Vehicle licence

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A valid vehicle licence is required by law in some countries to be displayed on any registered motor vehicle if it is to be used or kept on a public road.


In some countries, like Norway, the owner annually used to get a sticker to place on the registration plate, if the vehicle is permitted for driving. In the United States and Canada, an annual or biennial sticker is usually applied to the licence plate, with a few exceptions. For example, the District of Columbia and a few U.S. states use windscreen stickers, and some U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions issue permanent fleet licence plates. Also, some U.S. states, such as Virginia, require that a motorist obtain a vehicle licence from the city, county, or town government in addition to registering the vehicle with the appropriate agency of the state government. Some of these jurisdictions have done away with the sticker entirely in recent years, leaving registration status available only from a centralized database which authorities reference (by hand, or via automated number plate recognition).


In Australia, historically a windscreen sticker has been required but several states are moving away from requiring stickers in favour of number plate recognition systems.[1]

In New South Wales from 1 January 2013, all light vehicles in NSW no longer need a registration sticker. If a vehicle registration is due after 1 January 2013, a sticker will not be issued as it is not required.[2]

Western Australia was the first state to remove the requirement to display a sticker in January 2010[3] and also South Australia and Tasmania no longer requires a sticker to be displayed.

Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory no longer requires registration labels from 1 July 2014 for all light vehicles. [4][5]

Queensland no longer require registration labels from 1 October 2014 for all light vehicles. [6]

Victoria no longer require registration labels from 1 January 2014 for all light vehicles. [7]

United Kingdom[edit]

A tax disc, 1956.

Until October 2014, in the UK, the vehicle licence, which was erroneously known as a tax disc, came in the form of a paper disc 75 millimeters in diameter to be displayed on the vehicle, and was evidence that the necessary vehicle excise duty had been paid for the specific vehicle.

The vehicle excise duty was introduced in 1889, and between 1920 and 1 October 2014[8] had to be evidenced by the display of a paper disc. From 1 October 2014 the physical disc was no longer issued and enforcement of the taxation is through the ANPR system.

In Northern Ireland, vehicles over 4 years old require a similar format 'disc' from the DVA run MOT test centres to show roadworthiness.


In Germany, a driver is required to carry a vehicle licence (called the 'Fahrzeugschein') containing vehicle owner data, technical specifications and car modifications. Additionally, each car has a registration plate sticker to indicate compliance with vehicle safety and emission standards that are to be checked regularly. While the vehicle licence is permanent, the sticker has to be renewed after a 1 to 3 year period, depending on the type and age of the vehicle.


In Ireland, a tax disc must also be displayed, which is of the same format as that in the UK. However, in addition, a square insurance 'disc' must also be displayed to show that the vehicle has the legally required third party insurance. Private cars over 4 years old require a similar format 'disc' from the National Car Test service to show roadworthiness.


In Malta, tax discs are very similar in appearance to their UK counterparts, and are also required to be visible on the left-hand side of the windscreen. The disc proves that the vehicle has valid insurance, and that it has passed its Vehicle Roadworthiness Test (VRT).

Sri Lanka[edit]

In Sri Lanka, a revenue licence must be displayed on the vehicle, and is evidence that the necessary vehicle excise duty has been paid for the specific vehicle. It is normally placed on the left side of the windscreen if it is a four wheeled vehicle. A revenue licence is issued for a period of one year and must be renewed annually, during which an emissions test must be performed.

See also[edit]

  • Velology – the collection of tax discs and their history and design.


External links[edit]