck in the picture has Arizona plates, the Ontario government still gets their fare share of the licensing fee.
But wait, that’s not all. Arizona doesn’t require vehicle safety inspections. That’s very convenient for any commercial operator and U-Haul is no exception. I’ve only seen one vehicle fire in person and it was a U-Haul cube van. Smoke was billowing from the front while two guys rushed to unload their cargo from the back.
If you do see a U-Haul with local plates, there are a few possible explanations for it. Alaska and Hawaii do not have apportioned plates, so vehicles used in those states will have local plates. The other explanation is that the vehicle is owned by a franchisee and not U-Haul corporation, in which case they will likely be registered locally.
Written By: Chad Upton
Photo: Lone Primate (Creative Commons)