Vehicle registration plates of Singapore

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A red Nissan Sylphy G11 with an ordinary white-on-black vehicle registration plate, and a silver Kia Picanto with a white-on-red off-peak registration plate in a car park in Singapore

Vehicle registration plates in Singapore are administered by the Land Transport Authority.

Current scheme[edit]

Black on white (front) and black on yellow (rear) number plate scheme
A white on black number plate scheme

In general, every motor vehicle in Singapore has a vehicle registration number. Two colour schemes are in use: the black-on-white (front of the vehicle) and black-on-yellow (rear) scheme, or the more popular white-on-black scheme. The number plate has to be made of a reflective plastic or metallic with textured characters which are black (for white-yellow), or white or silver (for black ones). No standardised typeface is used, though all typefaces are based on the Charles Wright number plate typeface used in the UK. Thinner-looking variants are commonly used by SBS Transit buses, taxis and goods vehicles. Rarely, the FE-Schrift font used in Germany can be seen – though the use of this font is prohibited by the Land Transport Authority (LTA).[1]

A typical vehicle registration number comes in the format "SBA 1234 A":

  • S – Vehicle class ("S", with some exceptions, stands for a private vehicle since 1984)
  • BA – Alphabetical series ("I" and "O" are not used to avoid confusion with "1" and "0")
  • 1234 – Numerical series
  • A – Checksum letter ("F", "I", "N", "O", "Q", "V" and "W" are never used as checksum letters; absent on special government vehicle plates and events vehicle plates)

Types of numbers[edit]

A black on white (front) number plate
A black on yellow (rear) number plate
A white on black number plate (still valid)
A black on yellow (rear) number plate for motorcycles

Private car licence plate numbers began in the early 1900s when Singapore was one of the four Straits Settlements, with a single prefix 'S', then adding a suffix letter S 'A' to S 'Y', but skipping a few like S 'H' and S 'Z' (reserved for taxis and buses), S 'D' (reserved for municipal vehicles), and S 'G' for goods vehicles large and small. No changes were made when Singapore became independent in 1965. There was no checksum letter, for example, SS1234, similar to vehicle registration plates of Malaysia. When the checksum letter was implemented, these plate numbers were given checksum letters as well, for example SS1234 became SS1234K.

When 'S' was exhausted at SY, in January 1972, private cars started with E, motorbikes with A and goods vehicles under 3 tonnes with Y. E was followed by EA, EB with the letters EC in 1973 up to EZ. From 1984, the "S" series of number plates was launched again, but now with two serial suffix letters, starting from SBA.

Other classes of vehicles have registration numbers beginning with specific letters:

  • A_ series: Motorcycles (used until 1980, reason for change to F is overlapped to Malaysian state of Perak number plates)
  • CB series: Company or school buses
  • F_ series: Motorcycles (e.g., FA–FZ); used till late 2005
  • FB_ series: Motorcycles (e.g., FBA, FBB, and so on); started at the end of December 2005
  • G _ _ series: Light Goods vehicles (class 3) (e.g., GA–GZ)
  • GB _ series: Light Goods vehicles (class 3) (e.g., GBA, GBB, GBC, and so on); introduced from the year 2010
  • P series: Private buses (PA, PB, PC, PH, PZ were used to separate private buses, private hire vehicles, and so on, but later on all private hire vehicles were issued with PA plates)
  • Q _ _ series: Company vehicles (no longer issued – company cars are now issued with "S" series number plates like private cars, reason for no longer issued because overlapped to QX, QY plates and Malaysian state of Sarawak number plates)
  • SH_ series: Taxis or street hire vehicles
  • W_ series: Engineering plant vehicles (Class 5)
  • X_ series: Very heavy goods vehicles (Class 5/prime movers) not constructed to carry any load
  • TR_ series: Trailers
  • Y_ series: Heavy goods vehicles (class 3/4/5)

In addition, the following are controlled for specific types of vehicles, including:

A private bus with a Pulau Ubin vehicle registration plate

Special prefixes were used for specific events, such as:

They are never used after the events.

Civil Mobilisation Exercise or Vehicle Recalls have a large A3/A2 sticker stuck at the rear and front of the vehicle denoted that the vehicle is being mobilised or deployed for civil emergency exercises. These usually happen during weekends.

Checksum[edit]

The checksum letter is calculated by converting the letters into numbers, i.e., where A=1 and Z=26, potentially giving seven individual numbers from each registration plate. However, only two letters of the prefix are used in the checksum. For a three-letter prefix, only the last two letters are used; for a two-letter prefix, both letters are used; for a single letter prefix, the single letter corresponds to the second position, with the first position as 0. For numerals less than four digits, additional zeroes are added in front as placeholders, for example "1" is "0001". SBA 1234 would therefore give 2, 1, 1, 2, 3 and 4 (note that "S" is discarded); E 1 would give 0, 5, 0, 0, 0 and 1. Each individual number is then multiplied by 6 fixed numbers (9, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2). These are added up, then divided by 19. The remainder corresponds to one of the 19 letters used (A, Z, Y, X, U, T, S, R, P, M, L, K, J, H, G, E, D, C, B), with "A" corresponding to a remainder of 0, "Z" corresponding to 1, "Y" corresponding to 2 and so on. In the case of SBA 1234, the final letter should be a G; for E 1, the final letter should be an X.

Checksum suffix letters are not applied to special government vehicles and event vehicles.

Middle letter exceptions[edit]

When the SDZ series was exhausted in 2003, the SE series was skipped and the next plates issued was the SF series. LTA announced that it had adopted the policy of not issuing series with vowels in the middle of the three-letter prefixes. This was done to avoid forming objectionable word combinations such as "SEX".[2] An SA sequence was also never issued (the S-sequence in 1984 started with SBA), because the West Coast Division of Sabah state in Malaysia has been using the SA sequence.

Personalised registrations[edit]

The Land Transport Authority announced in late 2007 that it might begin implementing the use of personal registration licence plates (vanity plates). These licence plates may take up to 12 characters compared to the current eight.[3] To date, such a scheme has not been introduced. For now, there is a thriving trade in the sale of number plates that have significant digits (i.e., lucky numbers) or letter combinations like SGD.

Other colour schemes[edit]

Off-peak vehicles[edit]

An offpeak white on red number plate
An offpeak white on red number plate

Vehicles registered as "Off-peak Vehicles", colloquially known as "weekend cars", pay a cheaper road tax compared to ordinary private cars, although the usual Certificate of Entitlement (COE) charges apply. Off-peak vehicles display number plates with white characters on a red background. These vehicles are only allowed to run on the roads in Singapore after office hours (7:00 pm – 7:00 am) on weekdays, and the whole day on Saturday (Revised OPC scheme allows on whole Saturday, non-revised old OPC scheme vehicles must adhered to the old scheme restriction which is 7:00 am - 3:00 pm on Saturday), Sunday and public holidays. The restriction are not applied if the vehicle entered and use in Malaysia on office hour weekdays (7:00 am - 7:00 pm).

If owners of off-peak vehicles wish to drive on weekdays during office hours, they are required to buy an e-licence for $20 either online or through major post offices. Car owners have up to 24 hours on the following day to purchase the e-licence. First-time offenders may be fined up to $5,000 for failing to display a valid day coupon or using an invalid day coupon, and up to $10,000 for using an altered day coupon when their vehicles are used during the restricted hours.

Off-peak vehicles pay a relatively lower road tax (a discount of up to $500) as compared to other private vehicles, and are also given rebate of $17,000 which can be offset against the COE and ARF.

Even so, the majority of the people in Singapore do not use off-peak vehicles.

Commercial vehicles[edit]

Light Goods Vehicles and Goods Passenger Vehicles use the G series prefix, which began with G; continued with GA through GZ; and then GBA, GBB, and so on.

Other categories[edit]

A Restricted Use vehicle
A hazardous cargo vehicle (implemented in 2005)

A "Restricted Use" vehicle displays a registration plate with white letters on a diagonally bisected background, the upper half of which is red and the lower half emerald green. The two lead characters of the plate are "RU".

A "Classic Car" collector's vehicle has an ordinary registration number but with white lettering on a half-red, half-yellow background, with a seal affixed on the number plate by an authorised inspection centre.

"Hazardous Cargo" plates were introduced in 2005, using normal commercial vehicle registrations, often in the 'Y' code, but with, unusually, black figures on a reflective orange background. These trucks are permitted to carry fuel, gas canisters and chemicals (flammables), and are neither permitted to enter tunnels nor city areas unless route arrangements have been made in advance with the fire services. Malaysian lorries are also required to have a separate HAZMAT orange licence plate affixed to both the trailer and wagon (tow head). Such vehicles are subject to the same rules as Singapore-registered hazardous cargo vehicles.

"Research and Development" vehicles display a half-yellow, half-blue plate with the prefix "RD".

Motor dealers and traders use white on blue plates using the suffix "S", preceded by up to four numerals for their test drive vehicles.

Driving instructors teaching students in Singapore must display an "L" ("learner") plate beside their vehicle registration plates on both the front and back of the vehicle.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "This Continental touch can land you in trouble", The Straits Times, 22 February 2008 .
  2. ^ "No SEX please on licence plates", The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 October 2002 .
  3. ^ "Name your own plates soon for Singapore cars", The Straits Times, 26 March 2007 .

External links[edit]