Vehicle registration plates of Romania

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Romanian vehicle registration plate issued in 2007
Romanian vehicle registration plate issued before 1 January 2007

The standard format for vehicle registration plates in Romania is a blue vertical stripe (the "Euroband") on the left side of the plate displaying the 12 stars of the European Union and the country code of Romania (RO), followed – in black characters on a white background – by a one- or two-letter county code and a combination of two or three[1] digits and three capital letters. On plates issued before 1 January 2007 the flag of Romania was used instead of the 12 European stars. The digits and letters are usually assigned at random, unless a customization fee is paid. The plates are issued for each car and for each owner, and they must be returned when the car is either sold or scrapped, although the new buyer is entitled to request continued use of the old number plate. Letter combinations that may form obscene text in Romanian are not issued. The letter "Q" is not used as it may be confused with "O". Also the three-letter code cannot start with "I" or "O", as they can be mistaken with "1" or "0" (until 1999, "I" and "O" were not used at all).

The rear plate usually carries a round label displaying the month and year until when the technical inspection of the vehicle is valid. They have different background colors depending on the year displayed. The roundel does not have a specific slot like a german plate, it is most of the time haphazardly sticked.

From 1 January 2010, the authorities in Bucharest began issuing plates with three digits instead of the former two, as it was estimated that the number of available two-digit combinations would run out before the end of that year.[2]


In Romania, vehicle license plates are issued based on:

  • Article 19 from O.U.G. 195 from 12 December 2002 regarding traffic on public roads[3]
    • Order of Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration nr. 1501 from 13 November 2006, regarding the procedure of vehicle licensing, registering, striking out and issuing of provisional or running licenses.[4]
      • Romanian Standard SR 13078:1996 "Road vehicles. Retro-reflective registration plates for motor vehicles and trailers" with five updates.[5]
      • Romanian Standard SR 13140:1996 "Road vehicles. Content and structure of registration provisional and running test numbers to be relief embossed on retro-reflective registration plates" with three updates.[6]

Current license plates[edit]

There are six other types of license plates in use in Romania:

  • Red plate
    The red plate, consisting of the European strip, followed by the county code and three to six digits, of which the first is always zero and the second is always non-zero. All the writing outside of the European-strip on this plate is in red font. These plates are valid for a maximum of 30 days and they can be issued again for a cumulative period of up to 90 days.[7] They are usually issued by car dealers as temporary registration for their new cars. (Unlike some countries, license plates don't usually stick with either the car or the driver and each new owner must do the car registration again. When the car changes its owner within the same county the plates usually stick to the car, unless the former owner wants to keep the plates or if the new owner wants new plates. When it is transferred to another county the plates are changed, receiving the new county code and a new series, but the former owner may also keep the previous plates.).
There is a variation of this format, used for test vehicles, and having 3 digits following the county code, and the "PROBE" text after the digits. The smallest number used is 100 or 101.
  • Temporary plate
    The black plate, same as the red plate, except for the black number, and a right-sided red strip, containing the end date of the plate's validity (YY/MM format). This kind of plate is used for cars that fall under a leasing agreement, with the plate's validity ending when the contract expires. However, there are cars under leasing contracts, that have regular registration plates, that depending on the way the registration taxes are being paid. Foreign citizens, having temporary residence, have their cars registered with such plates.
  • Diplomatic plate
    The diplomatic plate contains the European strip, followed in blue by the text CO, CD (Corp Diplomatic), or TC (Taxi creditar, usually issues to lower-ranking service staff) and 6 numbers. The first three numbers stand for the country or international organization, the last three usually for the rank of the owner. The lowest number for both sets of 3 is 101. Thus, a car with license plate number 123 101 would refer to Switzerland's (Switzerland is 123) ambassador (ambassadors' or heads of missions' official car usually is 101). The license plate is issued exclusively to diplomats, and cars having such plates enjoy diplomatic immunity. Initially, the countries or organizations received codes in their alphabetical order. Later, some countries like United States or Russia, received more than one code, although it could be up to 899 registered cars per country/organization code. Table of codes (incomplete):
Code Country
105  Austria
123   Switzerland
125  Finland
126  France
150  Netherlands
166  Turkey
216  Georgia
  • MAI plate
    Army plate
    The special plates can be issued by agencies, ministries and local administration for use on their vehicles. Currently, the Army, the Ministry of Administration and Interior and Mayor's Offices are allowed to issue such numbers. Their format, size and style is decided by each ministry via internal regulations - for example - the Army uses plates containing no European strip (as their regulations predate the 1992 regulation imposing the European strip), with the letter "A" (Army) followed by 3 to 7 digits (3 to 4 for small vehicles, and more than 4 for heavy vehicles). Army plates issued more recently (from 2002 onwards) have the European strip. The Ministry of Administration and Interior standard is identical to the one used by the Army, with the exception that it reads "MAI" instead of "A" and can be often seen on Gendarmerie or Police vehicles.
  • Yellow licence plate for Cisnădie
    The yellow background plates are issued by the local authorities such as municipalities, village or commune mayoralties for the registration of certain light vehicles, or other types of vehicles that do not need state level authorization, such as public utility vehicles, some light garbage trucks, lawn mowers, small sanitation vehicles, trolleybuses, trams, quad bikes, scooters, golf carts and non-road going vehicles, such as combine harvesters, non-road-going tractors, horse-drawn carts, etc. The format of the plate is not fully standardized. Most of the local authorities used the yellow plate, but there are exceptions like Cluj-Napoca, which used white plate similar to old German plates, but always bearing the letters CJ-N (from the city name's abbreviation), followed by 3 digits. Other cities or villages use their coat of arms or initials, or even their entire name, some times followed by the county name or abbreviation. All that is followed by a fixed-length number (4 to 6 digits, but same size for the same issuing authority). The first number to be issued is usually 1, zero-padded to the left if needed. These vehicles cannot leave the jurisdiction of the authority that issued the plate, but it is common to such vehicles (mostly scooters) to travel within the county limits, or even travel to other counties. Some of these vehicles bear temporary plates while being towed to their destination, if that means crossing the limits of the county where they have been initially registered. This usually happens to trolleybuses on their way from the factory to the transport company. Dual-powered buses are registered with standard number plates. Trams may not bear the plate itself, but are required to somehow bear the registration number, either painted or printed on a sticker, usually next to their fleet number. Rented vehicles keep the registration plates issued by the local authority of the region where the owner resides, aven though they are used in another jurisdiction.
  • White on black background plates are extremely rare, and not clearly specified by the law.[citation needed] They belong to the administration of religious organizations, such as the Romanian Orthodox Church.[citation needed] There are not more than a dozen or two vehicles using such registration plates.[citation needed] They can be mostly seen around important monasteries. The format is identical to the standard one, excepting the reversal of the colours.[citation needed]

County codes[edit]

Map of the codes.

This is the table of counties, their county code and their county capital cities.

Code County Capital
AB Alba Alba Iulia
AG Argeș Pitești
AR Arad Arad
B Bucharest (Capital)
BC Bacău Bacău
BH Bihor Oradea
BN Bistrița-Năsăud Bistrița
BR Brăila Brăila
BT Botoșani Botoșani
BV Brașov Brașov
BZ Buzău Buzău
CJ Cluj Cluj-Napoca
CL Călărași Călărași
CS Caraș-Severin Reșița
CT Constanța Constanța
CV Covasna Sfântu Gheorghe
DB Dâmbovița Târgoviște
DJ Dolj Craiova
GJ Gorj Târgu Jiu
GL Galați Galați
GR Giurgiu Giurgiu
HD Hunedoara Deva
HR Harghita Miercurea Ciuc
IF Ilfov Bucharest
IL Ialomița Slobozia
IS Iași Iași
MH Mehedinți Drobeta-Turnu Severin
MM Maramureș Baia Mare
MS Mureș Târgu Mureș
NT Neamț Piatra Neamț
OT Olt Slatina
PH Prahova Ploiești
SB Sibiu Sibiu
SJ Sălaj Zalău
SM Satu Mare Satu Mare
SV Suceava Suceava
TL Tulcea Tulcea
TM Timiș Timișoara
TR Teleorman Alexandria
VL Vâlcea Râmnicu Vâlcea
VN Vrancea Focșani
VS Vaslui Vaslui


1900s - 1908[edit]

Plates were first issued at the beginning of the twentieth century. The plates took the simple form of white numbers on a black background, and were home made. The numbers belonged to the owner and not the car, and the list of owners and their numbers was published monthly in the Revista Automobila magazine, edited by the Romanian Royal Automobile club. As there were so few cars (139 in 1908), it was not necessary to note the region on the number plate. Registration was done centrally by the Mayor of Bucharest. Interestingly, the first number registered was 0, to Prince Bibescu, president of the Automobile Club (ACR). Institutes as well as individuals could own the numbers.

1908 - 1966[edit]

In 1908, a letter to the Mayor of Bucharest addressed the need for a more standardized system with a regional indicator also appearing on the license plate. This was approved in September or October and the new licence plates appeared within the month. In Bucharest and most other counties, the standard plate was a number, followed by a hyphen and the regional abbreviation. Bucharest, for example, was B (Bc before 1914), while Craiova was Cv. In some districts, however, the county code did not come after the number until the 1920s. Period photos of, for example, Lugoj, show the abbreviation Lgs, appearing both before and after the number, depending on whether the owner had changed the license plates to conform to the new regulations. Official royal cars generally had a crown displayed on the plate instead of any other combination.

This system was in place until 1966. However, the frequent territorial and administrative changes of the period meant that the codes changed often. For example, after 1960 a car registered in Craiova as 150-Cv would have changed its license plate to 150-OL, corresponding to the new administrative region Oltenia. Similarly, when Brașov changed its name to Orașul Stalin in 1952, the regional code was also changed to O.S., before reverting to Bv in 1960. By the 1960s all codes were two letters long and capitalised.

Special numbers were used occasionally to denote the type of vehicles they were on. For a period in the 1930s, in Bucharest, numbers between 10,000-B and 12,999-B (the comma was used as thousands separator) were taxis; some had Tx as an additional tag, as did buses, which started with 15,000-B. In the 1950s, small commercial vehicles were given numbers over 25,000, large commercial vehicles and buses numbers over 50,000, tractors over 65,000 and motorcycles over 75,000. By 1966, when the system was changed, in Bucharest cars had reached over 23,000 and motorcycles over 90,000. Although in the interbellum period 1 was the smallest number possible (0 in Bucharest), under Communism numbers started with 101, possibly after the Soviet system, 01-01.

Interwar-period county codes[edit]

Code Capital County
Al Alba Iulia Alba
Ar Arad Arad
Pt Pitești Argeș
Bc Bacău Bacău
Flt Fălticeni Baia
Bălți Bălți
Bei Beiuș Bihor (1940-44)
Ord Oradea Bihor
Br Brăila Brăila
Bv Brașov Brașov
Bt Botoșani Botoșani
Bz Buzău Buzău
Bzg Bazargic Caliacra
Ch Cahul Cahul
Orv Oravița Caraș
C.Lg Câmpu-Lung Câmpu-Lung
Mr.C Miercurea Ciuc Ciuc
Cți Cernăuți Cernǎuți
C.Al Cetatea Albă Cetatea Albă
Clj Cluj Cluj
Cța Constanța Constanța
Gl Galați Covurlui
Tg Târgoviște Dâmbovița
Cv Craiova Dolj
Dr Dorohoi Dorohoi
Sl Silistra Durostor
Huși Fălciu
Fgs Făgăraș Făgăraș
Tg.J Târgu Jiu Gorj
Ht Hotin Hotin
Dv Deva Hunedoara
Cl Călărași Ialomița
Iași Iași
B București Ilfov
Is Ismail Ismail
Chs Chișinău Lăpușna
Sgt Sighet Maramureș
Tr.S Turnu-Severin Mehedinți
Tg.M Târgu Mureș Mureș
Cp.L Câmpulung-Muscel Muscel
Btr Bistriţa Năsăud
Pn Piatra Neamț Neamț
Odh Odorhei Odorhei
St Slatina Olt
Oh Orhei Orhei
Pl Ploești Prahova
Focșani Putna
Rdț Rădăuți Rădăuți
Rm.S Râmnicu-Sărat Râmnicu-Sărat
Ro Roman Roman
Cr Caracal Romanați
St.M Satu Mare Satu Mare
Zal Zalău Sălaj
Lgș Lugoj Severin
Sb Sibiu Sibiu
Dej Dej Someș
Sor Soroca Soroca
Stj Storojineț Storojineț
Suc Suceava Suceava
Seg Sighet Târnava-Mare
D-in Diciosânmartin Târnava-Mică (pre 1926)
Blj Blaj Târnava-Mică (post 1926)
Tc Tecuci Tecuci
Tr.M Turnu-Măgurele Teleorman
Tmș Timișoara Timiș-Torontal
Tgh Tighina Tighina
St.G Sfântu-Gheorghe Trei-Scaune
Tl Tulcea Tulcea
Trd Turda Turda
Bd Bârlad Tutova
Rm.V Râmnicu-Vâlcea Vâlcea
Vs Vaslui Vaslui
Gg Giurgiu Vlașca

1966 - 1992[edit]

Old Romanian license plate

In 1966 the whole system was changed. The new plates were initially issued in the format aa-BB-ccccc:

  • The numbers in front (aa) were arranged as follows:
    • 1 to 19 - automobiles, since 1990 all private vehicles, regardless of type
    • 20 - reserved for automobiles, but never used
    • 21 to 30 - freight transport vehicles, including lorry tractor units; also buses, if modified for freight transport
    • 31 to 40 - buses, coaches and utility vehicles
    • 41 to 45 - road tractors
    • 46 to 50 - motorcycles.
  • The letters (BB) denoted the administrative regions until 1968, and after that counties (județe). Following the 1968 reorganisation of Romania's counties, new codes were introduced. These represented generally the same counties as the ones used today (see the county codes). However, between 1966 and 1968, some old codes were used. Thus, a registration plate for Ploiesti region would be 1-PL-1234, which would have changed after 1968 to 1-PH-1234 (for Prahova). Many codes, however, did not need to change: Bucharest (B), Cluj (CJ) and Sibiu (SB), for example, remained the same.
  • The numbers after the county abbreviation (ccccc) were in groups of either three, four or five digits, and were issued in ascending order, starting from 101. The old plates were declared invalid. 101 as the first number may have come from the Soviet-style "first number" 01-01.
  • Numbers with 5 digits after the county code were issued only in Bucharest. It started with 1-B-10000 to 1-B-99999, then 2-B-10000 to 59999, until the change of the system. 9-B-10000 to 9-B-39999 were issued, between the early 1980s and 1992, for Ilfov (or the Ilfov Agricultural Sector). Up until the 1980s Ilfov plates were registered IF, an abbreviation which would return in 2005.

An interesting development was the connection between the license plate and the social status of the car owner. For example, the "important" cars (i.e. those belonging to the nomenklatura) generally used 1, then the county, then three digits. Nicolae Ceaușescu's ARO sported the "1-B-111" license plate. By the mid-1970s, any plate with three digits was considered important (regardless of the number at the front), and although older cars had been initially issued with three-digit combinations, many owners were "asked" by the authorities to change their numbers. In an age where most people had the same car - the Dacia - such distinguishing features were considered important. By the 1980s, in Bucharest 1-B with 3 or 4 digits and 2-B and 3-B with three digits were also considered important numbers. Furthermore, the legend that the three-digit formula, where the middle number was the sum of the other two numbers, signified real importance sprang up. Thus, many senior Communist leaders had numbers such as 1-B-363, while the Neamț County party secretary had 1-NT-165 on his black Volga.

Foreign citizens and organizations were issued plates with 12-B (later 12-xx in other counties). 14-B was used for rental cars, but since 1990 some official cars had such number plates too.

There were also some stylistic variations. Numbers on a yellow (rather than white) background were state property, but since all trucks, buses and other heavy vehicles were state property, those with yellow background plates belonged to ministries or other special state organizations. Numbers with white letters on a black background were issued to vehicles of the foreign organizations in Romania, but also to vehicles belonging to religious organizations.

Temporary plates had the county code and then a number beginning with 0; test drive plates had a number beginning with 0 and then the county.

In late 1977 the manufacture of plates was standardized and they were all made on a pressed steel rectangle; previously plates had been plastic, cast iron, enamel, porcelain or even plaster. In around 1982, after 19-B-9999 had been reached, it was decided to begin the series 1-B with five digits. In 1983, after a brief reorganization of the counties, IF (Ilfov County) was dropped, CL (Călărași County) and GR (Giurgiu County) were introduced, and the Bucharest Agricultural Sector (Sectorul Agricol Ilfov) issued plates beginning with 9-B and followed by five digits. The fonts used on the number plates changed slightly in 1988.


The system was finally changed in 1992, when new reflective plates were introduced, with the numbering system still in use today. For a brief while, plates were still issued under the old system, until the end of May 1993. One reason was to please the European authorities and to make Romanian cars safer when being driven abroad (the new plates being reflective); another was - allegedly - to hide the identities of previous Communist leaders, whose importance was visible on their bumpers. Indeed, in the weeks after the Romanian Revolution, many changed their license plates to Army plates to avoid trouble. Nevertheless, they remained valid until late 2000, and for many years 1-B-101 and 1-B-106 were seen being driven around Bucharest on cars owned by tennis player Ilie Năstase.

In the mid-1990s, urban myths circulated that the new "powerful" license plates began with B 06. However, this was quickly superseded by the rumour that they contained a W in the three-letter sequence. Although this is not strictly incorrect - many, such as the cars used by Traian Băsescu and Prince Charles, do - certainly not all such numbers are of any significance.

Special plates[edit]

The Army license plates[edit]

The license plates before around 1945 were white and had a number beginning with a zero. In front of the number was the initial of the Ministry of Defense State Undersecretaries:

  • U for the Ground Forces (U for Uscat, Land)
  • A for the Air Force (A for Aer, Air)
  • M for the Navy (M for Marină, Navy)
  • I for the Logistics (I for Înzestrare, Logistics).

This system was subsequently abolished when all military vehicles had the prefix A (for Armată, Army) in front of the registered numbers, which start at 100. This system lasted until 2005 and is still visible today. Numbers smaller than 10,000 are generally kept for cars.

Diplomatic license plates[edit]

Until 1956 these were standard plates, with "CD" prefix attached to them. In 1956 oval and square plates were introduced, oval for CD (Corps Diplomatique) and square for TC (auxiliary staff). CD or TC went above a three- or four-digit number. In the early years (at least up till 1959), CD plates had the year at the bottom, in small lettering.

Special license plates[edit]

In the pre-1968 system, "CO" (Cetățean de Onoare, Citizen of Honor) was occasionally seen on private cars before 1941.

Vehicles belonging to traffic monitoring service had a plate with the text "Controlul circulaţiei" (Traffic monitoring) and a serial number.[8]


Wartime Transnistria occupied by Romanian forces briefly had its own special plates. These began Tr-number-regional suffix. Thus, the Cadillac of the regional administrator had Tr-1-Ods (for Odessa). These numbers were very short-lived.[citation needed]

Royal family[edit]

Vehicles belonging to Romanian royal family all had a rectangular white plate with a drawing of the Steel crown of Romania in the middle.[8][9]


  1. ^ "Numerele de inmatriculare auto din Bucuresti vor fi formate si din trei cifre". România Liberă. 30 December 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  2. ^ "Numere de inmatriculare cu trei cifre, pentru Bucuresti". 4 January 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Published in Monitorul Oficial nr. 958 from 28 December 2002; Approved by Law 49 from 8 March 2006, published in Monitorul Oficial nr. 246 from 20 March 2006.
  4. ^ Published in Monitorul Oficial nr. 941 from 21 November 2006.
  5. ^ Standard SR 13078:1996 "Road vehicles. Retro-reflective registration plates for motor vehicles and trailers"
  6. ^ Standard SR 13140:1996 "Road vehicles. Content and structure of registration provisional and running test numbers to be relief embossed on retro-reflective registration plates"
  7. ^ "Inmatriculari". Directia Regim Permise de Conducere si Inmatriculare a Vehiculelor. Retrieved 31 August 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Article 6 from Legea nr. 121 asupra poliţiei circulației pe drumurile publice, published in Monitorul Oficial, part I, nr. 90 from 21 April 1947, page 3076.
  9. ^ Article 17 from Regulament de aplicare a Legii privitoare la circulaţia automobilelor, published in Monitorul Oficial nr. 117 from 28 August 1921, page 4617.

External links[edit]