Applying for a personalized plate allows you to choose your own message (i.e. the lettering on your plate). You can apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles with your chosen message and, if it’s approved, your plates will be made to order.
A specialty plate will have your message (which can also be personalized if you want), but the overall plate will have a different appearance.
A specialty plate has a purpose. It might be a charity license plate that supports a cause close to your heart, or a license plate for veterans or classic vehicles. A specialty plate can even support a particular organization you’re involved in such as Firefighters, Nevada National Guard, or Scouting.
And in case you were wondering, a license plate can be both a specialty plate and personalized. Many people choose to personalize their specialty plate, and so the term ‘personalized license plate’ is sometimes used interchangeably.