Vehicle registration plates of Italy
Present Italian car number plates have black characters on a rectangular white background, with small blue side-fields on the right and left (see European vehicle registration plates). The current numbering scheme, in use from 1994, is unrelated to the geographical provenance of the car. Italian plates are printed by the state.
- 1 History
- 2 Special plates
- 2.1 Motorbike plates
- 2.2 Moped plates
- 2.3 Trailer plates
- 2.4 Police plates
- 2.5 Diplomatic plates
- 2.6 Military plates
- 2.7 Dealer plates
- 2.8 Red Cross plates
- 2.9 Firefighters
- 2.10 Port Authority plates
- 2.11 Temporary plates
- 2.12 Agricultural plates
- 2.13 State Forestry Corps plates
- 2.14 Road Machinery plates
- 2.15 Civil Defense plates
- 2.16 Carabinieri plates
- 3 Province Codes
- 4 References
- 5 External links
The very first Italian number plates gave the unabbreviated name of the place of origin, followed by a number, as GENOVA 83.
Plate was white. The registration number was a numeric code (in red), different for each province, and a progressive number, unique for that province (in black). E.g. 63 – 2993, where 63 is the code for Turin.
Plate was black with white digits. Rear plate was 27.5 × 20 cm (since 1951), front plate was 26.2 × 5.7 cm. Note that single line rear registration plates (similar to the ones used by other European countries) will not be available until 1976. The registration number was the provincial designator, which is a two-letter code (exception: Rome's code is Roma), and a progressive code, unique for that province, up to 6 characters long.
From 1927 to 1932, the progressive code was before the provincial designator. Then, the progressive code was before the provincial designator in front plates and after it in rear plates.
The progressive code for the first 999999 cars of the provinces was just a progressive number, not filled with initial zeroes; in the rear plate the last four digits are in the second row and the first ones (when present) in the first row. For cars from 1000000, it was A00000-A99999, B00000-B99999 etc. Possible letters were, in this order, A B D E F G H K L M N P R S T U V Z X Y W. After that, it was 00000A-99999A, 00000D-99999D etc. Possible letters were, in this order, A D E F G H L M N P R S T V W X Y Z; then, the letter was moved to the second position, and then to third (same range as in second position).
Front plate was identical as in the period 1927-1976. Rear plate, instead, came in three pieces. One, size 10,7 × 33 cm, black with white digits, contains the progressive code and, very small, the provincial designator. The other two were black with orange letters, and contained the provincial designator. One was 10,7 × 33 cm, the other one was 10,7 × 20 cm. Only one of the latter two was used: for a long plate, the small province code piece is put left of the progressive code, for a roughly square plate, the big province code piece is put above the progressive code.
Plates become white with black digits. Rear plate was identical as in the period 1976-1985. Front plate becomes larger (32.5 × 10.7 cm) and the progressive code on it is moved after the provincial designator, as it was already for rear plates.
An entirely new numeration system was introduced which omitted any explicit reference to the place of origin. A simple alpha-numeric serial code takes the form AA 999 AA. Here ‘A’ can be any letter of the Latin alphabet except I, O, Q, U and is treated as a base-22 digit; ‘9’ can be any decimal digit. e.g. AK 514 RH, AX 848 LK, BA 924 NS, etc. The three-digit number changes first, then the letters from right to left. So, first plate is AA 000 AA, followed by AA 001 AA...AA 999 AA, then AA 000 AB to AA 999 AZ, then AA 000 BA to AA 999 ZZ, then AB 000 AA to AZ 999 ZZ, then BA 000 AA to ZZ 999 ZZ.
Rear plates are no more in two pieces. Instead, a square plate can be chosen instead of the ordinary long one. If the rear plate is square, the numbering scheme starts from ZA 000 AA.
In 1999, the plates were redesigned, starting from the serial number BB 000 HH. The digits are thicker. The last decimal digit is now very close to the third letter. The standard European blue band has been added on the left side, with the European flag motif (12 yellow stars) and the country code I. Another blue band was added, on the right side, bearing a yellow circle with the year of registration.
The two-letter provincial code is optionally present on the right band in capital letters (90% of circulating vehicles bear such code). For the capital city of Rome, the word Roma replaces the two-digit provincial code. Provincial codes are in capital letters except for three cases, where the second letter is expressed in small caps for the provincial codes of the autonomous province of Bolzano/Bozen (Bz), for the autonomous province of Trento (Tn) and for the autonomous region Aosta Valley (Ao), that are surmounted by the local coat of arms.
The reintroduction of the provincial code (although no longer as a compulsory element of the plate) was implemented because the 1994 suppression of the two-letter provincial codes proved extremely unpopular. Unlike before, the provincial code is not part of the registration number, which is the same for the whole nation.
Motorbikes have plates formed by two letters and five digits, starting from AA 00000. For these vehicles the provinces' codes are not used to avoid confusion (for example, the plate after AF 99999 is AH 00000, because AG means Agrigento). Plates size is 177x177 mm (6,96x6,96 inches).
Registration plates of small mopeds where introduced in 1994 (before that date italian moped had no plate at all) they were trapeze-shaped and have a registration system based on a five letter-and-digit combination (treated as a 31-base numeric system), with the first two placed on top and the following three below (such as 47 A23 or K3 561 or 8X 4RF whereby whole sets of series are assigned locally). In 2006 new moped plates are introduced; new plates have a square shape measuring 12 by 14 cm. The registration shows six characters: the first is always "X" ("Y" for Local Police plates), the other five follows the same scheme of the old system; but the digit 1 and 0 and the letters A, E, I, O, Q and U are not used. Since 2012 old moped plates are no longer valid and have to be sostitued by new ones.
Car's and truck's trailers had two plates: the trailer's own one was quite small and bore the word "RIMORCHIO" (trailer) and a two letters-five digits code, the other had the same size of vehicles' rear plates and bore the same registation of the prime mover written with black sticks on a retroflective yellow base. From February 2013 new trailer plates have been introduced: they use the same pattern of standard vehicle plates, the numeric scheme is XL 000 LL where "L" is a generic letter, "0" is a digit and "X" is the reserved letter. Mover repetition plates are no longer needed on trailers registered with new plates; but they are still compulsory for old trailers with small plates and small unregistered "appendix trailers".
Local police forces had the word "POLIZIA LOCALE" (local police) in blue. They have same pattern as trailer and civilian plates, the scheme is YL 000 LL where "L" is a letter, "0" is a digit and the "Y" is the reserved letter. Unlike civilian plates they don't show up the code. Normal police plates had "POLIZIA" in red and they have numbers instead. Customs police had starts with prefix "GdiF" in red. The serial letters and three serial numbers are in black. 
Diplomatic plates had blue letters. The consular plates had "CC" and four numbers, while "CD" had three. Scheme is CC 0000 AA or CD 000 AA. The "AA" is a country code while "0" is a digit. Front and rear plates are identical and both measures 34 by 11 cm.
Military plates had prefixes EI for Army and MM for Navy (they are all red), the trailers had "RIMORCHIO" in it. There is a code same as mentioned before, but it is small and it is black. The scheme is EI LL 000. While "EI" is a prefix, while "LL" is a letter and "0" is a digit. Between the letter and number is a green dot. In 1980 Army plates adopted the 11 by 34cm size for both front and rear plates, but more recent plates same to use the 1994-99 civil plate standard for rear plates.
Italian dealer plates have a square (16.5 by 16.5cm) size and follows the format XXpX/XXXX (where "X" could be a letter or a digit) arranged in two lines. They are the only kind of italian plates whose code could be chosen by the owner.
Red Cross plates
Had the prefix "CRI" in red, the style is CRI 000LL,while "L" is a letter while "0" is a number. Between "CRI" and "L" is a Red Cross sign. They use the same style of pre-1999 plates; the final code of two-line plates always starts with the letter "Z".
Had the prefix "VF" in red. They have the same style and dimension of Port Authority plates, but they doesn't have text in the bottom. Firefighters of autonomous region uses special Firefighters plates issued locally.
Port Authority plates
Had the prefix "CP" in red. They have text "GUARDIA COSTIERA" in bottom. Those plates are considerably shorter than a standard one (circa 35 versus 52mm), front and rear plates have the same size and square rear plates are not available.
They have the same style of Diplomatic plates, but they starts with "EE" instead fo "CD". The upper part of the plate have a small place to accommodate expiration sticks.
Agricultural machines have motorcycle-sized plates following the AA-0/00A scheme written in black on yellow. Agricultural trailers have the text "RIM AGR." in red on the upper part. The style is same as the old trailer plates but background is yellow and the serial is AA-000A. Agricultural trailers have to show both their own plates and a prime mover repetition one.
State Forestry Corps plates
These plates had the prefix "CF" in red. The format is CF L00 AA, "CF" is a prefix, then "L" is a letter, two numbers and then "AA" suffix which is unknown, for example "CA", in red. Forestry Corps of autonomous region uses special dedicated plates, showing the province (or region) of registration.
Road Machinery plates
The style of these plates is LL LL000. These plates are colored red in yellow.
Civil Defense plates
These plates only exist in autonomous regions, they have the prefix "PC" in red and an alfanumeric serial chosen by local authorities. Cars of national Civil Defense department have special plates bearing the "DPC" code followed by an alfanumeric serial, while operative vehicles usually use civil plates.
These plates had the prefix "CC" in red. The style is CC LL 000 while "CC" is a prefix, while "LL" is a letter while "0" is a digit.
Province Codes 1927 to present day
These abbreviations for the names of provinces are extensively used in contexts other than vehicle registration. For example, "Trino (VC)", to indicate a place called Trino in the province of Vercelli, could appear on letterheaded paper or in a postal address or in a guide book and very often on business cards and trade signs. The abbreviations even count as valid words in crosswords and in Scarabeo, the Italian version of the board game Scrabble. Sometimes, the code RM is used instead of Roma for the province of Rome, in postal addresses or documents.
Sardinia formed four new provinces in its territory in 2001, but this act was recognized by national authorities only in 2008; these provinces gained the right to put their codes on cars, which are VS for the Province of Medio Campidano (from its capital cities Villacidro and Sanluri), CI for the Province of Carbonia-Iglesias, OG for the Province of Ogliastra and OT for the Province of Olbia-Tempio.
Province Codes 1905 to 1927
|25||Florence (Firenze)||26||Foggia||27||Forlì||28||Genoa (Genova)|
|33||Lucca||34||Macerata||35||Mantua (Mantova)||36||Massa and Carrara|
|37||Messina||38||Milan (Milano)||39||Modena||40||Naples (Napoli)|
|53||Reggio di Calabria||54||Reggio nell'Emilia||55||Rome (Roma)||56||Rovigo|
Province Codes which have been abandoned (post-1927)
|AU||Apuania||Province renamed back to Massa-Carrara.||1939-1949|
|CG||Castrogiovanni||City renamed to Enna.||1927-1928|
|CU||Cuneo||Code changed to CN.||1927-1928|
|FU||Fiume||Code changed to FM.||1927-1930|
|FM||Fiume||City no longer in Italy.||1930-1945|
|FO||Forlì||Province renamed to Forlì-Cesena (FC).||1927-1994|
|GI||Girgenti||City renamed to Agrigento.||1927-1928|
|LB||Lubiana||City no longer in Italy.||1941-1945|
|PL||Pola||City no longer in Italy.||1927-1945|
|PU||Perugia||Code changed to PG.||1927-1933|
|PS||Pesaro||Province renamed to Pesaro and Urbino.||1927-1994|
|ZA||Zara||City no longer in Italy.||1927-1945|
- The use of alphabetical codes for number plates started in Italy on 28 February 1927, as prescribed by the Communication n. 3361 from Minister of Public Works (from R.D.I. n.314 13.3.1927 and the law n.2730 29.12.1927) which inaugurated a new highway code.
- Italy's page on Worldlicenseplates.com
- "Codice della strada - Le Nuove Sigle Provinciali Sarde" (in Italian). Quattroruote. 26 May 2008.
- Plates in Rome provides detailed coverage of Italian number plates from 1903 onwards.
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