International vehicle registration code

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Example of the white oval plate or sticker; this one represents Switzerland
Example of the yellow oval diplomatic and consular corps plate or sticker
A 1960 Borgward Isabella showing the international vehicle code NL (Netherlands)
Estonian registration plate in EU standard format with international code EST

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[1] or International Circulation Mark.[2] The sign must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle. The sign may either be placed separately from the registration plate, or be incorporated into the vehicle registration plate.

The allocation of codes is maintained by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe as the Distinguishing Signs Used on Vehicles in International Traffic[3] (sometimes abbreviated to DSIT), authorised by the UN's Geneva Convention on Road Traffic[4] of 1949 and the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic[5] of 1968. 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).[6]

The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic was concluded in Vienna on 8 November 1968. Since its entry into force on 21 May 1977, in signatory countries it replaces previous road traffic conventions, notably the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, in accordance with its Article 48. 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. 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 physical requirements for the separate sign are defined in Annex 3 of the Vienna Convention, which states that the letters shall be in black on a white background having the shape of an ellipse with the major axis horizontal. The distinguishing sign should not be affixed in such a way that it could be confused with the registration number or impair its legibility.
  • When the distinguishing sign is incorporated into the registration plate, it must also appear on the front registration plate of the vehicle, and may be supplemented with the flag or emblem of the national state, or the emblem of the regional economic integration organization to which the country belongs. The distinguishing sign should be displayed on the far left or far right of the registration plate. When a symbol, flag or emblem is also displayed, the distinguishing sign shall be placed on the far left of the plate. The distinguishing sign shall be positioned so as to be easily identifiable and so that it cannot be confused with the registration number or impair its legibility. The distinguishing sign shall therefore be at least a different colour from the registration number, or have a different background colour from that reserved for the registration number, or be clearly separated from the registration number, preferably with a line.

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 the convention. [7] 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.

Current codes[edit]

Code Country From Previous
Code
Notes
A  Austria 1910
AFG  Afghanistan 1971
AL  Albania 1934
AM  Armenia 1992 SU Formerly part of the Soviet Union
AND  Andorra 1957
AUS  Australia 1954
AZ  Azerbaijan 1993 SU Formerly part of the Soviet Union
B  Belgium 1910
BD  Bangladesh 1978 PAK Formerly East Pakistan
BDS  Barbados 1956
BF  Burkina Faso 1990 RHV / HV Until August 2003, 1984; (République (de)) Haute Volta (Upper Volta)
BG  Bulgaria 1910
BH  Belize 1938 Former British Honduras. Still officially registered as BH as of 2007.
BIH  Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992 YU Bosna i Hercegovina
BOL  Bolivia 1967
BR  Brazil 1930
BRN  Bahrain 1954
BRU  Brunei 1956
BS  Bahamas 1950
BUR  Myanmar 1956 BA Also known as Burma.
BVI  British Virgin Islands 1910
BW[8]  Botswana 2003 BP Officially used by Botswana since 2003. Formerly RB (Republic of Botswana) until 2004. Formerly Bechuanaland Protectorate
BY  Belarus 1992 (2004) SU Byelorussia; formerly part of the Soviet Union. The UN was officially notified of the change from SU to BY only in 2004.[9]
C  Cuba 1930
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
CGO  Democratic Republic of the Congo 1997 CB, RCL, CGO, ZR Congo Belge (French), République de Congo Léopoldville (French), 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
CO  Colombia 1952
CR  Costa Rica 1956
CY  Cyprus 1932
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
DK  Denmark 1914
DOM  Dominican Republic 1952
DY  Benin 1910 Part of AOF
(Afrique occidentale
française) − 1960
Dahomey (name until 1975). Uses RB unofficially (République Béninoise)
DZ  Algeria 1962 F − 1911 Djazayer (Algerian Arabic); Formerly part of France
E  Spain 1910 España (Spanish)
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
EC  Ecuador 1962
EIR  Ireland 1938 GB − 1910
SE − 1924
IRL − 1962
Éire or Ireland. Formerly a part of the United Kingdom and formerly Saorstát Éireann. Activists want the name of the country represented in the Irish language by changing the code back to EIR or ÉIR, but this is unnecessary, as Statutory Instrument No. 269 of 1961 provides: " ... the letters EIR are used to indicate the name of the State but the letters IRL may be substituted therefor."
ER  Eritrea 1993 AOI Africa Orientale Italiana (Italian)
ES  El Salvador 1978
EST  Estonia 1993 EW 1919–1940 & 1991–1993
SU 1940–1991
Eesti Vabariik (Estonian); formerly part of the Soviet Union
ET  Egypt 1927
ETH  Ethiopia 1964 Africa Orientale Italiana (Italian)
F  France 1910
FIN  Finland 1993 SF Suomi Finland (Finnish/Swedish)
FJI  Fiji 1971
FL  Liechtenstein 1923 Fürstentum Liechtenstein (German, Principality of Liechtenstein)
FO  Faroe Islands 1996 Føroyar
G  Gabon 1974 ALEF − 1960 Afrique Équatoriale Française. Unofficially using RG on their license plates.
GB  United Kingdom (of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) 1910 Before 1922, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
GBA  Alderney 1924 Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Alderney
GBG  Guernsey 1924 Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Guernsey
GBJ  Jersey 1924 Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Jersey
GBM  Isle of Man 1932 Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Isle of Man
GBZ  Gibraltar 1924 Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Gibraltar (Z was assigned because G was already used for Guernsey)
GCA  Guatemala 1956 Guatemala, Central America
GE  Georgia 1992 SU Formerly part of the Soviet Union. Older licence plates use "GEO" instead of "GE".
GH  Ghana 1959 WAC − 1957 West Africa Gold Coast − 1957
GR  Greece 1913
GUY  Guyana 1972 BRG Formerly British Guiana − 1966
H  Hungary 1910
HKJ  Jordan 1966 JOR Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
HN  Honduras ? unofficial - no other code found for Honduras
HR  Croatia 1992 SHS 1919–29
Y 1929–53
YU 1953–92
Hrvatska (Croatian). Formerly part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, an earlier name for 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).

I  Italy 1919
IL  Israel 1952 "Israel" is written on the plate also in Hebrew (ישראל) and Arabic (إسرائيل)
IND  India 1947
IR  Iran 1936
IRL  Ireland 1962 GB − 1910
SE − 1924
EIR − 1938
Formerly a part of the United Kingdom, Saorstát Éireann, Éire.
There is a campaign by Irish language activists underway to have the name of the country in the native language represented by changing the code back to EIR or ÉIR.
However Statutory Instrument No. 269 of 1961 already provides: " ... the letters EIR are used to indicate the name of the State but the letters IRL may be substituted therefor."
IRQ  Iraq 1930
IS  Iceland 1936 Ísland (Icelandic)
J  Japan 1964
JA  Jamaica 1932
K  Cambodia 1956 F − 1949 Known as Kampuchea 1976–89. Formerly a territory of France.
KS  Kyrgyzstan 1992 SU − 1991 Formerly part of the Soviet Union. However, most vehicles use "KGZ" instead of "KS".
KSA  Saudi Arabia 1973 SA Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
KWT  Kuwait 1954
KZ  Kazakhstan 1992 SU − 1991 Formerly part of the Soviet Union
L  Luxembourg 1911
LAO  Laos 1959 F – 1949 Formerly a territory of France (French Indochina)
LAR  Libya 1972 I − 1949, LT Libyan Arab Republic
LB  Liberia 1967
LS  Lesotho 1967 BL Basutoland − 1966
LT  Lithuania 1992 SU 1940–1991 Formerly part of the Soviet Union
LV  Latvia 1992 LR 1927–1940
SU 1940–1991
Latvijas Republika (Latvian); Formerly part of the Soviet Union
M  Malta 1966 GBY 1924–66
MA  Morocco 1924 Maroc (French)
MAL  Malaysia 1967 PRK – 1957
FM 1954-7
PTM 1957–67
Formerly Perak, then Federated Malay States, then Persekutuan Tanah Melayu (Malay)
MC  Monaco 1910
MD  Moldova 1992 SU − 1991 Formerly part of the Soviet Union
MEX  Mexico 1952
MK  Macedonia 1992 YU − 1992 Formerly part of Yugoslavia
MNE  Montenegro 2006 MN – 1913–1919
SHS 1919–29
Y 1929–53
YU 1953–2003
SCG 2003–2006
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.
MNG  Mongolia 2002 MGL 1997–2002
MOC  Mozambique 1975 MOC: 1932–56
P: 1957–75
Formerly part of Portugal. Moçambique (Portuguese)
MS  Mauritius 1938
MW  Malawi 1965 EA 1932–38
NP – 1938–70
RNY option 1960–65
Formerly the Nyasaland Protectorate
N  Norway 1922
NA  Netherlands Antilles 1957
NAM  Namibia 1990 SWA Formerly South West Africa
NAU  Nauru 1968
NEP    Nepal 1970
NIC  Nicaragua 1952
NL  Netherlands 1910
NZ  New Zealand 1958
P  Portugal 1910
PA  Panama 1952
PE  Peru 1937
PK  Pakistan 1947
PL  Poland 1921
PNG  Papua New Guinea 1978
PY  Paraguay 1952
Q  Qatar 1972
RA  Argentina 1927 República Argentina (Spanish)
RC  Republic of China (Taiwan) 1932
RCA  Central African Republic 1962 République Centrafricaine (French)
RCB  Republic of the Congo 1962 République du Congo Brazzaville (French)
RCH  Chile 1930 República de Chile (Spanish)
RG  Guinea 1972 République de Guinée (French)
RH  Haiti 1952 République d'Haïti (French)
RI  Indonesia 1955 Republik Indonesia (Indonesian)
RIM  Mauritania 1964 République islamique de Mauritanie (French)
RKS Flag of Kosovo.svg Kosovo 2010 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
RP  Philippines 1975 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 SU Formerly part of the Soviet Union
RWA  Rwanda 1964 RU − 1962 Formerly part of Ruanda-Urundi − 1962
S  Sweden 1911
SD  Swaziland 1935
SGP  Singapore 1952
SK  Slovakia 1993 CS 1919–39,1945–92
SQ 1939–45
Formerly Československo (Czechoslovakia)
SLO  Slovenia 1992 SHS 1919–29
Y 1929–53
YU 1953–92
Formerly part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, then part of Yugoslavia
SME  Suriname 1936
SN  Senegal 1962
SO  Somalia 1974
SRB  Serbia 2006 SB – 1919
SHS 1919–29
Y 1929–53
YU 1953–2003
SCG 2003–2006
Formerly part of the 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)
SUD  Sudan 1963
SY  Seychelles 1938
SYR  Syria 1952
T  Thailand 1955
TCH, TD  Chad 1973 Tchad (French)
TG  Togo 1973
TJ  Tajikistan 1992 SU − 1991 Formerly part of the Soviet Union
TM  Turkmenistan 1992 SU − 1991 Formerly part of the Soviet Union
TN  Tunisia 1957 F − 1956 Formerly a territory of France
TR  Turkey 1923
TT  Trinidad and Tobago 1964
UA  Ukraine 1992 SU Formerly part of the Soviet Union
UAE  United Arab Emirates 1971
USA  United States 1952
UY  Uruguay 2012 ROU
UZ  Uzbekistan 1992 SU Formerly part of the Soviet Union
V   Vatican City 1931 SCV (Stato della Città del Vaticano) is used as a prefix on the licence plate number itself.
VN  Vietnam 1953
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
YV  Venezuela 1955
Z  Zambia 1964 RNR Prepared for independence as the Republic of Northern Rhodesia
ZA  South Africa 1936 Zuid-Afrika (from Dutch; in Afrikaans it is Suid-Afrika[10])
ZW  Zimbabwe 1980 SR, RSR Formerly Southern Rhodesia until 1965, Rhodesia unrecognised until 1980

Codes no longer in use[edit]

Code Country Used until Replaced by Notes
ADN Colony of Aden Aden 1980 Y From 1938. a.k.a. South Yemen, People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (1967)
BA Myanmar Burma 1956 BUR From 1937.
BP Bechuanaland Protectorate Bechuanaland Protectorate 1966 Now Botswana
CA  Canada 1956 CDN
CS Czechoslovakia 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 East Germany German Democratic Republic 1990 D From 1974 (used D until 1974), Deutsche Demokratische Republik
GBY  Malta 1966 M Changed after Independence from UK
EW  Estonia 1993 EST Eesti Vabariik (Estonian)
FR Faroe Islands Faroe Islands 1996 FO Føroyar (Faroese)
GRO Greenland Greenland 1910 KN Grønland (Danish language) / Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenlandic language). Unofficial. The official code is DK.
HV Republic of Upper Volta Haute Volta, now Burkina Faso 1984 BF Upper Volta
LR  Latvia 1927–1940 SU, LV Latvijas Republika (Latvian)
R Romania Romania 1981 RO
RB  Botswana 1966 BP Republic of Botswana. Formerly Bechuanaland Protectorate
RNY Flag of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (1953–1963).svg Rhodesia-Nyasaland Fed. 1953–1963 NP, NR, SR Now Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe
ROU  Uruguay 1979–2012 UY República Oriental del Uruguay (Spanish)
RSR Flag of Rhodesia (1964–1968).svg 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
SB Kingdom of Serbia Serbia 1919 SHS Serbia became part of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
SCG Serbia and Montenegro Serbia and Montenegro 2006 MNE, SRB From Serbian name "Srbija i Crna Gora". Now Montenegro, Serbia
SF  Finland 1993 FIN SF from "Suomi – Finland" (the names of the country in its official languages, Finnish and Swedish)
SHS Kingdom of Yugoslavia Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes 1929 Y Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca – Serbo-Croatian. Kingdom changed its name to Yugoslavia
SU Soviet Union Soviet Union 1991 EST, LT, LV, BY, MD, UA, TJ, TM, GE, KZ, UZ, KS, AZ, AM, RUS
SWA South-West Africa South West Africa 1990 now Namibia
TS Free Territory of Trieste Free Territory of Trieste 1947–1954 Territory A Zone. Now under Italy administration
Y Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Yugoslavia 1953 YU Yemen started using Y afterwards
YU Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Yugoslavia/Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Yugoslavia 2003 BIH, HR, MK, MNE, RKS, SRB, SLO Now Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, and Slovenia

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received formal recognition as an independent state from 113 out of 193 United Nations member states.

The unofficial code for Brittany, Bzh
Note

There are unofficial codes in common use, such as "CYM" for Wales, "BZH" for Brittany, "VL" for Flanders, "V" for Vojvodina/Vajdaság, "TS" for Transylvania,"PR" for Puerto Rico, "SIC" for Székely Land (from Latin Terra Siculorum) and "CD" for "Corps Diplomatique".

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 are so unknown.

Diplomatic licence plate codes[edit]

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 Norway are indicated with numbers only, again different from international standards (e.g. 90 means Slovakian.

References[edit]

  1. ^ See Georgano, G. N. and Andersen, Thorkil Ry; The New encyclopedia of motorcars, 1885 to the present; p. 18 ISBN 0525932542
  2. ^ See Harding, Anthony and Bird, Anthony; Guinness Book of Car Facts and Feats: A Record of Everyday Motoring and Automotive Achievements; p. 243. ISBN 0851122078
  3. ^ United Nations, Distinguishing Signs Used on Vehicles in International Traffic, 15 February 2007
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ "Convention on Road Traffic on 8 November 1968 - Index Page". Auto Driver Club. NYS ZONE INC. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  6. ^ 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, Annex 2: Registration of Vehicles in International Traffic Archived March 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., 2004 (also here "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2010-03-12. and here "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-31. Retrieved 2010-03-12.)
  7. ^ "Council Regulation (EC) No 2411/98". Council of the European Union. 3 November 1998.
  8. ^ http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/conventn/Distsigns
  9. ^ http://www.minbuza.nl/en/Key_Topics/Treaties/Search_the_Treaty_Database?verdragid=12396[dead link]
  10. ^ See article .za

Further reading[edit]

  • "RPW": Neil Parker and John Weeks, Registration Plates of the World, Europlate; 4th edition (2004)

External links[edit]