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Example of the white oval plate or sticker; this one represents Switzerland
Example of the yellow oval diplomatic and consular corps plate or sticker
A 1960 Borgward Isabella showing the international vehicle code NL (Netherlands)
Estonian registration plate in EU standard format with international code EST

The country in which a motor vehicle's vehicle registration plate was issued may be indicated by an international licence plate country code, formerly known as an International Registration Letter[1] or International Circulation Mark.[2] The sign must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle. The sign may either be placed separately from the registration plate, or be incorporated into the vehicle registration plate.

The allocation of codes is maintained by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe as the Distinguishing Signs Used on Vehicles in International Traffic[3] (sometimes abbreviated to DSIT), authorised by the UN's Geneva Convention on Road Traffic[4] of 1949 and the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic[5] of 1968. Many vehicle codes created since the adoption of ISO 3166 coincide with ISO two- or three-letter codes.

The 2004 South-East Asian Agreement ... for the Facilitation of Cross-Border Transport of Goods and People uses a mixture of ISO and DSIT codes: Myanmar uses MYA, China CHN, and Cambodia KH (ISO codes), Thailand uses T (DSIT code), Laos LAO, and Vietnam VN (coincident ISO and DSIT codes).[6]

The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic was concluded in Vienna on 8 November 1968. Since its entry into force on 21 May 1977, in signatory countries it replaces previous road traffic conventions, notably the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, in accordance with its Article 48. One of the main benefits of the convention for motorists is the obligation on signatory countries to recognize the legality of vehicles from other signatory countries. When driving in other signatory countries, the distinguishing sign of the country of registration must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle. The sign may either be placed separately from the registration plate as a white oval plate or sticker, or be incorporated in the vehicle registration plate. When the distinguishing sign is incorporated in the registration plate, it must also appear on the front registration plate of the vehicle.

  • The physical requirements for the separate sign are defined in Annex 3 of the Vienna Convention, 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.
  • 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. The distinguishing sign should be displayed on the far left or far right of the registration plate. When a symbol, flag or emblem is also displayed, the distinguishing sign shall be placed on the far left of the plate. The distinguishing sign shall be positioned so as to be easily identifiable and so that it cannot be confused with the registration number or impair its legibility. The distinguishing sign shall therefore be at least a different colour from the registration number, or have a different background colour from that reserved for the registration number, or be clearly separated from the registration number, preferably with a line.

The requirement to display a separate distinguishing sign is not necessary within the European Economic Area, for vehicles with license plates in the common EU format which satisfy the requirements of the Vienna Convention, and so are also valid in non-EU countries signatory to the convention.[7] Separate signs are also not needed for Canada, Mexico and the United States, where the province, state or district of registration is usually embossed or surface-printed on the vehicle registration plate.

Contents

Current codesEdit

Code Country From Previous
Code
Notes
A   Austria 1910
AFG   Afghanistan 1971
AL   Albania 1934
AM   Armenia 1992 SU Formerly part of the Soviet Union
AND   Andorra 1957
AUS   Australia 1954
AZ   Azerbaijan 1993 SU Formerly part of the Soviet Union
B   Belgium 1910
BD   Bangladesh 1978 PAK Formerly East Pakistan
BDS   Barbados 1956
BF   Burkina Faso 1990 RHV / HV Until August 2003, 1984; (République de) Haute Volta (Upper Volta)
BG   Bulgaria 1910
BH   Belize 1938 Former British Honduras. Still officially registered as BH as of 2007.
BIH   Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992 YU Bosna i Hercegovina. Formerly part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, an earlier name for Yugoslavia.
BOL   Bolivia 1967
BR   Brazil 1930
BRN   Bahrain 1954
BRU   Brunei 1956
BS   Bahamas 1950
BUR   Myanmar 1956 BA Also known as Burma.
BVI   British Virgin Islands 1910
BW[8]   Botswana 2003 BP Officially used by Botswana since 2003. Formerly RB (Republic of Botswana) until 2004. Formerly Bechuanaland Protectorate
BY   Belarus 1992 (2004) SU Byelorussia; formerly part of the Soviet Union. The UN was officially notified of the change from SU to BY only in 2004.[9]
C   Cuba 1930
CAM   Cameroon 1952 F & WAN Formerly a territory of France, plus a strip of territory from eastern Nigeria (WAN). Unofficially using CMR on their plates.
CDN   Canada 1956 CA
CGO   Democratic Republic of the Congo 1997 CB, RCL, CGO, ZR Congo Belge (French), République de Congo Léopoldville (French), Congo (Kinshasa), Zaïre, République Démocratique du Congo (French)
CH    Switzerland 1911 Confœderatio Helvetica (Latin)
CI   Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) 1961 F Formerly a territory of France
CL   Sri Lanka 1961 Formerly Ceylon
CO   Colombia 1952
CR   Costa Rica 1956
CY   Cyprus 1932
CZ   Czech Republic 1993 CS Formerly Československo (Czechoslovakia)
D   Germany 1910 Deutschland (German); also used until 1974 by   East Germany, which then used DDR until German reunification in 1990
DK   Denmark 1914
DOM   Dominican Republic 1952
DY   Benin 1910 Part of AOF
(Afrique occidentale
française)
− 1960
Dahomey (name until 1975). Uses RB unofficially (République Béninoise)
DZ   Algeria 1962 F − 1911 Djazayer (Algerian Arabic); Formerly part of France
E   Spain 1910 España (Spanish)
EAK   Kenya 1938 East Africa Kenya
EAT   Tanzania 1938 EAT & EAZ East Africa Tanzania; formerly East Africa Tanganyika and East Africa Zanzibar
EAU   Uganda 1938 East Africa Uganda
EAZ   Zanzibar 1964 East Africa Zanzibar
EC   Ecuador 1962
EIR   Ireland 1938 GB − 1910
SE − 1924
IRL − 1962
Éire or Ireland. Formerly a part of the United Kingdom and formerly Saorstát Éireann. Activists want the name of the country represented in the Irish language by changing the code back to EIR or ÉIR, but this is unnecessary, as Statutory Instrument No. 269 of 1961 provides: " ... the letters EIR are used to indicate the name of the State but the letters IRL may be substituted therefor."
ER   Eritrea 1993 AOI Africa Orientale Italiana (Italian)
ES   El Salvador 1978
EST   Estonia 1993 EW 1919–1940 & 1991–1993
SU 1940–1991
Eesti Vabariik (Estonian; old style Eesti Wabariik); formerly occupied by the Soviet Union
ET   Egypt 1927
ETH   Ethiopia 1964 AOI − 1941 Africa Orientale Italiana (Italian)
F   France 1910
FIN   Finland 1993 SF Suomi / Finland (Finnish/Swedish)
FJI   Fiji 1971
FL   Liechtenstein 1923 Fürstentum Liechtenstein (German, Principality of Liechtenstein)
FO   Faroe Islands 1996 Føroyar
G   Gabon 1974 ALEF − 1960 Afrique Équatoriale Française. Unofficially using RG on their license plates.
GB   United Kingdom (of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) 1910 Before 1922, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
GBA   Alderney 1924 Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Alderney
GBG   Guernsey 1924 Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Guernsey
GBJ   Jersey 1924 Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Jersey
GBM   Isle of Man 1932 Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Isle of Man
GBZ   Gibraltar 1924 Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Gibraltar (Z was assigned because G was already used for Guernsey)
GCA   Guatemala 1956 Guatemala, Central America
GE   Georgia 1992 SU Formerly part of the Soviet Union. Older licence plates use "GEO" instead of "GE". Also used illegally by Equatorial-Guinea (Guinea Ecuatorial).
GH   Ghana 1959 WAC − 1957 West Africa Gold Coast − 1957
GR   Greece 1913
GUY   Guyana 1972 BRG Formerly British Guiana − 1966
H   Hungary 1910
HKJ   Jordan 1966 JOR Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
HN   Honduras ? unofficial - no other code found for Honduras
HR   Croatia 1992 SHS 1919–29
Y 1929–53
YU 1953–92
Hrvatska (Croatian). Formerly part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, an earlier name for Yugoslavia.

Immediately after Croatia's declaration of independence in 1991,
it was common to see unofficial oval stickers with the letters "CRO".
Despite the initial anticipation that Croatia's international vehicle registration code would be "CRO", Croatia opted for "HR" (Hrvatska) instead.
SHS was for the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca).

I   Italy 1919
IL   Israel 1952 "Israel" is written on the plate also in Hebrew (ישראל) and Arabic (إسرائيل)
IND   India 1947
IR   Iran 1936
IRL   Ireland 1962 GB − 1910
SE − 1924
EIR − 1938
Formerly a part of the United Kingdom, Saorstát Éireann, Éire.
There is a campaign by Irish language activists underway to have the name of the country in the native language represented by changing the code back to EIR or ÉIR.
However Statutory Instrument No. 269 of 1961 already provides: " ... the letters EIR are used to indicate the name of the State but the letters IRL may be substituted therefor."
IRQ   Iraq 1930
IS   Iceland 1936 Ísland (Icelandic)
J   Japan 1964
JA   Jamaica 1932
K   Cambodia 1956 F − 1949 Known as Kampuchea 1976–89. Formerly a territory of France.
KS   Kyrgyzstan 1992 SU − 1991 Formerly part of the Soviet Union. However, “KG” is being used on current plates and most vehicles use "KGZ" oval stickers instead of "KS".
KSA   Saudi Arabia 1973 SA Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
KWT   Kuwait 1954
KZ   Kazakhstan 1992 SU − 1991 Formerly part of the Soviet Union
L   Luxembourg 1911
LAO   Laos 1959 F – 1949 Formerly a territory of France (French Indochina)
LAR   Libya 1972 I − 1949, LT Libyan Arab Republic
LB   Liberia 1967
LS   Lesotho 1967 BL Basutoland − 1966
LT   Lithuania 1992 SU 1940–1991 Formerly occupied by the Soviet Union
LV   Latvia 1992 LR 1927–1940
SU 1940–1991
Latvijas Republika (Latvian); Formerly occupied by the Soviet Union
M   Malta 1966 GBY 1924–66
MA   Morocco 1924 Maroc (French)
MAL   Malaysia 1967 PRK – 1957
FM 1954-7
PTM 1957–67
Formerly Perak, then Federated Malay States, then Persekutuan Tanah Melayu (Malay)
MC   Monaco 1910
MD   Moldova 1992 SU − 1991 Formerly part of the Soviet Union
MEX   Mexico 1952
MNE   Montenegro 2006 MN – 1913–1919
SHS 1919–29
Y 1929–53
YU 1953–2003
SCG 2003–2006
Independent nation until 1918. After that, part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca – Serbo-Croatian), then part of Yugoslavia and then Serbia and Montenegro (Srbija i Crna Gora – Serbian). Independence restored in 2006.
MNG   Mongolia 2002 MGL 1997–2002
MOC   Mozambique 1975 MOC: 1932–56
P: 1957–75
Formerly part of Portugal. Moçambique (Portuguese)
MS   Mauritius 1938
MW   Malawi 1965 EA 1932–38
NP – 1938–70
RNY option 1960–65
Formerly the Nyasaland Protectorate
N   Norway 1922
NA   Netherlands Antilles 1957
NAM   Namibia 1990 SWA Formerly South West Africa
NAU   Nauru 1968
NEP     Nepal 1970
NIC   Nicaragua 1952
NL   Netherlands 1910
NMK   North Macedonia 2019 YU − 1992
MK 1992–2019
Formerly part of Yugoslavia. Known as Republic of Macedonia until 2019
NZ   New Zealand 1958
P   Portugal 1910
PA   Panama 1952
PE   Peru 1937
PK   Pakistan 1947
PL   Poland 1921
PNG   Papua New Guinea 1978
PY   Paraguay 1952
Q   Qatar 1972
RA   Argentina 1927 República Argentina (Spanish)
RC   Republic of China (Taiwan) 1932
RCA   Central African Republic 1962 République Centrafricaine (French)
RCB   Republic of the Congo 1962 République du Congo Brazzaville (French)
RCH   Chile 1930 República de Chile (Spanish)
RG   Guinea 1972 République de Guinée (French)
RH   Haiti 1952 République d'Haïti (French)
RI   Indonesia 1955 Republik Indonesia (Indonesian)
RIM   Mauritania 1964 République islamique de Mauritanie (French)
RKS   Kosovo 2010 Republic of Kosovo
RL   Lebanon 1952 République Libanaise (French)
RM   Madagascar 1962 République de Madagascar (French)
RMM   Mali 1962 AOF − 1960 République du Mali (French). Formerly part of French West Africa (Afrique Occidentale Française)
RN   Niger 1977 AOF − 1960 République du Niger' (French). Formerly part of French West Africa (Afrique Occidentale Française)
RO   Romania 1981 R - 1981
ROK   South Korea 1971
RP   Philippines 1975 Republic of the Philippines
RSM   San Marino 1932 Repubblica di San Marino (Italian)
RU   Burundi 1962? Belgian territory of Ruanda-Urundi. Unofficially using BU on their plates.
RUS   Russia 1992 SU Formerly part of the Soviet Union
RWA   Rwanda 1964 RU − 1962 Formerly part of Ruanda-Urundi − 1962
S   Sweden 1911
SD   Eswatini 1935
SGP   Singapore 1952
SK   Slovakia 1993 CS 1919–39,1945–92
SQ 1939–45
Formerly Československo (Czechoslovakia)
SLO   Slovenia 1992 SHS 1919–29
Y 1929–53
YU 1953–92
Formerly part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, then part of Yugoslavia
SME   Suriname 1936
SN   Senegal 1962
SO   Somalia 1974
SRB   Serbia 2006 SB – 1919
SHS 1919–29
Y 1929–53
YU 1953–2003
SCG 2003–2006
Formerly part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i SlovenacaSerbo-Croatian).
Then part of Yugoslavia.
Then Serbia and Montenegro (Srbija i Crna GoraSerbian)
SUD   Sudan 1963
SY   Seychelles 1938
SYR   Syria 1952
T   Thailand 1955
TCH, TD   Chad 1973 Tchad (French)
TG   Togo 1973
TJ   Tajikistan 1992 SU − 1991 Formerly part of the Soviet Union
TM   Turkmenistan 1992 SU − 1991 Formerly part of the Soviet Union
TN   Tunisia 1957 F − 1956 Formerly a territory of France
TR   Turkey 1923
TT   Trinidad and Tobago 1964
UA   Ukraine 1992 SU Formerly part of the Soviet Union
UAE   United Arab Emirates 1971
USA   United States 1952
UY   Uruguay 2012 ROU
UZ   Uzbekistan 1992 SU Formerly part of the Soviet Union
V    Vatican City 1931 SCV (Stato della Città del Vaticano) is used as a prefix on the licence plate number itself.
VN   Vietnam 1953
WAG   Gambia 1932 West Africa Gambia
WAL   Sierra Leone 1937 West Africa Sierra Leone; on local licence plates SLE is used
WAN   Nigeria 1937 West Africa Nigeria
WD   Dominica 1954 Windward Islands Dominica
WG   Grenada 1932 Windward Islands Grenada
WL   Saint Lucia 1932 Windward Islands Saint Lucia
WS   Samoa 1962 Formerly Western Samoa
WV   Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1932 Windward Islands Saint Vincent
YAR   Yemen 1960 North Yemen formerly known as the Yemen Arab Republic
YV   Venezuela 1955
Z   Zambia 1964 RNR Prepared for independence as the Republic of Northern Rhodesia
ZA   South Africa 1936 Zuid-Afrika (from Dutch; in Afrikaans it is Suid-Afrika[10])
ZW   Zimbabwe 1980 SR, RSR Formerly Southern Rhodesia until 1965, Rhodesia unrecognised until 1980

Codes no longer in useEdit

Code Country Used until Replaced by Notes
ADN   Aden 1980 Y From 1938. a.k.a. South Yemen, People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (1967)
BA   Burma 1956 BUR From 1937.
BP   Bechuanaland Protectorate 1966 Now Botswana
CA   Canada 1956 CDN
CS   Czechoslovakia 1992 CZ / SK Split into Czech Republic and Slovakia.
DA   Danzig, Free City of 1939 D (1939–1945)
PL (since 1945)
Danzig (German for Gdańsk)
DDR   German Democratic Republic 1990 D From 1974 (used D until 1974), Deutsche Demokratische Republik
GBY   Malta 1966 M Changed after Independence from UK
EW   Estonia 1993 EST Eesti Vabariik (Estonian)
FR   Faroe Islands 1996 FO Føroyar (Faroese)
GRO   Greenland 1910 KN Grønland (Danish language) / Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenlandic language). Unofficial. The official code is DK.
HV   Upper Volta (French: Haute-Volta), now Burkina Faso 1984 BF Upper Volta
LR   Latvia 1927–1940 SU, LV Latvijas Republika (Latvian)
MK   Republic of Macedonia 1992–2019 NMK Became North Macedonia in 2019
R   Romania 1981 RO
RB   Botswana 1966 BP Republic of Botswana. Formerly Bechuanaland Protectorate
RNY   Rhodesia-Nyasaland Fed. 1953–1963 NP, NR, SR Now Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe
ROU   Uruguay 1979–2012 UY República Oriental del Uruguay (Spanish)
RSR   Southern Rhodesia 1965–1979 SR Now Zimbabwe
RT   Togo 1973 TG République togolaise (French). Formerly French Togoland − 1960
SA   Saar Territory (League of Nations mandate) 1926–1935 D SA is again Germany's Saarland
SA   Saar Protectorate 1947–1956 D SA is again Germany's Saarland
SB   Serbia 1919 SHS Serbia became part of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
SCG   Serbia and Montenegro 2006 MNE, SRB From Serbian name "Srbija i Crna Gora". Now Montenegro, Serbia
SF   Finland 1993 FIN SF from "Suomi – Finland" (the names of the country in its official languages, Finnish and Swedish)
SHS   Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes 1929 Y Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca – Serbo-Croatian. Kingdom changed its name to Yugoslavia
SU   Soviet Union 1991 EST, LT, LV, BY, MD, UA, TJ, TM, GE, KZ, UZ, KS, AZ, AM, RUS
SWA   South West Africa 1990 now Namibia
TS   Free Territory of Trieste 1947–1954 Territory A Zone. Now under Italy administration
Y   Yugoslavia 1953 YU Yemen started using Y afterwards
YU   /   Yugoslavia 1992 BIH, HR, NMK, MNE, RKS, SRB, SLO Now Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, and Slovenia. MK for Macedonia was in use from 1993 until 2019

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has been recognized as an independent state by 112 out of 193 United Nations member states, while 11 states have recognized Kosovo only to later withdraw their recognition.

 
The unofficial code for Brittany, Bzh
Note

There are unofficial codes in common use, such as "AS" for Asturias, "CAT" for Catalonia, "CYM" for Wales, "BZH" for Brittany, "VL" for Flanders, "V" for Vojvodina/Vajdaság, "TS" for Transylvania,"PR" for Puerto Rico, "SIC" for Székely Land (from Latin Terra Siculorum) and "CD" for "Corps Diplomatique". Some of these, such as "VL" which is used by Flemish separatists, are technically illegal under their countries' laws.

In addition, in some areas, vehicle-style stickers have been used to denote and promote other entities, such as towns, islands, businesses, and even associations. These irregular stickers almost always bear an explanation of the code in small print near the edge of the sticker, as the codes used are so unknown.

Diplomatic licence plate codesEdit

A separate system is used for vehicles belonging to the diplomats of foreign countries with license plate from the host country. That system is host country-specific and varies largely from country to country. For example TR on a diplomatic car in the USA indicates Italian, not Turkish. Such markings in Norway are indicated with numbers only, again different from international standards (e.g. 90 means Slovakian).

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ See Georgano, G. N. and Andersen, Thorkil Ry; The New encyclopedia of motorcars, 1885 to the present; p. 18 ISBN 0525932542
  2. ^ See Harding, Anthony and Bird, Anthony; Guinness Book of Car Facts and Feats: A Record of Everyday Motoring and Automotive Achievements; p. 243. ISBN 0851122078
  3. ^ United Nations, Distinguishing Signs Used on Vehicles in International Traffic, 15 February 2007
  4. ^ "Convention of Road Traffic signed at Geneva September, 19 1949 - Annex 4. Distinguishing Sign of Vehicles in International Traffic". Auto Driver Club. NYS ZONE INC. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  5. ^ "Convention on Road Traffic on 8 November 1968 - Index Page". Auto Driver Club. NYS ZONE INC. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  6. ^ Agreement between and among the Governments of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the People's Republic of China, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, the Union of Myanmar, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for the Facilitation of Cross-Border Transport of Goods and People, Annex 2: Registration of Vehicles in International Traffic Archived March 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, 2004 (also here "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2010-03-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) and here "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-31. Retrieved 2010-03-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link))
  7. ^ "Council Regulation (EC) No 2411/98". Council of the European Union. 3 November 1998.
  8. ^ http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/conventn/Distsigns
  9. ^ http://www.minbuza.nl/en/Key_Topics/Treaties/Search_the_Treaty_Database?verdragid=12396[dead link]
  10. ^ See article .za

Further readingEdit

  • "RPW": Neil Parker and John Weeks, Registration Plates of the World, Europlate; 4th edition (2004)

External linksEdit