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For many years out-of-state traveling salesmen were treated the same as tourists in that they were required to buy regular New Mexico license plates if they stayed in the state more than a short time. In 1932 it was decided to issue to them Guest license plates, but this was the only year the type was used for that purpose. In 1937 a specifically made but short-lived Salesman plate with an “S” prefix was introduced. By early 1939 it was decided that requiring out-of-state business people to buy these plates was not business friendly and the requirement was dropped, leaving many thousands of the 1939 Salesman plates unissued. At almost exactly the same time a law was passed providing for privately owned school buses to receive a special School Bus plate with reduced registration fees, and some of the unissued 1939 Salesman plates (which conveniently already had an “S” prefix) were repurposed for issuance to school buses. For this reason it is essentially impossible to tell 1939 Salesman plates from 1939 School Bus plates. The “S” prefix on School Bus plates has been used continuously from that time to the present day, albeit with a “B” added beginning in 1975, making the prefix “SB.”


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