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Montana’s license plate manufacturing falters due to aluminum shortage

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HELENA – Another product of U.S. supply chain disruption spurred by the pandemic, aluminum shortages have forced Montana to halted its traditional license plate manufacturing.

About 750,000 license plates are made each year at the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge by inmates working for Montana Correctional Enterprises, a division of the state Department of Corrections according to an article in The Western News.

Montana Correctional Enterprises ran out of aluminum this week, said Carolynn Bright, spokesperson for the Montana DOC. Officials say the next aluminum shipment isn’t expected until December.

“We knew this might be a possibility because it’s been an issue at other license plate factories throughout the nation,” MCE Administrator Gayle Butler said in a statement.

The short-term solution is to print plate numbers on reflective sheets and then place them inside plastic sleeves, said Laurie Bakri, administrator of the state’s Motor Vehicle Division.

Individuals who receive the temporary plates will receive permanent plates when regular production resumes, Bakri said.

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