Vehicle registration plates of Bulgaria

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A contemporary Bulgarian vehicle registration plate for privately owned vehicles

The standard Bulgarian license plate consists of a white surface, using black font, containing a one- or two-letter province code, four numerals, and a final two-letter code, called the "series". They thus take the form X(X) NNNN YY, where X is the province code, and Y is the series. Since 1992, only letters that are common to both the Cyrillic and the Latin alphabets are used on Bulgarian plates.[1]

On the left hand side of the plate is the blue vertical "European strip", which contains the flag of Europe (or, for older-registered cars, that of Bulgaria), below which is the country code for Bulgaria – BG.

Format[edit]

Letters

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 "A" is the only vowel. The three that are not used in the series, (all vowels) are –

  • "E" – reserved exclusively for trailers and caravans – e.g. СА 1234 ЕЕ
  • "О" and "У"
Numbers

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 3,500 (BGN7,000), so these are rare.

Other

Not counting the "E" 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 ("C") in late 2005, and was replaced with "CA" in early 2006.

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

Format history[edit]

  • Until 1969: Black letters on a white background, in the format – X(x) NN-NN.

A pre-1969 registration plate from Sofia

  • After 1969: State vehicles retained the black on white format, while private vehicles were given black plates with white lettering. The format was X(x)-Y-NNNN.[2]

Bulgaria-automobile-license-plate before 1986.jpg After1969BgStatePlate.gif

In 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.
  • After 1986: 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.

Sofia BULGARIA 1992 series - Flickr - woody1778a.jpg Bulgarian license plate between 1986 and 1992.gif

"E" was designated as the series letter for trailers, and "Ч" for private freight and private mass transport vehicles (Ч – частен, private)

After 1992:

  • 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, Ukraine, 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 2000-2008: The left-hand blue band Bulgaria flag was phased in, eventually becoming a legal requirement on 1 Jul 2006.

BG license plate-touchup.jpg

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.
  • After October 2008: On the 1st Jan 2007 Bulgaria (BG) and Romania (RO) joined the European Union, and the standardised Europlate was introduced soon after.

Bulgaria-automobile-license-plate for eu.png

In use are also three other types of plates:
  • "NNN T NNN" — plate for the transit of an unregistered vehicle through Bulgaria (T – транзит, transit)
  • "NNN H NNN" — plate for a new vehicle, not yet registered (Н – ново, new)
  • "NNN B NNN" — temporary plate for car dealers (B – временен, temporary)

Bulgarian export license plate.gif

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.
  • Since 2006, all military vehicles' plates are subject to change with the new ones: the letters "BA" (for Bulgarian Army) and 6 digits — the form is "BA NNN NNN".

Bulgarian license plate of the armed forces.gif

The same form is adopted for the new license plates of the Civil Protection Service of Bulgaria, beginning with "CP" (for Civil Protection) followed by 5 digits — "CP NN NNN". On the left side of both kinds of plates there is a blue EU-standard vertical strip.

Bulgarian license plate of the civil protection.gif

License plate codes[edit]

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"
  • Most other major cities took on the remaining single-letter codes that were hitherto 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 province code Province Old province 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 (PAzardjik)
РВ Plovdiv Province Пд, П Пловдив [9]
РК Pernik Province Пк, ПК Перник (PerniK)
РР Razgrad Province РЗ РазгРад
СН Sliven Province Сл, СЛ СливеН
СМ Smolyan Province См, СМ СМолян
С
СА (since 2006)
Sofia-Capital Сф, С, А София [10]
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)
У Yambol Province Яб, Я Ямбол (Yambol) [1]
Х Haskovo Province Хс, Х Хасково

Army and Civil Protection plates[edit]

Additionally, there is a special code for Bulgarian Army and Civil Protection vehicles:

Current code Entity Old code
BA Bulgarian Army vehicles В – red on a white plate
CP – blue on a white plate Civil protection vehicles ГЗ

Diplomatic plates[edit]

Diplomatic and consular car number plates are similar to ordinary ones, but are recognizably different in their color: white symbols on a red background without the blue "Europlate" elements. 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 upper right corner denote the expiry year of the plate.

A diplomatic licence plate (British embassy)
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 - 79  South Africa
05  Turkey 30  Ethiopia 55 - 80   Vatican City
06 - 31  India 56  Cambodia 81  European Union
07  Greece 32  Indonesia 57  China 82  Slovenia
08  France 33  Iraq 58  China 83 Blank.png World Bank
09  France 34  Iran 59  North Korea 84  Croatia
10  Italy 35  Yemen 60  Cuba 85 Blank.png EBRD
11  Belgium 36  Colombia 61  Cuba 86  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 -
19  Argentina 44  Uruguay 69  Russia 94 -
20  Japan 45  Ireland 70  Azerbaijan 95  Sudan
21  Finland 46  Palestine 71  Bosnia and Herzegovina 96 -
22 - 47 Flag of the United Nations.svg UN 72  Hungary 97 -
23  Afghanistan 48 Flag of the United Nations.svg UN 73  Hungary 98  Georgia
24  Algeria 49 Blank.png IMF 74  Czech Republic 99  Estonia
25  Brazil 50  South Korea 75  Slovakia 00 -

Foreigner and temporary plates[edit]

A temporary licence plate of a car registered to a foreigner

Finally, cars belonging to foreigners and imported into Bulgaria for a limited period of time are blue with white characters, starting with "XX", followed by four (meaningless) digits and two small digits denoting the expiry year.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  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 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 once the "C" combinations ran out, and it is assumed that "CB" will follow once these run out.

External links[edit]