A vehicle registration plate, also known as a number plate (British English), license plate (American English), or licence plate (Canadian English), is a metal or plastic plate attached to a motor vehicle or trailer for official identification purposes. All countries require registration plates for road vehicles such as cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Whether they are required for other vehicles, such as bicycles, boats, or tractors, may vary by jurisdiction. The registration identifier is a numeric or alphanumeric ID that uniquely identifies the vehicle or vehicle owner within the issuing region's vehicle register. In some countries, the identifier is unique within the entire country, while in others it is unique within a state or province. Whether the identifier is associated with a vehicle or a person also varies by issuing agency. There are also electronic license plates.
In the vast majority of jurisdictions, the government holds a monopoly on the manufacturing of vehicle registration plates for that jurisdiction. Either a government agency or a private company with express contractual authorization from the government makes plates as needed, which are then mailed to, delivered to, or picked up by the vehicle owners. Thus, it is normally illegal for private citizens to make and affix their own plates, because such unauthorized private manufacturing is equivalent to forgery an official document. Alternatively, the government will merely assign plate numbers, and it is the vehicle owner's responsibility to find an approved private supplier to make a plate with that number.
In some jurisdictions, plates will be permanently assigned to that particular vehicle for its lifetime. If the vehicle is either destroyed or exported to a different country, the plate number is retired or reissued; exported vehicles must be re-registered in the jurisdiction of import. China requires the re-registration of any vehicle that crosses its borders from another country, such as for overland tourist visits, regardless of the length of time it is due to remain there; this has to be arranged with prior approval. Other jurisdictions follow a "plate-to-owner" policy, meaning that when a vehicle is sold the seller removes the current plate(s) from the vehicle. Buyers must either obtain new plates or attach plates they already hold, as well as register their vehicles under the buyer's name and plate number. A person who sells a car and then purchases a new one can apply to have the old plates put onto the new car. One who sells a car and does not buy a new one may, depending on the local laws involved, have to turn the old plates in or destroy them, or may be permitted to keep them. Some jurisdictions permit the registration of the vehicle with "personal" ("vanity" or "cherished mark") plates.
In some jurisdictions, plates require periodic replacement, often associated with a design change of the plate itself. Vehicle owners may or may not have the option to keep their original plate number, and may have to pay a fee to exercise this option. Alternately, or additionally, vehicle owners have to replace a small decal on the plate or use a decal on the windshield to indicate the expiration date of the vehicle registration, periodic safety and/or emissions inspections or vehicle taxation. Other jurisdictions have replaced the decal requirement through the use of computerization: a central database maintains records of which plate numbers are associated with expired registrations, communicating with automated number plate readers to enable law-enforcement to identify expired registrations in the field.
Vehicles pulling trailers, such as caravans and semi-trailer trucks, are typically required to display a third registration plate on the rear of the trailer.
In order to combat registration plate fraud, since the 1920s several jurisdictions developed their own anti-fraud typefaces so that characters cannot be painted or modified to resemble other characters. Since the 1990s, many jurisdictions have adopted FE-Schrift typeface.
English uses 10 digits and 26 letters (languages such as German language, Icelandic and Danish language allow for extra letters), so assuming that the letters vs. numbers must appear in particular locations, (common on plates in most jurisdictions, for instance 4 numbers and 2 letters where the letters must come first, allowing AB1234 but excluding A12B34). Allowing for repeating letters and numbers, the combinations for each of these will be:
|+ ! scope="row" style="width: 200px;"||Combinations possible|
with particular arrangements ! scope="row" style="width: 200px;"
|All possible combinations ! scope="row" style="width: 50px;"||Digits ! scope="row" style="width: 50px;"||Letters ! scope="row" style="width: 75px;"||Sample|
|26,000,000||182,000,000||6||1||123 A 456|
|6,760,000||101,400,000||4||2||AB 12 34|
|67,600,000||1,419,600,000||5||2||AB 123 45|
|175,760,000||6,151,600,000||4||3||12 ABC 34|
|456,976,000||15,994,160,000||3||4||AB 123 CD|
If letters and digits can appear in any order, it is problematic to allow both the letter O and the digit 0 to be used. Even if the license plate uses distinguishable characters for the two, someone transcribing the plate may not know which symbol has which meaning, and the owner of plate EM6F9VO may get in trouble for something the owner of plate EM6F9V0 did. Other letter/number pairs, like I and 1, may be similarly problematic to a lesser degree. Allowing for repeating letters and numbers, the combinations for each of these will be:
|+ ! scope="row" style="width: 200px;"||Combinations possible|
with digit 0 excluded ! scope="row" style="width: 200px;"
with letter O excluded ! scope="row" style="width: 50px;"
|Digits ! scope="row" style="width: 50px;"||Letters|
In the U.S., where each state issues plates, New York State has required plates since 1903 (black numerals on a white background) after first requiring in 1901 only that the owner's initials be clearly visible on the back of the vehicle.Laws of New York Chap 531, § 169a, Apr 25, 1901; Chap. 625, § 169a, May 15, 1903 At first, plates were not government-issued in most and Driving were obliged to make their own. In 1903, Massachusetts was the first state to issue plates. In 1928, Idaho was the first state to put a logo on the plate (the "Idaho Potato").
In Spain, the first law to define rules on non-animal vehicle traction was Real orden de 1897 de circulación de vehículos cuyo motor no sea la fuerza animal and the registration of vehicles was defined as a per province task in the Reglamento de 1900 para el servicio de coches automóviles por las carreteras.
Additional sizes include:
Previous sizes included:
Government vehicles all have the prefix "BX" – these number plates have a white reflective background with red lettering at the front and white on red at the rear. After 'BX' is the last two numerals of the date of issue and then up to four serial numbers.
Botswana Defence Force vehicles have the prefix "BDF" in white on an 'army' green background.
Diplomatic vehicles' number plates start with two numerals which indicate the embassy to which they are attached, then two letters CD (Corps Diplomatique), CC (Consular Corps status) or CT (Foreign Technical and Advisory personnel) and another three digits which are serial. The official car of the Head of Mission uses the letters CMD rather than CD and the private vehicle uses CDA. This series is allocated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.Road Transport (Permits) Act, CHAPTER 69:03
Botswana is the former British Protectorate of Bechuanaland, and number-plates then used a 'BP' prefix (then BPA, BPB, etc.) followed by up to three numbers, in white on black background, the plates being made in the characteristic style of South Africa at that time.
Private passenger car registration plates have a white background with black letters and numbers. Plates exist in a long pattern and a rectangular pattern, similar in size and appearance to French plates. The plate is adorned with a small flag of Burkina Faso in the shape of the country, inscribed in a black circle. The letters "BF" appear below the circle, also in black. This circle and BF design is to the right of the long plate and to the upper right of the rectangular plate. Motorcycle plates are similar to rectangular automobile plates, but smaller.
Commercial registration plates are similar in appearance to private plates, but the background is blue, and the writing and circle are white.
Security forces plates are black with white letters. They are adorned with the emblem of the relevant security service.
Earlier plates (1972–1983, black lettering on white. Pre-1972, white lettering on black) differed in that they could have either one or two numbers to indicate the town of registration. The group of digits was separated from the rest of the plate by a vertical line.
The current plates use numerals without script. Earlier plates used numerals and included Arabic script.
Serial digits progress sequentially from right to left, with the 000 AAA format followed by the 1000AAA format and currently the 4000AAA format.
Older plate serials consisted of three numbers followed by three letters (A to Z, except O and Q). They had a white background with black letters and numbers.
Brazil, as a member of Mercosur, from September 2018 on, began a new registration system where plates do have a blue band at the top with the logo of Mercosur on the left, the country's name centered and country flag on the right. On the bottom left, there is the international vehicle registration code for Brazil: BR. The license plates are always white: the letter coloring indicates the category (e.g., black on white: private; blue on white: official, police, fire departments, etc.; red on white: taxis, buses, paid freight, etc.). A new format based on the previous one, ABC1D23, was implemented. All used cars, when transferred to another owner, must change to the new format keeping their registration, where only its second number (the fifth position of the alphanumeric combination) shall change to a letter, following the pattern: 0=A, 1=B, 2=C, 3=D, ... 9=J. , both formats coexist for the time being.
When a person moves from one province to another, they are normally required to obtain new registration plates issued by the new place of residence.
In the Canadian provinces and territories of Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon, registration plates are currently only required on the rear of the vehicle. The remaining provinces—British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario—require the registration plates to be mounted on both the front and rear of the vehicle.
In 1956, all North American passenger vehicle registration plates, except for French-controlled St. Pierre and Miquelon, were standardized at a size of , although a smaller size is used for certain vehicle classes, such as , and for the state of Delaware's historic alternate black and white plates, which are . The plates of the Northwest Territories are shaped like a polar bear but bolt to the standard holes. Canadian Forces vehicles that travel on regular roads display registration plates. These vehicles have registration plates issued by the Department of National Defence. Domestic plates were issued by the DND after 1968.
The first letter in the letter-number combination indicates the province of issue. The second letter might be sequential or a "key letter" identifying the type of license plate, the following letters and numbers are assigned in sequential order to the date the vehicle has been registered.
(Kingdom of Denmark) [[File:Greenland license plate.jpg|thumb|Greenland license plate; all current plates have the '''GR''' 12 345 format.]]
Greenlandic vehicle registration plates normally have two letters and five digits. The combination is simply a serial and has no connection with a geographic location, but the digits have number series based on vehicle type.
Mexican plates come in several different classifications: Private, Private Border, Public, Public Border, Federal Public Service, Fiscal and Customs Inspection, Mexico Army, and diplomatic. The border plates were introduced in 1972 and are available in the Mexico-USA border zone. This zone is formed by the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur, as well as parts of Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas. While the state of Nuevo León shares a border with the U.S., it does not have any cities within the border zone.
The first registration plates in North America appeared in 1903 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Soon after, other states followed suit, with virtually every state having adopted a form of registration plates by 1918.
The first registration plates in the United States were made out of leather, rubber, iron, and porcelain, painted on the front in usually two different colors—one for the background and one for the lettering. This scheme held true for most states until about 1920. The front of the plate would usually contain the registration number in large digits, and in smaller lettering on one side of the plate, the two- or four-digit year number, and an abbreviated state name. Each year, citizens were usually required to obtain a new registration plate from the state government, which would have a different color scheme than the previous year, making it easier for police to identify whether citizens were current with their vehicle registration.
Even before 1920, some states had adopted the technique of embossing the metal plates with raised lettering and numbering, without porcelain, and applying paint all over the plate, directly onto the metal. Minnesota introduced some registration plates during this period with three different years embossed into the plate, so that the plates were valid for three consecutive years (e.g., 1918, 1919, and 1920).
In the United States, registration plates are issued by each state. The federal government issues plates only for its own vehicle fleet and for vehicles owned by diplomat. In the United States, many American Indian tribal governments issue plates for their members, while some states provide special issues for tribal members. Within each jurisdiction, there may also be special plates for groups such as firefighters or military veterans, and for state, municipality, or province-owned vehicles.
The appearance of plates is frequently chosen to contain symbols or slogans associated with the issuing jurisdiction. Some of these are intended to promote the region. A few make political statements; for example, most plates issued in District of Columbia include the phrase "Taxation Without Representation" to highlight D.C.'s lack of a voting representative in the United States Congress. More recently, some states have also started to put a web address pertaining to the state (such as Pennsylvania, which posts the address of its tourism site). In some states (Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Ohio, and some versions in Florida), the issuing county is listed at the bottom, while Kansas does so with a letter-coded registration sticker; Utah did so until 2003. Indiana identifies counties with a two-digit code in the lower right corner of its plates. Alabama, Idaho, Montana, Ohio, South Dakota, Wyoming, most Nebraska, and some Oklahoma standard issue plates designate the county by unique codes, usually numeric (Idaho uses a one-letter or one-number/one-letter code; Oklahoma uses a one-letter code), either in the plate number or registration sticker. Some states, such as New Hampshire, New Mexico, and New York, formerly used county-coded or county-labeled plates before switching to standard-progression plates.
Most states use plates onto which the letters and numbers are embossed so that they are slightly raised above its surface. Characters on Vermont plates are Engraving onto a large, slightly raised portion of the plate. Seventeen states—Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming—and both the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have moved to entirely digitally printed "flat" registration plates. Several other states, such as Colorado, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, produce a flat registration plate only for certain plates, such as personalized license plates and special interest plates. Nevada reverted from using flat registration plates to using embossed plates, after using flat plates as a standard issue for a few years.
The numbering system of registration plates also varies among the jurisdictions. Some states issue a motorist a serial that stays with that person as long as they live in that state, while other states periodically issue new serials and completely rotate out any old ones. Some states issue registration plates to vehicles rather than owners, and the serial stays with the vehicle for its life. Several states do not regularly use certain letters — most commonly the letters I, O, and/or Q — in their plates, except on vanity plates, so as not to confuse observers with the numbers one and zero.
When a person moves from one state to another, they are normally required to obtain new registration plates issued by the new place of residence. Some U.S. states will even require a person to obtain new plates if they accept employment in that state, unless they can show that they return to another state to live on a regular basis. The most prominent exceptions to this policy are active duty military service members, who legally do not change residence when they move to a new posting. Federal law specifically allows them to choose to either retain the state vehicle registration of their original residence or change registration to their state of assignment.
In the United States, 20 states – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia – do not require an official front registration plate. In Nevada, front plates are optional if the vehicle was not designed for a front plate and the manufacturer did not provide an add-on bracket or other means of displaying the front plate. In Massachusetts, certain old rear-only plates are grandfathered, but newly issued registrations require both front and rear plates. Vehicles owned by the United States Postal Service, unlike other federally owned civilian vehicles, do not bear registration plates, but rather a postal service number such as on the Grumman LLV.
In 1956, all North American passenger vehicle registration plates, except for French-controlled St. Pierre and Miquelon, were standardized at a size of , although a smaller size is used for certain vehicle classes, such as , and for the state of Delaware's historic alternate black and white plates, which are . However, in 2012 Puerto Rico began issuing optional European-style plates that incorporate the design language of the standard-issue plates in a longer and narrower size typically seen in Europe.
Tactical vehicles of the United States military do not bear registration plates, even if they travel regularly on public streets and highways.
In many U.S. states, registration plates are made by prison inmates. Because of this, colloquial terms include "license plate factories" for prison and "making license plates" for serving a prison sentence.
The general format of vehicle registration plates in Bangladesh is "City – Vehicle Class alphabet and No – Vehicle No". For example, : "DHAKA-D-11-9999". The "DHAKA" field represents the city name in , the "D" field represents the vehicle class in , the "11" field represents the vehicle registration serial in Bengali numerals (newer registrations have a higher serial number) and finally, the "9999" field represents the vehicle number of the vehicle in Bengali numerals.
The plates are installed in both the front and rear of the vehicle, with the rear plate permanently attached to the vehicle. The plate is only removed when the vehicle has reached the end of service and has been sold for scrap. New vehicles are not delivered to the purchaser until the plates have been attached at the dealership.
The current plates are of the 2007 standard (GA36-2007), blue background and consist a one-character provincial abbreviation, a letter of the Latin alphabet corresponding to a certain city in the province, and five numbers or letters of the alphabet (e.g. 京A-12345, for a vehicle in Beijing or 粤B-12345 for a vehicle from Shenzhen in Guangdong province). The numbers are produced at random, and are computer-generated at the issuing office. (A previous registration plate system, with a green background and the full name of the province in Chinese characters, actually had a sequential numbering order, and the numbering system was eventually beset with corruption).
Yellow plates are issued to motorcycles and large vehicles, such as coaches and buses. Black plates are issued to vehicles belong to diplomatic missions and foreigners (including Hong Kong and Macau). Vehicles registered in Hong Kong or Macau and permitted to enter China would be required to have a separate black plate from China as Hong Kong and Macau operate their own vehicles registration system. The Chinese plates for these cars followed the pattern of the provincial character for Guangdong (粤), the Latin letter "Z", 4 letters and/or numbers, ending in the abbreviated character for the territory (e.g. 港 for Hong Kong and 澳 for Macau).
For motorcycles, the front plate only included five numbers and rear contained the full information (e.g. for a motorcycle registered in Shanghai as 沪C•12345, the front plate would be "12345" and the rear plate bears the entire set).
In addition, Hong Kong started a new scheme in 2006 to allow personalised registration plates, with up to eight selectable letters or numbers.
The Delhi NCR however uses a modified system wherein an additional alphabet is inserted after the RTO code to classify vehicle type. For example, a Delhi registration plate may read "DL 12 C AB 0496" where "DL" stands for Delhi, "12 C" stands for Car, and "AB 0496" is the series and number. In this scheme, 'C' denotes Car, 'S' denotes Scooter/Motorcycle, 'R' stands for rickshaw (three-wheeler), 'F' stands for "Fancy" or VIP numbers irrespective of vehicle type; and "P" for Public transport vehicles.
Some states have been adapting the dual letter series code system, for example car series' are CA, CB, CC; motorbike series' are MA, MB and so on. Most states however still use the standard series code, denoted by a single letter of the alphabet.
Besides these normal plates, there are also military plates for Army, Navy, Air Force, and also the Police. While diplomatic corps get special white plates and black numbering with "CD" prefix. The normal scheme comprises a one or two letters identification for the regencies, followed by an up to four digit numbers for the car's identification, and the last one to three letters are the serial code or district identification. The expiry date of the license is embossed along the bottom and some on the top of the plate. At the middle of the plate number, the numbers are usually random or requested by the vehicle owner and has a maximum of four digits and a maximum of three letters at the end of the vehicle's plate number, for example it could be: (B 1 T), (B 12 TE), (B 123 TE), and (B 1234 TWE). Sometimes the last maximum three letters at the end of the plate identifies the district region of the registered vehicle by the first letter, for example: (B 1234 WEW) which " W" identifies the vehicle is from the region of Southern South Tangerang city (Kota Tangerang Selatan), Banten province. Vehicle owners may request their vehicle's last letters plate for their own desire, but would need more affairs by the local police registering it, for example that the owner's name is "Adi" then he would make his vehicle's plate number like so: (B 1234 ADI).
The plates usually have their expiration dates shown below or very few on the top of the serial numbers, indicating its expiry month and year, so if it says (03.15) it means that the plate expires at March 2015, so the owner of the vehicle should pay tax and get a new plate at that time, to which the process is redone every 5 years. A new plate design introduced in April 2011 eliminates a white line circling the whole plate and has thinner typeface.
In the prefectural system, the top line names the office at which the vehicle is registered, and includes a numeric code that indicates the class of vehicle. The bottom contains one serial letter (typically a kana), and up to four digits. The classes of registration plate are divided by vehicle type and engine size. For private vehicles kei car, registration plates have black text on a yellow background. Above , a white plate with green text is used. For commercial, non-private vehicles, the colors of the number plate are inverted. An official seal is applied over one (typically the left) screw, preventing the plate being removed and applied to another car.
Municipal registration plates in Japan may vary in color and design.
The most common plates are embossed black-on-white to indicate state ownership; plates indicating KPA use are white-on-black. Motorcycle plates are black-on-yellow or black-on-orange. The very few privately owned motor vehicles which exist in North Korea bear black-on-red plates, while diplomatic plates are white-on-blue. Other types of vehicles (trolleys, emergency vehicles, buses/taxis) are indicated with additional numerical prefixes.
Non-commercial vehicles (nationwide registration number "00-X-0000": X is one Hangeul character denoting type of vehicle) bear plates with white background and black letters, while commercial vehicles (Region name is added as prefix like "Seoul 12 GA 3456") with yellow background and black letters. In older system, non-commercial vehicles plates had green background and white letters.
There are a few exceptions, including diplomats and United States military.
A = Perak B = Selangor C = Pahang D = Kelantan H = Taxi J = Johore K = Kedah KV = Langkawi L = F.T. Labuan M = Malacca (Melaka) N = Negeri Sembilan P = Penang Q = Sarawak R = Perlis S = Sabah T = Trengganu V = F.T. Putra Jaya W = Federal Territory (Wilayah Persekutuan) Kuala Lumpur
The current format was introduced on 21 August 2017. This format consists of L LL NNNN where:
L is the category of vehicle, LL is a "counter" comprising two letters, which increments after the sequence number reaches 9999. NNNN is a sequence number from 0001 to 9999. These plates come with a RFID microchip that enables the government to maintain uniformity in issuance of number plates and prevent duplication. Similarly, the new number plates also help authorities to maintain digital records of vehicles plying on the roads, collect revenue on time and control auto theft.
From January 1, 2006, Punjab has started issuing official number plates for all cars registered in Punjab. Number plates are of Green and White color. The green part is the same all over Punjab and has a sign and 'Punjab' written on it, while the white part has the number of the vehicle.
A typical vehicle registration number comes in the format "SBA 1234 A":
The current series of car registrations in Sri Lanka was introduced in 2000 and is on yellow number plates with black characters and a black border. On the left hand side of the number plate is the country emblem, below which is a two-letter region identifier e.g. WP represents the Western Province. The format of the remainder of the registration is LL – DDDD, with L being a letter and D being a number. The previous series of registrations had been in effect since 1956 and was on brighter yellow plates with the format DD – DDDD. Also they didn't have any national emblem or region identifier. Taxis have white number plates with red lettering.
For example, 51X-XXXX would be used for civilian vehicles, 80X-XXXX with blue background for central government vehicles, 80-XXX-NG-XX for diplomatic vehicles, TC-XX-XX for military vehicles and XXLD-XXX.XX for company vehicles.
According to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, vehicles in cross-border traffic are obliged to display a distinguishing sign of the country of registration on the rear of the vehicle. This sign may either be placed separately from the registration plate or may be incorporated into the vehicle registration plate. With registration plates in the common EU format, vehicles registered in the EU are no longer required to carry an international code plate or sticker for traveling within the European Economic Area. The common EU format is also recognized in countries signatory to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. As are registration plates of other European countries similar to the EU format, such as Norwegian ones; with the Norwegian flag replacing the circle of stars. Both the common EU format, and e.g. Norwegian registration plates satisfies the requirements laid out in the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic; According to the convention, when the distinguishing sign is incorporated into the registration plate, it must also appear on the front registration plate of the vehicle, and may be supplemented with the flag or emblem of the national state, or the emblem of the regional economic integration organization to which the country belongs.
Diplomatic plates are usually denoted by the letters "CD" in Europe which stands for Corps Diplomatique located usually at the beginning of the number plate (France, Belgium, Italy) or middle (Netherlands, Portugal). The United Kingdom uses "D" for "diplomat".
In order to combat registration plate fraud, Germany developed a typeface which is called fälschungserschwerende Schrift (abbr.: FE-Schrift), meaning "falsification-hindering script". It is designed so that, for example, the O cannot be adjusted to look like a Q, or vice versa; nor can the P be painted to resemble an R, amongst other changes. This typeface can more easily be read by radar or visual registration plate reading machines, but can be harder to read with the naked eye, especially when the maximum allowed number of 8 characters in "Engschrift" (narrower script used when available space is limited) are printed on the plate. Many countries have since adopted FE-Schrift, or developed their own anti-fraud typeface.
The first two letters run sequentially with no ties to any geographic region.
The first two digits determine the type of vehicle. For example, 10 through 18 are reserved for motorcycle.
There are six types of Russian registration plates.
Taxis have yellow plates, with the same combination of letters and digits as 'normal' cars.
The diplomatic corps have blue plates. The two first letters indicate the country or organization of the user.
Military vehicles have four to six yellow digits on black background, and may be used for all kinds of vehicles from ordinary automobiles to tanks.
Ukrainian vanity plates are unique in that purchasers may choose any image to be printed on the surface of plate, to the right of the characters.
Within the UK itself there are currently two numbering and registration systems: one for the island of Great Britain, which is administered by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), and one for Northern Ireland, administered by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA): both have equal status. It is optional to show a national identifier on British number plates. Number plates including the "GB" code are valid in countries party to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic if displayed on its own or together with the Union Jack.
In 2019, the UK government announced that it was considering introducing green number plates for zero emissions vehicles, making them easier to recognise. Consequently, from 2020, zero-emissions vehicles can receive a green band on the left-hand side of number plate (in the same place as the blue coloured band of the national identifier.)
Australian number plates were originally issued with white characters on black plates, black on white, black on yellow and blue on white, with each state and territory being allocated a range of plates inside the larger range AAA000 to ZZZ999. New South Wales, for example, was allocated AAA000 to FZZ999, Victoria was allocated from GAA000 to MZZ999, Queensland was allocated NAA000 to QZZ999 and South Australia was allocated from RAA000 to TZZ999. Western Australia was allocated UAA000 and XAA000, Tasmania and the Australia Capital Territory were allocated the series beginning with W and Y respectively. This system worked for a few decades but had been almost completely abandoned by 1980, particularly because some states had exhausted their allocated range of combinations. The Northern Territory never adopted the system.
The states then chose their own systems. New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia all retained xxx-nnn, but each started again from AAA-000. Queensland reversed the arrangement to nnn-xxx. Western Australia took nxx-nnn, and the ACT kept the Y plate range but substituted the last digit for a letter, giving Yxx-nnx. In 2013, Victoria became the last state to abandon the xxx-nnn format.
Current arrangements are listed below.
All current plates are manufactured to uniform dimensions and are made of pressed aluminium, except for certain special series plates; the form of which differs by state and design.
In 1942, the government released a new special series only alphabet (XB-AA OPS).
To show that a vehicle is registered in Australia, a sticker must be displayed in the lower left corner of either the rear left window or windscreen in annual colors on a 6-year cycle: blue, red, purple, brown, green and orange. This sticker is issued to the registered owner of the vehicle upon payment of the next year's registration fee, and shows the expiry date of the registration. They are color-coded for easy recognition of the year of expiry. The sticker shows the plate number, Vehicle Identification Number, make, model, and color of the vehicle, along with other such information. This acts as an anti-theft device, because transplanting the plates from one car to another will be in contrast to the details on the sticker.
The Western Australia registration sticker shows only the month and year of expiry. However, since the Western Australian police now have such easy access to registration information based on the numberplate via in-car computer systems found in all police vehicles, registration stickers in Western Australia have been completely scrapped. As of 1 January 2010 they will no longer be required or made – a move that is said to save at least $2 million over 4 years in costs for printing and postage. Car owners will also feel the relief of not having to perform the tedious task of removing and re-applying the registration sticker every 6–12 months. As of 1 January 2013 NSW have also scrapped registration stickers. NT also scrapped registration stickers as of 1 January 2014. Tasmania scrapped registration stickers as of 1 January 2014.
In the Australian Capital Territory, vehicles under 4.5 tonnes are no longer required to display registration labels as of 1 July 2013.
In Queensland, when all of the 123-ABC combinations had been taken, the plates have the combination 123-AB4. When they run out of combinations for that series the number will move to the left.
Code format: 123-A4B Cars owned by the government have special numberplates, some also have a crown and symbols.
Personalized number plates were introduced to New Zealand in 1987. Due to the smaller size and population of New Zealand, the same system is used across all of the country. Number plates are usually issued by the New Zealand Transport Agency.
Many countries allow licensed amateur radio operators to obtain registration plates (labeled "Amateur Radio") with their printed on them, allowing public service officials controlling access to to immediately recognize and allow operators into the areas, facilitating their provision of crucial emergency communications. Some U.S. states charge lower fees for ham radio plates than for vanity plates. For example, in Virginia the annual cost of an amateur radio vanity plate is a mere $1.
In the U.S., most provinces of Canada, and Australia, vehicle owners may also pay extra for specialty plates: with these, the sequence of letters and numbers is chosen by the licensing agency – as with regular plates – but the owners select a plate design that is different from the normal registration plate. Fees for specialty plates are usually channeled to a specific charity or organization. For example, California has issued the "Yosemite plate" and "whale tail plate," both aimed at conservation efforts in the respective domains. Some jurisdictions allow for these special plates to also be vanity plates, usually for an additional fee on top of the cost of the plate.
In some Australian states, it is possible to purchase "personalized plates", where an individual can choose the color, design, and sometimes even the shape and size of the plate, as well as the displayed text. For example, the government of the state of Queensland offers a wide range of possibilities for customization, including some emoji. Another style of plate that is common in some states of Australia is "Euro Plates", which are the same size as European plates (rather than the narrower taller Australian plates) to fit on the numberplate holders in European cars.
The "personal plate" industry in the United Kingdom is huge, with a large number of private dealers acting as agents for DVLA issues as well as holding their own or communal stock. The official term for what is often incorrectly called a "personal", "personalized" or "private" plate is a "cherished mark", as the alphanumeric code on the plate is the "index mark" — that is, the "mark" assigned to the vehicle on the central registry or "index". UK registrations or indexes cannot be owned outright by individuals, even though they may appear to have been purchased. They are issued by government agencies and can be recalled or cancelled at any time if misuse is suspected.
The main difference regarding "personal plates" between the UK and many other countries, is that drivers are not able to make, or request, their own. What is being traded is coincidences in the existing numbering system where the numbers and letters appear to spell something. For example, M15 ERY looks like MISERY or J4 MES looks similar to JAMES. However, a lot of people buying "personal plates" choose to get them with their initials on. For example, Tony John Smith may want a plate that says E2 TJS. Often, illegal fonts, digit-spacings or colored screw heads are used to enhance the appearance of the "word". UK legislation can require a fine of up to £1000 per offense in the case of an illegally altered registration index mark.
The highest price paid for a personal number plate in Britain was once £440,000 for car registration "F1" sold at auction in January 2008, but this record was broken in November 2014, when a buyer purchased number plate "25 O" for £518,000 at a DVLA auction.
The world record for the most expensive registration plate is US$14 million. The registration plate "1" was bought at an auction in Abu Dhabi.
Novelty registration plates are usually installed by motorists or automobile dealerships. While automobile dealerships may install such plates for promoting their business, motorists may install novelty registration plates to express their brand preference or an affiliation with a group, state, country, athletic team, hobby, art, or custom.
Antique auto collectors may use novelty replicas of period registration plates to give their show cars a dated look, or import vehicle owners may use a novelty replica of a foreign plate to give it a foreign image. Some states allow year of manufacture registrations where an original, official plate expiring on the model year of an antique car is revalidated. Wisconsin, for instance, permits the use of year-of-manufacture plates if the state-issued plates are also carried somewhere within the vehicle. California and Ohio also allow the Year-of-manufacture Plates.
The manufacture and use of registration plate toppers – attachments and accessories mounted atop plates, often as advertising premiums – has diminished because of the design of modern vehicle bodies that incorporate recessed plate mountings. But older vehicles will usually have room for such attachments that may mention vehicle dealerships, tourist attractions and petroleum companies. Some of these commercial toppers also incorporate one or more reflectors or a safety-related message. Large stand-alone glass or plastic reflectors or Retroreflector – some imprinted with an advertising message – are still common plate toppers whenever registration-plate brackets are able to accommodate them.
The physical requirements for the separate sign are defined in Annex 3 of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, which states that the letters shall be in black on a white background having the shape of an ellipse with the major axis horizontal. The distinguishing sign should not be affixed in such a way that it could be confused with the registration number or impair its legibility.
The allocation of codes is maintained by the United Nations (UN) as the Distinguishing Signs of Vehicles in International Traffic, being authorized by the UN's Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (1949) and Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (1968). Many, but far from all, vehicle codes created since the adoption of ISO 3166 coincide with either the ISO two- or three-letter codes.
In the United Kingdom, imitation international codes are sometimes seen for the various parts of the country. For example, in Scotland, oval stickers with "Ecosse" or "Alba" (Scotland in French and Gaelic respectively) are occasionally seen. In Wales, drivers commonly display "CYM" to indicate Cymru (Wales).
In the Czech Republic, in large cities (notably Prague and Brno), these imitation international codes are usually used to show the district inside the city where the driver resides (e.g. DE for Dejvice).