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The country in which a motor vehicle's vehicle registration plate was issued may be indicated by an international licence plate country code, formerly known as an International Registration Letter or International Circulation Mark. It is referred to as the Distinguishing sign of the State of registration in the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic of 1949 and the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of 1968.
The allocation of codes is maintained by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe as the Distinguishing Signs Used on Vehicles in International Traffic (sometimes abbreviated to DSIT), authorised by the UN's Geneva Convention on Road Traffic and the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. Many vehicle codes created since the adoption of ISO 3166 coincide with ISO two- or three-letter codes. The 2004 South-East Asian Agreement ... for the Facilitation of Cross-Border Transport of Goods and People uses a mixture of ISO and DSIT codes: Myanmar uses MYA, China CHN, and Cambodia KH (ISO codes), Thailand uses T (DSIT code), Laos LAO, and Vietnam VN (coincident ISO and DSIT codes).
The Geneva Convention on Road Traffic entered into force on 26 March 1952. One of the main benefits of the convention for motorists is the obligation on signatory countries to recognize the legality of vehicles from other signatory countries. When driving in other signatory countries, the distinguishing sign of the country of registration must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle. This sign must be placed separately from the registration plate and may not be incorporated into the vehicle registration plate.
1909 Paris Convention
The display of a national distinctive mark on a white oval plate, 30 cm × 18cm with black letters was first introduced by the 1909 International Convention with respect to the Circulation of Motor Vehicles signed in Paris. The plate was required to be affixed to the rear of the vehicle, separate from the number plate displaying the vehicle's national registration mark. The 1909 convention only allowed distinctive marks to be of one or two Latin letters.
|United States of America||US|
|Great Britain and Ireland||GB|
1924 Paris Convention
The term distinguishing mark was adopted by the 1924 International Convention Relative to Motor Traffic signed in Paris, which extended the maximum length of mark from two to three Latin letters, and permitted not just distinguishing marks for states, but also for non-sovereign territories which operated their own vehicle registration systems.
- Originally in 1909 convention
Since the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic entered into force on 21 May 1977, in signatory countries it replaces previous road traffic conventions, including the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, in accordance with its Article 48. According to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, the distinguishing sign of the country of registration must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle. The sign may either be placed separately from the registration plate as a white oval plate or sticker, or be incorporated in the vehicle registration plate. When the distinguishing sign is incorporated in the registration plate, it must also appear on the front registration plate of the vehicle.
The requirement to display a separate distinguishing sign is not necessary within the European Economic Area, for vehicles with license plates in the common EU format, which satisfy the requirements of the Vienna Convention, and so are also valid in non-EU countries signatory to that convention. Separate signs are also not needed for Canada, Mexico and the United States, where the province, state or district of registration is usually embossed or surface-printed on the vehicle registration plate.
|AM||Armenia||1992||SU||Formerly part of the Soviet Union|
|AZ||Azerbaijan||1993||SU||Formerly part of the Soviet Union|
|BD||Bangladesh||1978||PAK||Formerly East Pakistan|
|BF||Burkina Faso||1990||RHV / HV||Until August 2003, 1984; (République de) Haute Volta (Upper Volta)|
|BH||Belize||1938||Formerly British Honduras. Still officially registered as BH as of 2007. New driving licenses appear to have 'BZ' instead of 'BH' as Belize's code.|
|BIH||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1992||Unknown||Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина (Bosnian). Formerly part of Yugoslavia.|
|BUR||Myanmar||1956||BA, BUR||Previously known as Burma.|
|BVI||British Virgin Islands||1910|
|BW||Botswana||2003||BP||Officially used by Botswana since 2003. Formerly RB (Republic of Botswana) until 2004; Bechuanaland Protectorate before 1966.|
|BY||Belarus||1992 (2004)||SU||Belarus; formerly part of the Soviet Union. The UN was officially notified of the change from SU to BY only in 2004.|
|CAM||Cameroon||1952||F & WAN||Formerly a territory of France, plus a strip of territory from eastern Nigeria (WAN). Unofficially using CMR on their plates.|
|CDN||Canada||1956||CA||CDN for "Canada Dominion"|
|CGO||Democratic Republic of the Congo||1997||CB, RCL, ZRE||French: Congo Belge, République de Congo Léopoldville, Congo (Kinshasa), Zaïre, République Démocratique du Congo (French)|
|CH||Switzerland||1911||Confœderatio Helvetica (Latin)|
|CI||Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire)||1961||F||Formerly a territory of France|
|CL||Sri Lanka||1961||Formerly Ceylon. However, "SL" is being used on current driver licenses.|
|CZ||Czech Republic||1993||CS||Formerly Československo (Czechoslovakia)|
|D||Germany||1910||Deutschland (German); also used until 1974 by East Germany, which then used DDR until German reunification in 1990|
|DY||Benin||1910||Part of AOF
française) − 1960
|Dahomey (name until 1975). Uses RB unofficially (République du Bénin)|
|DZ||Algeria||1962||F − 1911||Djazayer (Algerian Arabic: جزائر); formerly part of France|
|EAK||Kenya||1938||East Africa Kenya|
|EAT||Tanzania||1938||EAT & EAZ||East Africa Tanzania; formerly East Africa Tanganyika and East Africa Zanzibar|
|EAU||Uganda||1938||East Africa Uganda|
|EAZ||Zanzibar||1964||East Africa Zanzibar|
|ER||Eritrea||1993||AOI||Africa Orientale Italiana (Italian)|
|EST||Estonia||1993||EW 1919–1940 & 1991–1993
|Eesti Vabariik (Estonian; old style Eesti Wabariik)|
|ETH||Ethiopia||1964||AOI − 1941||Africa Orientale Italiana (Italian)|
|FIN||Finland||1993||SF||Suomi / Finland (Finnish/Swedish)|
|FL||Liechtenstein||1923||Fürstentum Liechtenstein (German, Principality of Liechtenstein)|
|G||Gabon||1974||ALEF − 1960||Afrique Équatoriale Française. Unofficially using RG on their license plates.|
|GBA||Alderney||1924||GB 1923-1924||(United Kingdom of) Great Britain & Northern Ireland – Alderney|
|GBG||Guernsey||1924||GB 1914-1924||(United Kingdom of) Great Britain & Northern Ireland – Guernsey|
|GBJ||Jersey||1924||GB 1914-1924||(United Kingdom of) Great Britain & Northern Ireland – Jersey|
|GBM||Isle of Man||1932||(United Kingdom of) Great Britain & Northern Ireland – Isle of Man|
|GBZ||Gibraltar||1924||GB 1911-1924||(United Kingdom of) Great Britain & Northern Ireland – Gibraltar (Z was assigned because G was already used for Guernsey)|
|GCA||Guatemala||1956||G||Guatemala, Central America|
|GE||Georgia||1992||SU||Formerly part of the Soviet Union. Older licence plates use "GEO" instead of "GE". Also used by Equatorial-Guinea (Spanish: Guinea Ecuatorial).|
|GH||Ghana||1959||WAC − 1957||West Africa Gold Coast − 1957|
|GUY||Guyana||1972||BRG||Formerly British Guiana − 1966|
|HKJ||Jordan||1966||JOR||Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan|
|HN||Honduras||?||Unofficial: no other code found for Honduras|
|Hrvatska (Croatian). Formerly part of Yugoslavia. Immediately after Croatia's declaration of independence in 1991, it was common to see unofficial oval stickers with the letters "CRO". Despite the initial anticipation that Croatia's international vehicle registration code would be "CRO", Croatia opted for "HR" (Hrvatska) instead.|
SHS was for the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca).
|IL||Israel||1952||"Israel" is also written on the plate in Hebrew (ישראל) and Arabic (إسرائيل)|
|IRL||Ireland||1992||GB − 1910-24
SE − 1924-38
EIR − 1938-62
EIR/IRL − 1962-92
|Formerly a part of the United Kingdom, Saorstát Éireann, Éire.|
|K||Cambodia||1956||Known as Kampuchea 1976–89. Formerly a territory of France. KH currently being used (Khmer) on driving licenses.|
|KG||Kyrgyzstan||1992||SU − 1991||Formerly part of the Soviet Union. The Kyrgyz government notified the change from "KS" to "KG", which featured on the new car registration plates from March 2016, in August that year to the UN Secretary-General. Additionally, most vehicles use "KGZ" oval stickers instead of "KS".|
|KSA||Saudi Arabia||1973||SA||Kingdom of Saudi Arabia|
|KZ||Kazakhstan||1992||SU − 1991||Formerly part of the Soviet Union|
|LAO||Laos||1959||F – 1949||Formerly a territory of France (French Indochina)|
|LAR||Libya||1972||I − 1949, LT||Libyan Arab Republic|
|LS||Lesotho||1967||BL||Basutoland − 1966|
|Latvijas Republika (Latvian)|
|MAL||Malaysia||1967||PRK – 1957
|Formerly Perak, then Federated Malay States, then Persekutuan Tanah Melayu (Malay)|
|MD||Moldova||1992||SU − 1991||Formerly part of the Soviet Union|
|Independent nation until 1918. After that, part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca – Serbo-Croatian), then part of Yugoslavia and then Serbia and Montenegro (Srbija i Crna Gora – Serbian). Independence restored in 2006.|
|MGL||Mongolia||2002||MNG displayed on current plates. Nevertheless, the new format includes MGL once again.|
|Formerly part of Portugal. Moçambique (Portuguese)|
NP – 1938–70
RNY option 1960–65
|Formerly the Nyasaland Protectorate|
|NAM||Namibia||1990||SWA||Formerly South West Africa|
|NMK||North Macedonia||2019||YU − 1992
|Formerly part of Yugoslavia. Known as Republic of Macedonia until 2019. Mix of English North and Macedonian Makedonija|
|P||Portugal||1910||Unofficially used by Palestine as well|
|PNG||Papua New Guinea||1978|
|RA||Argentina||1927||República Argentina (Spanish)|
|RC||Republic of China (Taiwan)||1932||Unofficially also used by car license plates in the Republic of Congo (République du Congo).|
|RCA||Central African Republic||1962||République Centrafricaine (French)|
|RCB||Republic of the Congo||1962||République du Congo Brazzaville (French). Unofficially using RC on current plates.|
|RCH||Chile||1930||República de Chile (Spanish)|
|RG||Guinea||1972||République de Guinée (French). Also used unofficially by Gabon.|
|RH||Haiti||1952||République d'Haïti (French)|
|RI||Indonesia||1955||Republik Indonesia (Indonesian)|
|RIM||Mauritania||1964||République islamique de Mauritanie (French)|
|Republic of Kosovo|
|RL||Lebanon||1952||République Libanaise (French)|
|RM||Madagascar||1962||République de Madagascar (French)|
|RMM||Mali||1962||AOF − 1960||République du Mali (French). Formerly part of French West Africa (Afrique Occidentale Française)|
|RN||Niger||1977||AOF − 1960||République du Niger (French). Formerly part of French West Africa (Afrique Occidentale Française)|
|RO||Romania||1981||R - 1981|
|ROK||South Korea||1971||Republic of Korea. Unofficially using KOR on their plates.|
|RP||Philippines||1975||Republika ng Pilipinas (Republic of the Philippines)|
|RSM||San Marino||1932||Repubblica di San Marino (Italian)|
|RU||Burundi||1962?||Belgian territory of Ruanda-Urundi. Unofficially using BU on their plates.|
|RUS||Russia||1992||Formerly part of the Soviet Union|
|RWA||Rwanda||1964||RU − 1962||Formerly part of Ruanda-Urundi − 1962|
|Formerly Československo (Czechoslovakia)|
|Formerly part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca (Serbo-Croatian), then part of Yugoslavia|
|SO||Somalia||1974||SP||Formerly Somaliland Protectorate|
|SRB||Serbia||2006||SB – 1919
|Formerly part of the Kingdom of Serbia.|
Then part of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca – Serbo-Croatian).
Then part of Yugoslavia.
Then Serbia and Montenegro (Srbija i Crna Gora – Serbian)
|TG||Togo||1973||RT||Formerly République Togolaise|
|TJ||Tajikistan||1992||SU − 1991||Formerly part of the Soviet Union, used code "PT" for Республика Таджикистан
on plates from 1993 to 2003
|TM||Turkmenistan||1992||SU − 1991||Formerly part of the Soviet Union|
|TN||Tunisia||1957||F − 1956||Formerly a territory of France|
|TT||Trinidad and Tobago||1964|
|UA||Ukraine||1992||SU||Formerly part of the Soviet Union|
|UAE||United Arab Emirates||1971|
|UK||United Kingdom||2021||GB (1910–2021)||Before 1922, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Until 2021, "GB" was used, but from 28 September 2021 the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland changed its international vehicle registration code from "GB" to "UK". (This does not affect territories for which the United Kingdom controls international relations outside Great Britain and Northern Ireland.)|
|UZ||Uzbekistan||1992||SU||Formerly part of the Soviet Union|
|V||Vatican City||1931||CV (Italian: Città del Vaticano) is used as a prefix on the licence plate number itself. The prefix used on official and government vehicles is SCV (Italian: Status Civitatis Vaticanae)|
|WAG||Gambia||1932||West Africa Gambia|
|WAL||Sierra Leone||1937||West Africa Sierra Leone; on local licence plates SLE is used|
|WAN||Nigeria||1937||West Africa Nigeria|
|WD||Dominica||1954||Windward Islands Dominica|
|WG||Grenada||1932||Windward Islands Grenada|
|WL||Saint Lucia||1932||Windward Islands Saint Lucia|
|WS||Samoa||1962||Formerly Western Samoa|
|WV||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||1932||Windward Islands Saint Vincent|
|YAR||Yemen||1960||North Yemen formerly known as the Yemen Arab Republic|
|Z||Zambia||1964||RNR||Formerly Northern Rhodesia. However, "ZM" is used on current driving licences.|
|ZA||South Africa||1936||Zuid-Afrika (from Dutch; in Afrikaans it is Suid-Afrika)|
|ZW||Zimbabwe||1980||SR, RSR||Formerly Southern Rhodesia until 1965, Rhodesia unrecognised until 1980|
Codes no longer in use
|Code||Country||Used until||Replaced by||Notes|
|ADN||Aden||1980||Y||From 1938, also known as South Yemen, People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (1967)|
|BP||Bechuanaland Protectorate||1966||Now Botswana|
|CS||Czechoslovakia||1992||CZ / SK||Split into Czech Republic and Slovakia.|
|DA||Danzig, Free City of||1939||D (1939–1945)
PL (since 1945)
|Danzig (German for Gdańsk)|
|DDR||German Democratic Republic||1990||D||From 1974 (used D until 1974), Deutsche Demokratische Republik|
|EW||Estonia||1993||EST||Eesti Vabariik (Estonian)|
|FR||Faroe Islands||1996||FO||Føroyar (Faroese)|
|GB||United Kingdom||2021||UK||Changed to UK to be inclusive of Northern Ireland (which is not part of Great Britain), though the previous GB did also apply to Northern Ireland|
|GBY||Malta||1966||M||Changed after independence from UK|
|GRO||Greenland||1910||KN||Grønland (Danish language) / Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenlandic language). Unofficial. The official code is DK.|
|HV||Upper Volta (French: Haute-Volta), now Burkina Faso||1984||BF||Upper Volta|
|KS||Kyrgyzstan||1992–2016||KG||Ratified by the United Nations as KG in March 2016.|
|LR||Latvia||1927–1940||SU, LV||Latvijas Republika (Latvian)|
|MK||Republic of Macedonia||1992–2019||NMK||Became North Macedonia in 2019|
|NA||Netherlands Antilles||1957||The Netherlands Antilles were dissolved in 2010.|
|PANG||Angola||1956||P (1957-1975)||From 1932. Formerly part of Portugal|
|RB||Botswana||2003||BP||Republic of Botswana. Formerly Bechuanaland Protectorate|
|RNY||Rhodesia-Nyasaland Fed.||1953–1963||NP, NR, SR||Now Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe|
|ROU||Uruguay||1979–2012||UY||República Oriental del Uruguay (Spanish)|
|RSR||Southern Rhodesia||1965–1979||SR||Now Zimbabwe|
|RT||Togo||1973||TG||République togolaise (French). Formerly French Togoland − 1960|
|SA||Saar Territory (League of Nations mandate)||1926–1935||D||SA is again Germany's Saarland|
|SA||Saar Protectorate||1947–1956||D||SA is again Germany's Saarland|
|SA||Saudi Arabia||Unknown||KSA||The date of the change is unknown.|
|SB||Serbia||1919||SHS||Serbia became part of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes|
|SCG||Serbia and Montenegro||2006||MNE, SRB||From Serbian name "Srbija i Crna Gora". Now Montenegro, Serbia|
|SE||Saorstát Éireann||1938||EIR (IRL from 1962)||Under GB until 1924. Name changed to Éire, now Ireland|
|SF||Finland||1993||FIN||SF from "Suomi – Finland" (the names of the country in its official languages, Finnish and Swedish)|
|SHS||Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes||1929||Y||Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca – Serbo-Croatian. Kingdom changed its name to Yugoslavia|
|SU||Soviet Union||1991||EST, LT, LV, BY, MD, UA, TJ, TM, GE, KZ, UZ, KS, AZ, AM, RUS|
|SWA||South West Africa||1990||Now Namibia|
|TS||Free Territory of Trieste||1947–1954||Territory Zone A (controlled by the United Kingdom and United States from 1947 to 1954 before given to Italy). Now in Italy, Croatia and Slovenia.|
|Y||Yugoslavia||1953||YU||Yemen started using Y afterwards|
|YU||/ Yugoslavia||1992||BIH, HR, NMK, MNE, RKS, SRB, SLO||Now Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, and Slovenia. MK for Macedonia was in use from 1993 until 2019|
|ZRE||Zaire||1997||CGO||Now the Democratic Republic of the Congo|
There are unofficial codes in common use, such as "AS", "A" or "AST" for Asturias, "CAT" for Catalonia, "SCO" for Scotland, "CYM" for Wales, "BZH" for Brittany, "VL" for Flanders, "V" for Vojvodina/Vajdaság, "TS" for Transylvania, "PR" for Puerto Rico, "CSB" for Kashubia and "SIC" for Székely Land (from Latin Terra Siculorum). Some of these, such as "VL" which is used by Flemish separatists, are used despite being specifically illegal under local laws.
In addition, in some areas, vehicle-style stickers have been used to denote and promote other entities, such as towns, islands, businesses, and even associations. These irregular stickers almost always bear an explanation of the code in small print near the edge of the sticker, as the codes used may be unfamiliar.
The political status of Kosovo is disputed. Having unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, Kosovo is formally recognised as an independent state by 101 UN member states (with another 13 states recognising it at some point but then withdrawing their recognition) and 92 states not recognizing it, while Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own territory.
Diplomatic licence plate codes
A separate system is used for vehicles belonging to the diplomats of foreign countries with license plate from the host country. That system is host country-specific and varies largely from country to country. For example, TR on a diplomatic car in the USA indicates Italian, not Turkish. Such markings in other countries (e.g. Norway) are indicated with numbers only, again different from international standards (e.g. 90 means Slovakia in Norway).
- Aircraft registration
- International Driving Permit
- ISO 3166
- Vienna Convention on Road Traffic
- Vehicle identification number
- Georgano, G. N.; Andersen, Thorkil Ry (1982). The New encyclopedia of motorcars, 1885 to the present. p. 18. ISBN 0525932542.
- Harding, Anthony; Bird, Anthony (1980). Guinness Book of Car Facts and Feats: A Record of Everyday Motoring and Automotive Achievements. p. 243. ISBN 0851122078.
- "Distinguishing Signs used on Vehicles in International Traffic" (PDF). United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.
- "Convention of Road Traffic signed at Geneva September, 19 1949 - Annex 4. Distinguishing Sign of Vehicles in International Traffic". Auto Driver Club. NYS ZONE INC. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- "Convention on Road Traffic on 8 November 1968 - Index Page". Auto Driver Club. NYS ZONE INC. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- "Annex 2: Registration of Vehicles in International Traffic" (PDF). Agreement between and among the Governments of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the People's Republic of China, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, the Union of Myanmar, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for the Facilitation of Cross-Border Transport of Goods and People. 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2012.
- "1909 Paris Convention for the International Circulation of Motor Vehicles" (PDF).
- "International Convention Relative to Motor Traffic, Paris, 1924".
- "Council Regulation (EC) No 2411/98". Council of the European Union. 3 November 1998.
- "Driver's license will have a new look". Love FM. 2019-07-22. Retrieved 2021-12-20.
- "Convention sur la circulation routière, signée à Vienne, le 8 novembre 1968 - Notification en vertu du paragraphe 4 de l'article 45 par le Kirghizistan. - Legilux". legilux.public.lu. Retrieved 2021-10-28.
- "Discussions of Mongolian license plates / Дискуссии по монгольским номерам".
- "License Plates of Palestine".
- "Car: International car registration letters Word Lists | Collins English Word Lists".
- Griffiths, Hugo (5 July 2021). "GB stickers no longer valid for driving abroad". autoexpress.co.uk. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
- "Convention on Road Traffic Vienna, 8 November 1968: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: Notification under Article 45 (4)" (PDF).
- "RPW": Neil Parker and John Weeks, Registration Plates of the World, Europlate; 4th edition (2004)
- Distinguishing Signs of Vehicles, UNECE
- Distinguishing Signs used on Vehicles in International Traffic Notified to the Secretary General of the United Nations, UNECE
- Convention on Road Traffic, Geneva, United Nations Treaty Collection
- Convention on Road Traffic, Vienna, United Nations Treaty Collection
- UN Economic Commission for Europe, Working Party on Road Transport (WP.11)
- Miscellaneous Proposals of Amendments to the Model Regulations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods: Identification of Approval Country in Marking, UN/SCETDG/33/INF.5 (table compares ISO 3166 and DSIT codes)
- Association Francoplaque: Collectionneurs de Plaques d'Immatriculation (data mostly from RPW, above)
- European Registration Plate Association: Registration Plates of the World Online (registration required; data mostly from RPW, above)