Vehicle registration plates of the German Democratic Republic

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East German vehicle registration plates were issued in the former German Democratic Republic between 1953 and 1990. Vehicles whose cylinder capacity was less than 50 cm3 were exempt from registration.

The plates remained legal until the end of 1993, when all vehicles had to be re-registered to the West German system.

Design[edit]

Trabant 601 registered in East Berlin

The plates' appearance remained largely constant during the 37 years in which they were issued. Black alphanumerics rendered in a condensed version of DIN 1451 were used (although other fonts have also been observed),[1] with the first letter indicating the bezirk (the German word for 'district') where the vehicle was registered. Between 1953 and 1974, the format of these plates was XX ##-##, where X is any letter in the range A-Z, and # is a digit between 0 and 9 – although a numerical prefix and/or suffix of '00' was disallowed.

In response to the dramatic increase in the number of vehicles on East German roads, the design was revised in October 1974 to include an additional serial letter, albeit at the cost of the initial digit. The new format became: XXX #-##. Under this system, '0' was a permitted prefix digit, but the combination '0-00' was disallowed.

List of district identifiers[edit]

The prefixes were allocated alphabetically to each region, from North to South. The letters G, J, Q, and W were not used.

Prefix Bezirk
A Rostock
B Schwerin
C Neubrandenburg
D, P Potsdam
E Frankfurt
F, L Erfurt
H, M Magdeburg
I East Berlin
K, V Halle
N Gera
O Suhl
R, Y Dresden
S, U Leipzig
T, X Karl-Marx-Stadt
Z Cottbus

The prefixes HJ, KZ, SA, and SS were not issued, due to their Nazi connotations.

Special Plates[edit]

GST[edit]

GST plate issued in Karl-Marx-Stadt

Vehicles belonging to the Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik (en: Sport and Technology Association), or GST for short, were allocated plates with only a single prefix letter denoting the district of registration.

Military[edit]

Vehicles belonging to the Nationale Volksarmee (en: National People's Army) were issued plates bearing the VA (Volksarmee) prefix, whilst those of the Grenztruppen (en: Border Troops), and Grenzschutz (as of 1990) received the GT and GS prefixes, respectively.

Volkspolizei[edit]

Militia plate issued in Potsdam

Vehicles of the People's Police (East German militia) were furnished with plates bearing the VP prefix. Although they were identical in appearance and format to other East German plates, Volkspolizei plates followed a different system.

The first two digits after the VP prefix identified the district (or bezirk) where the vehicle was stationed. Incidentally, these (and diplomatic registrations) were the only plates where it was legal to use '00' as prefix digits.

The table below illustrates the numerical codes used:[2]

Code Bezirk
00 East Berlin
01 Rostock
02 Schwerin
03 Neubrandenburg
04 Potsdam
05 Frankfurt
06 Cottbus
07 Magdeburg
08 Halle
09 Erfurt
10 Gera
11 Suhl
12 Dresden
13 Leipzig
14 Karl-Marx-Stadt

Diplomatic & Foreign National[edit]

Mercedes-Benz bearing plates for the West German diplomatic mission crosses Checkpoint Charlie.

Vehicles belonging to diplomats and embassy staff were issued plates which featured white alphanumerics on a reddish-brown background, whilst those of foreign nationals were the more familiar white-on-blue. In both cases, the two-letter prefix identified the vehicle's function, whilst the first two digits indicated the country it belonged to. Diplomatic plates always began with the letter C, whilst those assigned to foreigners were prefixed with Q.

The following table lists these prefixes:

Prefix Allocation
CC Consular staff
CD Diplomatic missions and their personnel
CY Technical and administrative staff
QA Foreign correspondents
QB, QX Foreign trade offices, commercial offices, and industrial agencies
QC Travel agencies, airlines, culture and information centres
QD Others

List of numerical embassy codes:[3]

Code Country/Organisation
00 Comecon
01 USSR
02 Czechoslovakia
03 Hungary
04 Poland
05 Romania
06 Bulgaria
07 People's Republic of China
08 Albania
09 Finland
10 Mongolia
11 North Korea
12 North Vietnam
13 Egypt
14 Yugoslavia
15 Cuba
16 South Vietnam
17 Syria
18 North Yemen
19 Mali
20 Guinea
21 Iraq
22 Cambodia
23 Sudan
24 South Yemen
25 India
26 The Congo
30 Algeria
31 Bangladesh
32 Burma
33 Switzerland
34 Italy
35 Denmark
36 Tunisia
37 Belgium
38 Sweden
39 France
40 Pakistan
41 Great Britain
42 Peru
43 Austria
44 Spain
45 Netherlands
46 Norway
47 Mexico
48 Indonesia
49 Lebanon
50 Iran
51 Japan
52 Argentina
53 Zaïre
54 Brazil
55 Uruguay
56 Colombia
57 West Germany
58 Ghana
59 Portugal
60 Ecuador
61 United States
62 Turkey
63 Greece
64 Venezuela
65 Australia
66 Panama
67 Somalia
68 Libya
69 Ethiopia
70 PLO
71 Afghanistan
72 Nicaragua
73 Cape Verde
74 The Philippines
75 Nigeria
76 Costa Rica
77 Guinea-Bissau
78 Laos
79 Zimbabwe
80 Mozambique
81 Angola
82 Bolivia
83 Morocco
91 France (trade delegations)
92 Austria (trade delegations)
93-96 Other accredited diplomatic missions in the GDR
99 Allocated to non-accredited diplomatic missions in the GDR

References[edit]