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Vehicle registration plates of Australia

Australian vehicle registration plates or number plates are issued by state, territory, and Commonwealth governments, and the armed forces of Australia. The plates are associated with a vehicle and are generally intended to last for the time the vehicle remains registered in the state, though as they become unreadable (or for other reasons) they may be recalled or replaced with newer ones. Motor vehicle registration in Australia requires annual renewal together with payment of the registration fee.

Current standard issue plates

Standard issue

State or territory Text/background colour Serial format Legend Current series Notes
Australian Capital Territory blue/white Yaa·nna CANBERRA - THE NATION'S CAPITAL
YNR·00A Legend embossed at bottom. "The Bush Capital" used as alternative slogan.
New South Wales black/yellow aa·nn·aa NEW SOUTH WALES CV·00·NG Legend embossed at bottom.
Northern Territory ochre/white aa·nn·aa N.T. OUTBACK AUSTRALIA CD·70·AA Legend embossed at bottom.
Queensland maroon/white nnn·aaa QUEENSLAND - SUNSHINE STATE 000·ZGB Legend embossed at bottom.
South Australia black/white Snnn·aaa SOUTH AUSTRALIA S000·CBM Legend embossed at bottom.
Tasmania blue/white a nn aa Tasmania – Explore the possibilities I 00 MK State logo (a thylacine in reeds) screened at left. Legend screened at bottom.
Victoria blue/white naa·naa VICTORIA – THE EDUCATION STATE 1QF·1AA Legend screened at bottom.
Western Australia blue/white naaa·nnn WESTERN AUSTRALIA 1GWW·000 Motif screened at top featuring blue skyline, desert sun and legend

Other issue

State or territory Text/background colour Serial format Legend Current series Notes
Australian Capital Territory blue/white Yaa·nna ACT
YNV·00A ACT "Premium" slimline; no slogan - New release June 2018
New South Wales black/white aaa·nna NSW EDL·00A NSW "Premium" slimline; no slogan
white/black CAa·nna NSW CAH·00A NSW "Premium" slimline; no slogan. Always starts with CA (For foreseeable future)
silver/black DGa·nna NSW DGE·00A NSW "Premium" slimline; no slogan. Always starts with DG (For foreseeable future)
black/white Yaa·nna NSW YJQ·00A Slimline; dealer or fleet manager logo printed at bottom. Dealer/fleet branded plate is either sold or leased together with vehicle. Read more
indigo/white nnnnn·J NSW – HISTORIC VEHICLE 01104·J Slogan screen printed on plate, plate is smaller than slimline, vehicles must be at least 30 years old to apply
green/white nnnnn·D NSW – CONDITIONAL 93000·D Slogan screen printed on plate
maroon/white nnnnn·R NSW – RALLY PERMIT 01300·R Slogan screen printed on plate, vehicles must be on a rally track
South Australia black/white SB·nn·aa SA HEAVY VEHICLE SB·00·RD Slogan screen printed black/white
aa·nnna SA EE·000B "Premium" slimline; no slogan
blue/white Snnn·BQa SA Government S000·BQA For SA Government Vehicles only. Q Represents "Queen"
Victoria white/black aaa·nnn VIC (vertically on left) BDH·000 "Premium" slimline, No Slogan
red/white Maa·nnn VICTORIA - THE EDUCATION STATE MDK·000 Slogan screen printed on plate, for VIC government owned/leased vehicles only
blue/white nnnnn·P PRIMARY PRODUCER VICTORIA - THE EDUCATION STATE 07500·P Slogan screen printed on plate, for vehicles engaged solely or substantially in agricultural, horticultural, viticultural, dairying, pastoral or other like pursuits[1]
white/green BSnn·aa VIC – ACCREDITED BUS SERVICE BS05·II Slogan screen printed on bus plate
white/burgundy nnnn·Hn CLUB PERMIT VICTORIA 1400·H1 Slogan screen printed at top "Club Permit", Victoria at bottom, vehicles must be at least 25 years old to apply
white/burgundy nnnnn·M CLUB PERMIT VICTORIA 40000·M Slogan screen printed at top "Club Permit", Victoria at bottom, for highly modified vehicles, vehicles must be at least 25 years old
white/navy blue nnnn·RP RALLY PERMIT VICTORIA 5000·RP Slogan screen printed at top "Rally Permit", Victoria at bottom, for vehicles used in rallies organised by a national motorsport organisation recognised by VicRoads
Queensland maroon/white L·nnnnn Queensland - Limousine L·13000 Queensland - Limousine
maroon/white SL·nn·aa Queensland - Limousine SL·00·AD Queensland - Limousine
orange/white F·nnnnn QLD F·05300 QLD Farm plates

Trailers

State or territory Text/background colour Serial format Legend Current series Notes
Australian Capital Territory blue/white T nnnn a ACT T 7000 H Legend embossed at top.
New South Wales black/yellow Ta·nn·aa NSW - TRAILER TG·00·ED Legend embossed at bottom. Serials began at TA·03·AA.
black/white TR·nn·aa NSW TR·00·WC Serials began at TR·00·AA.
Northern Territory ochre/white Ta·nnnn N.T. - OUTBACK AUSTRALIA - TN·0000 Legend embossed at bottom.
Queensland maroon/white nnn·Uaa QUEENSLAND - SUNSHINE STATE 000·UKE Issued to large trailers (over 1.02t ATM). Legend embossed at bottom.
Fa·nnnn QLD FE·0000 Issued to small trailers (up to 1.02t ATM).
South Australia black/white Snnn·Taa SOUTH AUSTRALIA S000·THP Legend embossed at bottom.
Tasmania blue/white Y nn aa Tasmania – Explore the possibilities Y 00 ME State logo (a thylacine in reeds) screened at left. Legend screened at bottom. Serials Z 00 AA through Z 99 ZZ issued first, followed by Y 00 AA onwards.
Victoria blue/white Znn·nnn VICTORIA – THE EDUCATION STATE Z65·000 Standard trailer plate. Legend screened at bottom on all three types.
nnnn·Sn 1000·S1 Issued to truck semi-trailers.
nnnnn·A 21000·A Primary Producer plate, issued to articulated trailers. Additional "PRIMARY PRODUCER" legend screened at top.
Western Australia blue/white 1Taa·nnn WESTERN AUSTRALIA 1TUO·000 Motif screened at top featuring blue skyline, desert sun and legend.

Motorcycles

State or territory Text/background colour Serial format Legend Current series Notes
Australian Capital Territory blue/white A·nnnn ACT A·2500
New South Wales black/yellow Kaa·nn NSW KQA·00 Serials progress backwards from ZZZ·99.
black/white Eaa·nn NSW EDE·00 Serials progress forwards from ABA·00.
Northern Territory ochre/white B·nnnn NT B·8000
Queensland maroon/white nnn·Ta QLD 000·TA
South Australia black/white Snn·Baa SA S00·BLI
Tasmania blue/white Bnnna TAS B000I
Victoria blue/white 2a·naa VIC 2I·5AA
Western Australia blue/white 1Ja·nnn WA 1JG·000

On all motorcycle plates, the legend is embossed at the top.

History and Federal numbering scheme

Standards and federal allocations for all vehicles

From 1910 onwards all Australian plates started at number 1 and were manufactured in enamel.

Since 1936, Australian plates were to be uniform in size and use embossing in standard Australian dies, beginning with New South Wales, FCT (now ACT) and Victoria. By 1956 the remaining states and territories moved into standard Australian embossing from either stamped or enamel, standardising in dimensions of 372 mm (14.6 in) × 134 mm (5.3 in).

From 1951–52, Australian automobiles were to adopt a broad scheme across all states and territories for vehicle number plates. Both New South Wales and Victoria had previously issued plates with 2-letters, 3-digits, white on a black background. However, while implemented, this was not entirely popular as some states and territories preferred their own identity reflected on their vehicles instead. They were meant to use the following proposed scheme:

State or territory Allocated blocks Original format colours Years Actual issues Notes
Australian Capital Territory YAA-000 to YZZ-999 YAA•000 1968-1998 YAA-000 to YZZ-999
New South Wales AAA-000 to FZZ-999 AAA·000 1951-2004 AAA-000 to ZLF-999 ISA-000 to ISZ-999 reserved for interstate vehicles
Northern Territory XAA-000 to XZZ-999 100·000 1953-2011 1 to 999-999
Queensland NAA-000 to QZZ-999 NAA·999 1955-1977 NAA-000 to PZZ-999 Started from N then P and issued O last. Q series reserved for Trailer and QGx Government. Qld changed to 000-NAA from July 1977.
South Australia RAA-000 to TZZ-999 RAA•000 1967-2008 RAA-000 to XSZ-999
Tasmania WAA-000 to WZZ-999 WAA•000 1954-1970 WAA-000 to WZZ-999 From 1970 AA•0000 replaced the previous series.
Victoria GAA-000 to MZZ-999 GAA·000 1953-2013 AAA-000 to ZZZ-999 IAA-000 to IZZ-999 was issued last before 1977 changeover to AAA-000. Skipped over to NAA-000 when FZZ-999 reached. M series reserved for government.
Western Australia UAA-000 to VZZ-999 XAA·000 1956-1979 UAA-000 to UZZ-999 then XAA-000 to XZZ-999 Did not take up V series. 6AA-000 replaced from 1979 onwards until 9MZ-999 in 1998

General Notes: Western Australia deemed itself too large to fit into the proposed scheme and adhered to one of its own devising; plates in the Iaa-nnn series were to be skipped (as a capital I was believed to be easily mistaken for a number 1). This allowed the two populous states with greater registrations of vehicles 6 letter-series each (New South Wales had A to F, Victoria had G to H, and J to M), and others with 3 letter-series (Queensland N, and P to Q, South Australia R to T, Western Australia was allocated U to V). Tasmania was only given one, W, due to its size, and the Australian Capital Territory Y. Z was for federal government department use Australia-wide, the 2nd letter reflecting the commonwealth department, Northern Territory had all numeric supposed to be X, . Letters I and O were deemed to be too similar to 1 and 0 and weren't part of the scheme.

However, the system to be introduced in 1951/52 was not as popular as expected: the Northern Territory refused and continued its previous all-number system. Western Australia soon adopted the scheme, taking charge of the previously NT allocated XAA-000 to XZZ-999 (WAG-000 to WAG-999 they reserved for WA Government vehicles, then extending to XZZ-999). However many WA rural shires chose to issue their own series plates, with initial letters being Shire abbreviations followed by digits, in the WA colour scheme.

All the remaining states and territories stuck to their initial allocations, until the number of registrations became too large for each state and "overflowed" into series otherwise allocated to another state. NSW overflowed from FZZ-999 to GAA-000 (otherwise issued to Victoria) in 1972, Victoria (having reserved the Maa-nnn series for state government registrations) overflowed from LZZ-999 to IAA-000 (previously skipped) in 1974, and then from IZZ-999 to AAA-000 (otherwise issued to NSW) in 1977. South Australia did similar, overflowing from SZZ-999 to UAA-000 etc. (having reserved the Taa-nnn series for trailer registrations).

All states and territories now have adopted their own new series replacing the ABC-123 series and they do not need to be allocated to the grouped allocations like it happened in the 1950's as the alpha/numerics can start from the beginning to the end of series.

Federal Interstate Registration Scheme

 
Federal Interstate

Run years: 1 January 1987 to 1 July 2018

Heavy vehicles (over 4.5 tonnes GVM) can choose to participate in FIRS scheme.

FIRS plates are WX·00AA, and are green on a reflective yellow background.

FIRS plates are issued by state authorities on behalf of the Commonwealth, and carry the format as specified by the Interstate Road Transport Regulations 1986 – Reg 21.[2] Federal Interstate-registered vehicles are prohibited from undertaking intrastate journeys and can only be used for cross-border work.

The first character represents the state of issue:

  • A for Australian Capital Territory
  • C for Northern Territory
  • N for New South Wales
  • Q for Queensland
  • S for South Australia
  • T for Tasmania
  • V for Victoria
  • W for Western Australia

The second character represents the type of vehicle being registered:

  • V for vehicle (typically issued to prime-movers, but are also attached to rigid vehicles such as coaches and moving trucks).
  • T for trailer.
  • X for extra weight, for vehicles with particular high gross vehicle or aggregate trailer masses.

The remaining characters are allocated by the issuing authorities. As most interstate transport companies are based on the East Coast, the majority of FIRS plates are registered in NSW and VIC. Some issues originate in QLD or SA, with the remaining states appearing relatively rarely.

A typical plate which might be found on a semi-trailer, registered to a company in QLD would be QT·88MW.

[3] ALL FIRS scheme plates ceased accepting renewals on 1 July 2018 and FIRS closed on 1 July 2019, after all FIRS registration expired and plates exchanged to the new National Heavy Vehicle scheme/state based registration plates.

More details are found under the Infrastructure[4] website of the Federal Government's

National Heavy Vehicle Registration Scheme

 
National Heavy Vehicle

Starting 1 July 2018, a new system was implemented in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania. Victoria joined the scheme on 1 October 2018.

Northern Territory has just started using National Heavy Vehicle Plates and abolished the rego stickers effective 1 August 2019 [5]

Western Australia is not participating, hence WA Heavy Vehicles are on state based plates.

The format now in use are:

FB-12AA in Black on white reflection base, and blue band legend with the words NATIONAL HEAVY VEHICLE imprinted on it.

XQ-12AA is for Trucks while YQ-12AA is for Trailers. In this example the prefix denotes X for Trucks and Y for Trailers and the last prefix letter is for home states/territory: XQ - Queensland, XN- New South Wales etc.

It replaced the state based general series, however not mandatory and owners can request state based personalised plates if they wish to have them. It applies to new heavy vehicles or heavy vehicle requiring replacement of state based general series plates. 4.5 GVM minimum must qualify for the new plates.

Common features

LPG
CNG
Metal diamond with a white lettering on a retro-reflective red background or metal disc
 
Green hybrid diamond sticker on a Victorian registered car

Plates tend to bear the State or Territory name and perhaps a state motto or slogan at the top and/or bottom of the plate. Recent issues of plates (since the 1980s) also often use the state's colours and may include some imagery related to the state (such as the state's logo as the sequence separator).

Vehicles running on autogas or compressed natural gas must have a metal diamond with a white lettering LPG on a retro-reflective red background or metal disc with white lettering CNG on red background. The tag must be mechanically fixed (and is usually riveted) onto both of the registration plates. If multiple gas tanks are fitted to vehicle, multiple tags are required – one tag for each tank installed. Subsequently, vehicle manufacturers who manufacture cars with LPG as standard fitting, provide LPG stickers already stuck to the vehicle's registration plate areas, and some state and territory registration authorities also are producing plastic "flat" printed registration plates, and therefore need to provide LPG stickers to avoid damage to the plates if drilled for pop rivets.

All hybrid electric vehicles must have a green diamond sticker with the word "Hybrid" written in white letters. This became a mandatory requirement on all hybrid vehicles registered in Victoria from 1 April 2009,[6] and is designed to warn emergency services in the case of an accident that the vehicle contains high voltage cabling throughout the vehicle.

Commonwealth and military

Army
Defence Force

Military plates were nnn-nnn with the first digit corresponding to the military district number:

  • 1 – Queensland
  • 2 – New South Wales
  • 3 – Victoria
  • 4 – South Australia
  • 5 – Western Australia
  • 6 – Tasmania
  • 7 - Northern Territory*

However, new plates issued to the Army are now in this format: nn-nnnn, where the first two digits represent the year the vehicle was registered. r.g. 05-1832.

Current Australian Army registration plate format is Annnnn with this newer format beginning in 2003. The A represents "Army" with the next two digits representing the year the vehicle was first registered. For instance, a 2008 model Toyota Coaster used to transport army cadets might have the plate A08227. This format has also been adopted by the Defence Force, Navy, and Air Force with combinations Dnnnnn, Nnnnnn and Rnnnnn respectively.

The official car of Chief of the Defence Force carries plates ADF1 and official cars for the three service chiefs carry plates ARMY1, NAVY1 or RAAF1.

 
Chief of Army plate
 
Commonwealth of Australia

The Commonwealth Government of Australia used the Z prefix for its government owned vehicles up until 2000 when the Commonwealth Vehicle Registry was closed.

These plates were on a black on white background, usually marked with "C of A" at the top of the plate – an abbreviation of Commonwealth of Australia and the leading Z being red to further distinguish it from other state plates.

Issuance of Z prefixed plates used for same purposes was passed onto the states after 2000. Australian Capital Territory plates started at ZYA-000, Victoria plates started at ZED-000, Queensland plates started at ZQ-0000, New South Wales plates started at ZZZ-000, South Australia plates started at ZSA-000, Western Australia plates started at ZAA-00F and Tasmania plates started at ZTA-000. Only New South Wales and Victoria chose to use their state base colours rather than the standard black on reflective white, with the use of red embossed Z prefix.

St Edward's Crown plate (Governor General)
Prime Ministerial C*1 plate

Each of the states display their state initials as seen above the numbers instead of the old "C of A" legend.

The Northern Territory still uses the older format and same "C of A" legend at top of the plate.

The registration plate of the Prime Ministerial Limousine was C*1 (i.e. Commonwealth No. 1) with a seven-pointed Commonwealth Star. This has been updated in November 2015 showing C (Australian Government crest image) 1.[7] Other Commonwealth fleet cars for official transport carry "C of A" plates in the form C-nnn.

The Governor-General's official cars do not carry registration plates, but simply depict a representation of the St Edward's Crown. They tend to also have a flag mounted on the official car. Similar plates are used for vehicles carrying Queen Elizabeth II when visiting Australia.

 
A motorcade transporting senior members of the official party to an event in Canberra in November 2009. The black car, at left, with the numberplate ADF1, carried the Chief of the Defence Force; the white car behind it, with the numberplate C1, carried the Prime Minister; and the black car, second from the right, carried the Governor-General.

Cars owned by the government have special numberplates, some also have a crown and symbols.

For official visits to Australia, special plates are often put over the top of normal 'Z' plates, depicting the Australian Coat of Arms and, in red 'Visit to Australia' with a numeral. These are not strictly registration plates, but are useful for police and other officials to identify cars in official motorcades.

Diplomatic

 
Diplomatic plate

Diplomatic plates are issued to foreign diplomats by the Government of the Australian Capital Territory. They would formerly grant diplomatic immunity to the vehicle and driver from all traffic laws, speed limits, parking infringements and tolls in all reasonable course of duty by a diplomatic officer, in compliance with international treaty, but this is no longer the case. They follow the format of 'DC nnnn', 'DCnnnnn', 'DX nnnn' or 'DXnnnnn', where the first two or three numbers are the code for the home country of the diplomat, and have black text on a powder blue background. DC plates are issued to members of the diplomatic corps, whereas DX plates are issued to persons who are attached to diplomatic missions but are not themselves diplomats, e.g. household staff.

Older issues have no territory identifier, however newer plates have 'ACT' embossed at the top centre of the plate. Newer plates are also written as 'DC' and 'DX', rather than 'D.C.' and 'D.X.' to allow for the inclusion of a greater number of characters in the sequence. A substantial number of older-style plates are still in use, however.

The first two or three numbers appearing in the plate correspond to a specific country, for example 69 is issued to the United Kingdom. The following two digits are typically issued with lower numbers to higher-ranking officials, usually 01 being issued to the ambassador from that country. So DC 6901 would be found on the vehicle of the British High Commissioner to Australia.

The number issued to each country has no particular relevance, and was allocated by ballot. Countries with many vehicles (such as the USA) are allocated two numbers. Before the blue D.C. plates were introduced, diplomatic cars in Canberra carried plates which had white letters on red.

The numbers then correlated to the length of time the particular diplomatic mission had been in Canberra and the British High Commissioner's car proudly carried the plate D.C.1 The replacement arrangement is more egalitarian.

State registration authorities issue CC plates to consular representatives in their relevant state capital.

The ACT Government issues similar plates to representatives of international organisations in the Territory. These plates are also coloured black on powder blue, and follow a format of IO nnnn.

Registration labels abolition

All states have abolished registration labels for light and heavy vehicles:

  • Western Australia – 1 January 2010 beginning with light vehicles and Northern Territory is the last to be abolished from 1 August 2019 for Heavy Vehicles.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "Primary producer vehicles". VicRoads. 5 August 2014.
  2. ^ "INTERSTATE ROAD TRANSPORT REGULATIONS 1986 – REG 21 Registration plate". Austlii.edu.au. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  3. ^ Roads and Maritime Services, N. S. W. "Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS)". Roads and Maritime Services.
  4. ^ Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities. "Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) Closure". Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities.
  5. ^ https://www.bigrigs.com.au/news/nt-adopts-rego-changes-for-heavy-vehicles/3796145/
  6. ^ "Hybrid vehicle registration discount". VicRoads. 17 June 2014.
  7. ^ Peatling, Stephanie (11 November 2015). "Politics Live: November 11, 2015". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 February 2016.

References

  • Blue Mountains Family History Society (2007) Australian number plates Springwood, NSW: Blue Mountains Family History Society. ISBN 978-0-9756788-4-8
  • Nance, Tony (1980) Australian number plates Beaumaris, Vic. ISBN 0-9594474-0-7
  • Wright, D.C. (1983) Australasian (motor vehicle) registration plates, 1901–1982 Montmorency, Vic. ISBN 0-9594980-0-1

External links