Vehicle registration plates of Belgium
The rear license plate is state supplied, while the front license plate is owner supplied. This has its influence on the look of the front license plate which can be identical to the rear one or similar to European license plates with a blue EU flag in it. This explains why you often see scratched, dirty, or old number plates on new cars in Belgium. The rear license plate is usually mounted to another plate which contains the "B" letter and usually an advertisement for the car dealer.
- 1 Types
- 2 History
- 3 Recent developments
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Number plates normally accompany owners rather than cars: therefore that when an owner replaces his car he will take his old number plate to his new car, while the new owner of the old car will need to fix on it his own existing number plate, if he has one available, or otherwise apply for a new number. For this reason, although it is quite simple to determine when a given number combination was issued, the number used will give no reliable information about the original registration year of the car to which it is fixed.
The number plate has a white background with red numbers and letters. Standard Belgium plates issued before November 2010 measured 325mm by 105mm - smaller than most other European countries, although non-standard (for Belgium) sizes were frequently used for the front plate - in part due to influence from rest of Europe and in part due to plates carrying additional information such as the Euro flag. In November 2010 Belgium introduced the standard European format as one of the last EU member states to do so. This delay was caused in part by opposition to abandoning the distinctive colour scheme (red characters on white background) in favour of the European standard, which dictates black characters on either a white or a yellow background. In the end it was decided to preserve the red-on-white colour although a darker shade of red (ruby red - RAL 3003) is used.
The combination on the plate does not give any information about the geographical location.
Sometimes the first letter (or first and second letter) has a special meaning:
- CD: Diplomats (CD stands for 'Corps Diplomatique')
- M or W: Motorcycles
- O: Can be used on vintage vehicles which are more than 25 years old ("Oldtimers") and with some restrictions (cannot be driven at night or at more than 25 km from the home of the owner, except to go to vehicle meetings)
- TX: Taxi
- U or Q: Trailer Plates
- Z: Dealer Plate
- ZZ: Test Drive Vehicle
For the remaining letters, all letters of the alphabet are used. Initially the letters I,M,Q and W were never used as the 2nd or 3rd letter, but they were added later to extend the number of available combinations. The letter "O" was not used as the 2nd/3rd letter on the six-character plates; on the seven-character plates it is used however.
The initial letters (CD) are printed in green, followed by a dot "." and 4 symbols (5 symbols in 2010) printed in red. By chronological order of registration, these symbols can be:
- 4 digits
- 1 letter + 3 digits
- 3 digits + 1 letter (observed in 2008)
- 2 letter + 3 digits (2010)
Members of the Royal Family
The license plate consists of numbers only, following the standard colouring scheme. Cars used by the king and queen only have one number (1 to 9). Cars used by other members of the royal family have two numbers.
The license plate consists of 1 letter followed by 1 to 3 numbers. Roughly speaking, the initial letter is either "A" for Ministers (excluding regional executives) and Ministers of State (an honorific title for distinguished politicians), or "P" for members of Parliament (including regional parliaments), or "E" for members and services of the regional governments. The president of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives has the licence plate "A1" (1st citizen of the Kingdom), the president of the Belgian Senate has the licence plate "A2", the prime minister has the license plate "A3" and so on.
White plate with black numbers and a Belgian flag on the left.
The NATO Headquarters formerly used a red plate with the white letters SB (later M) followed by a number.
License plates for trailers and caravans
These plates are delivered especially for trailers and caravans +500 kilogrammes.
A first model of trailer license plate consists of a combination of 3 letters starting with "U" and 3 digits, all red, on white reflecting background with red frame (so the only difference with ordinary plates is the first letter U). (Dimensions: 340 mm x 110 mm). Plates of this model are no longer delivered, but are still valid.
As from 2002 the new European model was introduced. It is a number plate consisting of a combination of 3 letters and 3 digits of black colour on white reflecting background with black frame. This plate always starts with the letter "Q". On the left of the plate a blue banner of 44 mm width has been added with on top a circle with 12 yellow stars and below a white character " B". These will replace gradually the old model. Dimensions: 521 mm x 110 mm
These plates are never delivered to regular vehicles.
Plates for personnel of international bodies
Plates given out to persons working for the international bodies in Belgium, including EU staff. "International" plates can be time-limited (according to the work contract) or have unlimited validity. If applicable, the time limitation is displayed inside the European circle of stars.
The plates have blue characters on a white background. The combination consists of 6 digits without letters. Until now the first digit is always "9". These plates have also been discontinued. Nato, EU, foreign institutions, now all carry the standard red format, with the 8-aaa-### format
Staff of the institutions of the European Union located in Belgium could previously request a specialized number plate. These plates were blue and displayed the letters "EUR" in a circle of yellow stars on the left hand side. These plates were increasingly less favoured than the "international" plates as the owner ran the risk of vandalism (because many Belgians erroneously believed that the car owner was not subject to the Belgian car tax). These plates have now been replaced by the new format of a leading digit followed by three letters and three digits, with the leading digit "8" as identifier (8-AAA-111).
Employees of the Eurocontrol Organisation could previously get a blue number plate consisting of three numbers followed by the word "EURO". Like all blue plates, this has also now been discontinued and replaced by the 8-AAA-111 series of plates.
Dealer plates are special plates available only to motor vehicle manufacturers and dealers. They can only be used on vehicles owned by the manufacturer/dealer and must be renewed every year. A dealer plate has green letters and numbers on a white background ("green plate"). Furthermore it has the European flag on the left side. Standard dealer plates have Z as initial letter and A to Y as second letter. Plates starting with "ZZ" are reserved for test drives.
Until 1996 dealer plates were inexpensive and dealers tended to stock significant numbers of them, which they then rented out to owners of very expensive cars (dealer plates were exempt from an extra tax on luxury cars). To combat this fraud the law was changed, making a "green plate" much more expensive; also, police control was increased. As a result, dealers now keep fewer plates and abuse has diminished.
It is possible to obtain a personalized plate. Pre-2010 personalized plates can have a six-character combination (AAA-111 or 111-AAA) or any of the five-character combinations of the 1951-1973 issue. The combination can be chosen by the owner of the plate with following restrictions:
- The first letter must not conflict with standard rules, e.g. a combination starting with M-O-Q-U-W-Z is not allowed for a normal vehicle plate
- Acronyms of Belgian political parties are not allowed
With the European format, personalized plates used to begin with 9, e.g. "9-ABC-123". The possible combinations following the leading "9" were the same as before, i.e. five or six characters. Nowadays, this isn't necessary anymore. Almost any combination is allowed for a personalized plate, although they have to have at least one letter. Some combinations which have other uses, are forbidden as well. For example plates with only numbers, for example: "1".
These plates had white font with the red background. They are just numbers only. In 2010, they have 7 numbers instead of six. Year band on the left side (right on 2010) indicate an expiration date.
From 1899 until 1925, 1928 until 1951 registration plates had 6 numbers, however their use now expired. They had colors changed to present color, see bottom.
From 1925 until 1928 is very similar to 1951-1961 style, except the style is fixed (always "A-1234")
From 1951 until 1973 registration plates had 5 characters: one letter and four numbers or two letters and three numbers or one letter, three numbers and one letter: "A-1111", "AA-111" and "A-111-A". Because plates are linked to drivers rather than to vehicles, many of these older plates are still in use.
Plates issued between 1973 and 2008 used a combination of three letters followed by three numbers: "AAA-111". In June 2008 a new pattern was introduced with the numbers in front: "111-AAA". By this time the 1973 series had almost run out of combinations. Until the first quarter of 2009 the last plates of the old series (starting with Y, the Z series being reserved for dealer use) were issued simultaneously with the new layout, with the latter reserved at first for registrations made through Internet.
The European license plates, introduced on November 15, 2010, have seven characters: a leading digit followed by three letters and three digits (1-AAA-111). The distribution of the 111-AAA series stopped at that moment, so that even though plates were printed in this series up to number 999-CFQ, the last ones have never been distributed. This and all older series remain valid and no date is set for their expiration.
Plates for motorcycles with a capacity of more than 50 cc issued before November 2010 have black letters on a yellow background and begin with the letters "M" or "W". These plates have a square design, with the three letters on the first row and the three numbers on the second. The newer European plates are red on white like standard vehicle plates and begin with 1-MAA-001. Motorcycles with a capacity less than 50 cc have no license plate.
Plates no longer in use
- 1899-1911: First plates used black letters on white plate.
- 1911-1919: White numbers on black plate. Like currently, only rear plate was provided by the state.
- 1919-1925: White numbers on blue plate.
- 1925-1928: White characters: one letter followed by numbers.
- 1928-1951: Red numbers on white plate.
Plates still in use, red on white
- 1951-1961: 1 letter, 4 digits (possible layouts: A.1234, 1.A.234, 12.A.34, 123.A.4, 1234.A)
- 1962-1971: 2 letters, 3 digits (possible layouts: AB.123, 1.AB.23, 12.AB.3, 123.AB)
- 1971-1973: 1 letter, 3 digits, 1 letter (A.123.B)
- 1973-2008: 3 letters, 3 digits (ABC.123)
- 2008 (June 25)-2010 (November 15): 3 digits, 3 letters (123.ABC)
- from 2010 (November 15): 1 digit, 3 letters, 3 digits (1-ABC-123)
Belgium was supposed to start issuing the European registration plates in July 2010. However, with the unexpected collapse of the federal government, the introduction of the new scheme was postponed to November 15, 2010. The last plate from the old series, 999-CFQ, was pressed by State Secretary for Mobility Etienne Schouppe.
The plate meets the European standard format: on the left a blue stripe showing the letter B and a circle of stars.
- Media related to License plates of Belgium at Wikimedia Commons
- A private collection of Belgian plates of different periods and types