Vehicle registration plates of Bulgaria

Standard Bulgarian vehicle registration plates display black glyphs (alphanumeric characters) on a white background, together with – on the left-hand side of the plate – a blue vertical "EU strip" showing the flag of Europe (or, for older-registered cars, the flag of Bulgaria) and, below it, the country code for Bulgaria: BG.

A contemporary Bulgarian vehicle registration plate as used on a privately owned vehicle

The characters displayed in the main field of the plate are:

  • a one- or two-letter province code
  • four numerals
  • a final two-letter code, known as the "series".

The format is thus XX NNNN YY, where XX (or X) is the province code, NNNN is the serial number, and YY is the series. Since 1992, only glyphs that are common to both the Cyrillic and the Latin alphabets have been used on Bulgarian plates.[1]

FormatEdit

LettersEdit

Only 12 letters are used. In Bulgarian order, these are: А, В, Е, К, М, Н, О, Р, С, Т, У, Х. All of these are used as part of the province codes (i.e. on the left). Only nine letters are used in the series (i.e. on the right), of which "А" is the only vowel. The three that are not used in the series, (all vowels) are Е, reserved exclusively for trailers and caravans (e.g. СА 1234 ЕЕ), О and У. Since 2022, the letter E is used in the series of cars in Sofia, (e.g. CB 1234 TE).

NumbersEdit

Number plates with a single letter in the series, i.e. "X(X) NNNN Y", appear mainly on mopeds and motorcycles, but can rarely be seen on some older vehicles that have failed to undergo the obligatory re-registration. The format "X(X) AAAAAA" may be used in vanity plates, where "A" represents either letters or numbers chosen by the owner (a name for example). The price of such a custom plate is BGN 7,000 (approx. 3,500), so these are rare.

OtherEdit

Not counting the "Е" series, which is reserved for trailers, nor the vanity plates with no series letters, there is a total of 810,000 possible combinations for each province. This total ran out in Sofia ("С") in late 2005, and was replaced by "СА" in early 2006; In 2014, "CB" began to be used.

Note that the number "0" is written normally, while the letter "O" is egg-shaped.

HistoryEdit

Until 1958Edit

 
A pre-1958 registration plate from Sofia

Black letters on a white background, in the format: X(x) NN-NN.

1958–1986Edit

State vehicles retained the black on white format, while private vehicles were given black plates with white lettering. The format was X(x)- NNNN. after reaching 9999 a letter was set in front of the 4 numbers X(x)-Y-NNNN.[2] In the early 80's, after all the combinations with the letter "C" were exhausted in Sofia, a new format was introduced in the capital beginning with "A", namely AYY-NNNN. Plates with the combinations AAB-NNNN and ABC-NNNN were issued before the standard was changed once again in 1986.

1986–1992Edit

A new issue of plates is introduced with the standard format of "X(X) NNNN Y(Y)". Yellow for private plates, white for state-owned vehicles, with previous-style plates no longer valid. These new plates used ISO 7591 standard font & size and had reflective surfaces. "E" was designated as the series letter for trailers, and "Ч" for private freight and private mass transport vehicles (Ч: частен, private)

1992–presentEdit

Since 1992, the letter license plate code used letters common to both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, irrespective of whether they have the same phonetic value or not: А, В, Е, К, М, Н, О, Р, С, Т, У, Х, the same as today. A similar system is used in Greece, Russia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Ukraine. Regions are as per ISO 3166-2:BG. The new 1992 issue of plates used a white background, in the format "X(X) NNNN Y". All former yellow background plates became invalid. In 1993, The hyphens/stops between letter and number blocks were also phased out and also became invalid in 1993. During the mid-1990s, the "X NNNN Y" combinations began to run out in many provinces (as there were only 90,000 possible combinations), and so a second letter was added to the series. Between 2000 and 2008, the left-hand blue band Bulgaria flag was phased in, eventually becoming a legal requirement on 1 July 2006. These plates were all in the "X(X) NNNN YY" format, but the shape of the letters was changed to the current standard – namely, the letters were made more "square" and heavier-set than previously. These plates all began with the series "AA",[3] thereby repeating some combinations that had already existed before, albeit without the EU strip. On 1 January 2007 Bulgaria (BG) and Romania (RO) joined the European Union, and the standardised Europlate was introduced soon after.

Special typesEdit

Special vehiclesEdit

In use are also three other types of plates in format of nnn X nnn:

  • Т plate for the transit of an unregistered vehicle through Bulgaria (Т: транзит, transit)
  • Н plate for a new vehicle, not yet registered (Н: ново, new)
  • М plate for a new vehicle, started 2017 after the Н series has been exhausted
  • В plate for car dealers (В: временен, temporary)

These three types use a white background with black text and a red vertical strip on the right side. Usually, the expiry date is inscribed on the red strip.

Military and police vehiclesEdit

Since 2006, all military vehicles' plates are subject to change with the new ones: the letters "BA" (for Bulgarian Army, formerly "В" in red on a white plate) and 6 digits — the form is "BA NNN NNN". The same form is adopted for the new license plates of the Civil Protection Service of Bulgaria, beginning with "CP" (for Civil Protection, formerly "ГЗ") followed by 5 digits — "CP NN NNN". On the left side of both kinds of plates there is a blue EU-standard vertical strip.

Foreigner vehiclesEdit

 
A temporary licence plate of a car registered to a foreigner

Cars belonging to foreigners and imported into Bulgaria for a limited period of time are light blue with white characters, starting with "ХХ", followed by four (semantically meaningless) digits and two small digits denoting the expiry year. From 2019 "XH" is used after "XX".

Diplomatic platesEdit

 
A diplomatic licence plate (British embassy)

Diplomatic and consular car number plates are similar to ordinary ones, but are recognizably different in their color: white symbols on a red background. Plates starting with "C" indicate diplomatic status, "CC" indicate consular status, while "CT" is used for cars belonging to other staff of diplomatic representations. Additionally, the first two digits of the numeric group represent the country of the diplomatic or consular mission to which the vehicle belongs. Two smaller digits in the lower right corner denote the expiry year of the plate.

Provincial codesEdit

 
Map of the registration codes

After the requirement that all number plate codes had to be compatible with both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets came into force:

  • The provinces that already had compatible codes retained them: e.g. Varna "B", Ruse "P", Dobrich "TX".
  • Each main city's province has its own area code, except the capital, Sofia, which has a code for the capital area, i.e. Sofia and the directly surrounding towns and villages (C, CA, CB), and 1 for Sofia Province, i.e. the further country, towns, and villages surrounding the capital (CO)
  • Most other major cities took on the remaining single-letter codes that were unused: e.g. Burgas "A", Blagoevgrad "E" (a significant exception to this is Plovdiv's "PB")
  • The rest adopted two-letter codes that simply included random letters from their names, mostly from Cyrillic, some from Latin, and a few from a combination of the two.[4][5][6]
Current code Province Old code Bulgarian spellings, notes
А Burgas Province Бс, Б БургАс
В Varna Province Вн, В Варна
ВН Vidin Province Вд, ВД ВидиН
ВР Vratsa Province Вр, ВР ВРаца
ВТ Veliko Tarnovo Province ВТ Велико Търново
Е Blagoevgrad Province Бл, БЛ БлагоЕвград
ЕВ Gabrovo Province Гб, Г Габрово [7]
ЕН Pleven Province Пл, ПЛ ПлевЕН
К Kardzhali Province Кж, К Кърджали
КН Kyustendil Province Кн, КН КюстеНдил
М Montana Province Мх, М Монтана [8]
Н Shumen Province Ш ШумеН
ОВ Lovech Province Лч, Л ЛОВеч
Р Ruse Province Рс, Р Русе
РА Pazardzhik Province Пз, ПЗ Пазарджик (PAzardzhik)
РВ Plovdiv Province Пд, П Пловдив [9]
РК Pernik Province Пк, ПК ПеРниК (PerniK)
РР Razgrad Province РЗ РазгРад
С, СА, СB Sofia (Capital) Сф, С, А София [10]
СН Sliven Province Сл, СЛ СливеН
СМ Smolyan Province См, СМ СМолян
СО Sofia Province СФ София Област
СС Silistra Province Сс, СС СилиСтра
СТ Stara Zagora Province СтЗ, СЗ СТара Загора
Т Targovishte Province Тщ, Т Търговище
ТХ Dobrich Province Тх, ТХ Добрич (Old name Tolbuhin – ТолбуХин)[11]
У Yambol Province Яб, Я Ямбол (Yambol) [1]
Х Haskovo Province Хс, Х Хасково

Diplomatic plate codesEdit

Code Country Code Country Code Country Code Country
01   United Kingdom 26   Venezuela 51   Albania 76   Serbia
02   United States 27   Ghana 52   Vietnam 77   Malta
03   United States 28   Egypt 53   Vietnam 78   Kazakhstan
04   Germany 29   Ecuador 54 N/A 79   South Africa
05   Turkey 30   Ethiopia 55 N/A 80    Vatican City
06 N/A 31   India 56   Cambodia 81   European Union
07   Greece 32   Indonesia 57   China 82   Slovenia
08   France 33   Iraq 58   China 83 World Bank
09   France 34   Iran 59   North Korea 84   Croatia
10   Italy 35   Yemen 60   Cuba 85 EBRD
11   Belgium 36   Colombia 61   Cuba 86   North Macedonia
12   Denmark 37   Kuwait 62   Mongolia 87   Cyprus
13   Netherlands 38   Libya 63   Nicaragua 88   Norway
14   Spain 39   Lebanon 64   Poland 89   Ukraine
15   Portugal 40   Morocco 65   Poland 90   Moldova
16   Sweden 41   Mexico 66   Romania 91   Armenia
17    Switzerland 42   Peru 67   Romania 92   Belarus
18   Austria 43   Syria 68   Russia 93 N/A
19   Argentina 44   Uruguay 69   Russia 94 N/A
20   Japan 45   Ireland 70   Azerbaijan 95   Sudan
21   Finland 46   Palestine 71   Bosnia and Herzegovina 96 N/A
22 N/A 47   United Nations 72   Hungary 97 N/A
23   Afghanistan 48   United Nations 73   Hungary 98   Georgia
24   Algeria 49 IMF 74   Czech Republic 99   Estonia
25   Brazil 50   South Korea 75   Slovakia 00 N/A

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Note that the letter code for Yambol number plates is written in the style of the Cyrillic letter У, and not in the style of the Latin letter Y.
  2. ^ Only Stara Zagora had a three-letter province code: СтЗ.
  3. ^ There was an exception in some provinces, e.g. Silistra began its series with "CC", thereby the first ever plates there were "CC NNNN CC", but this was an exception rather than the norm.
  4. ^ Car number plates - a matter of police confusion, freedom and business e-vestnik.bg (in Bulgarian), 14 Jun 2011. Retrieved Dec 2012.
  5. ^ A short guide to the new vehicle registrations in Bulgaria Archived 2014-04-26 at the Wayback Machine e-psylon.net (in Bulgarian), 27 May 2004. Retrieved Dec 2012.
  6. ^ Show me your number and I'll tell you what you're like, WebCafe.bg (in Bulgarian), 10 Mar 2011. Retrieved Dec 2012.
  7. ^ The origin of the "EB" code for Gabrovo is uncertain. By following the logic of other provinces, it should be "AP" (from ГАбРово) or "AB" (from GABrovo). The most commonly-cited supposition is that it was registered by a civil servant favoring the second-largest town in the province – SevlievoСЕВлиево (although this raises the question as to why it was not "CE", from СЕвлиево). Another suggestion has been that it stands for ЕВропа (Europe), as a way for Gabrovo to endear itself to the EU, in a similar way as was done in 2012, when the newly opened extension of the Sofia Metro included a station that was controversially named European Union.
  8. ^ Although the "M" is left over from the city's previous name of Mihaylovgrad
  9. ^ The "PB" code is presumed to be a combination of Plovdiv and ПловдиВ.
  10. ^ "CA" was adopted on 2006 once the "C" combinations ran out, and since 2014 "CB" has entered use. It is assumed that "CE" will follow once these run out (since valid letters are: А, б, В, г, д, Е... in Cyrillic order, and "CC" is already used by Silistra.)
  11. ^ "TX" is still used by Dobrich Province because it was compatible - even though the city Tolbuhin was renamed Dobrich.

External linksEdit