Vehicle registration plates of South Africa
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Material, shapes and availability and registration
Number plates are available in plastic or metal. Plastic is the preferred material used by the majority of the motorists. They are also more common than their metal counterpart and are issued as standard plates by car dealerships, except in Gauteng Province where, from 2013, newly issued plates must be metal.
The most common size is identical to the European number plates' size (110 mm × 520 mm (4.3 in × 20.5 in)) . However, a shorter plate is also common (120 mm × 440 mm (4.7 in × 17.3 in)). Most car dealerships now issue the former. Other shapes such as American and motorbike sizes are also available. Number plates can be made over the counter at registration/licensing stores in shopping centres, although the vehicle registration document may be required.
From 1 February 2000, a process started to replace all number plates in South Africa to an aluminium number plate with an RFID tag containing a unique identification code, including the ability to identify the number plate in a foreign nation. This is termed an Intelligent Number Plate system. The system has been implemented for additional and circumstantial use. The numbering structure on plates will also then change. Concerning the foreign identification system within South Africa, foreigners are granted the permission to verify their number plate to the South African number plate system.
The Department of Roads and Transport in South Africa has set aside R25 million for the project during the 2015/2016 fiscal year. The Department of Transport in Kwa-Zulu Natal has set aside R1.5 million for vehicle registration plates for the province. A secure electronic mark will be used in the encryption of the code.
The system can automatically generate the details of driving offences committed by a driver.
As of July 2016, new vehicles are however still being fitted with plastic plates and the system has still not been implemented.
New legislation also requires that a new vehicle's number plate be fixed to the body of the vehicle with four 4mm rivets.
|Province||Standard Plates||Personalised Plates||Example||Colouring||Graphics|
|Western Cape Province||Cab #||xzzzzz WP||
|Black on white
(Black on yellow still legal)
|KwaZulu-Natal Province||Nab #||xzzzzz ZN|| NN 21514
||Blue on white (Green on white for personalised plates)||None|
|Mpumalanga Province||aaa+++ MP||xzzzzz MP|| BBC123 MP
||Black on white||Stylised rising sun|
|Eastern Cape Province||aaa+++ EC||xzzzzz EC|| BBC 123 EC
||Black on graphic||Elephant and aloe|
|Limpopo Province||aaa+++ L||xzzzzz L|| BBC 123 L
||Black on white||baobab tree and provincial coat of arms|
|Gauteng Province||aaa+++ GP
|xzzzzz GP|| BBC 123 GP
BC 12 DF GP
|Blue on white||Provincial coat of arms|
|Northern Cape Province||aaa+++ NC||xzzzzz NC|| BBC 123 NC
||Green on white||Gemsbok and sand dune|
|Free State Province||aaa+++ FS||xzzzzz FS|| BBC 123 FS
||Black on graphic|
|North West Province||aaa+++ NW||xzzzzz NW|| BBC 123 NW
||Black on graphic||Maize cob, elephant, sunflower and mine headgear|
|Diplomatic vehicles||+++(D or C or X or S) +++D [Old]
(D or C or X or S) BBa +++ D [New]
|None||C BBN 371 D||Red (for D plates) or Green (for C, X and S plates) on White||None|
|National government vehicles||Gaa+++ G||None||GBC 123 G||Black on yellow||None|
|Police vehicles||Baa+++ B||None|| BCB 123 B
||Black on white / blue on white (Gauteng)||None / Gauteng provincial coat of arms|
|Military vehicles||aaa+++ M||None||BCB 123 M||Black on yellow||None|
- In the Eastern Cape, provincial government vehicles (especially Health Department) have red letters and a red frame on white.
- Limpopo was initially named Northern Province and used the code N. When the name changed, a new sequence of numbers began, ending in L.
- UPPER CASE LETTERS: Literal letters in the number plate
- a: compulsory letter (A - Z)
- b: letter (A - Z) or nothing
- x: compulsory character (A - Z, 0 - 9)
- z: character (A - Z, 0 - 9) or nothing
- #: an integer number (1 - 999,999)
- +: a compulsory digit (0 - 9)
- NB:Vowels are not used on private vehicles.
Western Cape and Kwazulu-Natal
After 1994, the Western Cape Province and KwaZulu-Natal Province are the only two provinces where the registration can be still linked to specific towns and cities. i.e. the pre-1980 system has largely been retained in these areas, so the first two or three letters at the start of each number plate identify where the vehicle was licensed.
Western Cape Province
In 1994, the Cape Province was subdivided into three provinces (Western, Eastern and Northern Cape provinces). The Eastern and Northern Cape changed their licensing system so the Cape Province registration prefixes used there, like CB (Port Elizabeth) and CC (Kimberley), were dropped. The homeland states of Ciskei and Transkei became part of the Eastern Cape. The Stellaland district (Vryburg) became part of North West Province. The current Western Cape Province list is essentially an abbreviation of the pre-1980 Cape Province list.
|CA or CAA||Cape Town Afrikaans: Kaapstad (CAA was first introduced on 13 April 2019 when Cape Town ran out of CA combinations).|
|CAM||Caledon & Kleinmond|
|CAR||Clanwilliam, Lambert's Bay, Citrusdal, Graafwater|
|CAW or CAG||George (When the George area ran out of CAW combinations in late 2019, CAG started being issued. CAG used to be the code for Barkly West, Northern Cape which now uses NC).|
|CBS||Mossel Bay & Hartenbos. Afrikaans: Mosselbaai.|
|CCA||Prince Albert Afrikaans: Prins Albert.|
|CCC||Riversdale & Stilbaai. Afrikaans: Riversdal.|
|CCD||Robertson & McGregor|
|CCK||Swellendam & Barrydale|
|CCP||Van Rhynsdorp, Klawer. Afrikaans: Vanrhynsdorp.|
|CEM||Hermanus, Gansbaai, Onrus River & Stanford|
|CEO||Grabouw & Elgin|
|CEY||Strand & Gordon's Bay|
|CF||Kuils River, Brackenfell, Kraaifontein (Since about 2000; previously the code for Grahamstown, Eastern Cape) Afrikaans: Kuilsrivier. Now part of the City of Cape Town.|
|CFG||Vredenburg, Saldanha & St Helena Bay|
|CFM||Somerset West. Afrikaans: Somerset-Wes.|
|CFP||Velddrif & Laaiplek|
|CFR||Kuils River & Brackenfell (Still seen on older vehicles.) Now part of the City of Cape Town.|
|CK||Malmesbury & Darling|
|CL||Stellenbosch & Franschhoek|
|CR||Hopefield, Langebaan & Langebaan Road|
|CS||Bredasdorp & Napier|
|CW||Worcester, De Doorns & Touws River|
|CX||Knysna, Sedgefield & Plettenberg Bay|
|CY||Bellville, Durbanville, Parow, Goodwood. Now part of the City of Cape Town.|
|CZ||Beaufort West Also known as Beaufort-Wes|
|CCT||Cape Town municipal vehicles. Previously the code for Willowmore, Eastern Cape.|
- NCW – Kokstad
- ND – Durban Now part of eThekwini.
- NDE – Dundee
- NDH – Dannhauser
- NDW – Ndwedwe
- NE – Estcourt
- NES – [[Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal|Eshowe]
- NF – Msinga
- NGL – Glencoe
- NH – Howick
- NHL – Hlabisa, Mtubatuba, Hluhluwe
- NIM – Impendle
- NIN – Ingwavuma
- NIP – Polela
- NIX – Ixopo
- NJ – Inanda,Ntuzuma, Kwamashu, Verulam, Tongaat. Now part of EThekwini
- NK – Richmond
- NKA – Nkandla
- NKK – Kranskop
- NKR – Ladysmith
- NKU – Ulundi
- NM – Maphumulo
- NMA – Mahlabatini
- NMG – Magudu
- NMR – Mooi River
- NMZ – Umzimkhulu Previously part of the Cape (code CDP) and then of Transkei (XH), as an enclave in Natal. Transferred to KwaZulu-Natal in 2006.
- NN – Newcastle
- NND – Nongoma
- NO – Melmoth Mthonjaneni district, Zululand.
- NP – Pietermaritzburg Capital of KwaZulu-Natal.
- NPG – Pongola This town, on the north bank of the Phongolo River, used to be part of the Transvaal panhandle between Swaziland and Natal, with its border on the Phongolo. It used the code TAG (Piet Retief).
- NPN – Pinetown Now part of eThekwini.
- NPP – Paulpietersburg
- NPS – now NSC Port Shepstone, Margate
- NR – Lions River, Howick
- NRB – Richards Bay
- NS – Ngotshe
- NT – Stanger & Ballito
- NTU – Nquthu
- NU – New Germany, Hillcrest, Kloof, Pinetown . Now part of
- NUB – Ubombo
- NUD – Underberg
- NUF – Empangeni
- NUL – Umbumbulu
- NUM – Greytown
- NUR – Umhlanga Rocks, Umdloti, KwaZulu-Natal . Now part of eThekwini.
- NUT – Utrecht
- NUZ – Umlazi. Now part of EThekwini
- NV – Vryheid
- NW – Weenen
- NX – Scottburgh
- NZ – Mtunzini, Gingindlovu
- NCS - KwaZulu-Natal Conservation Service
- NDM – eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality
- NPC - Msunduzi Municipality, Pietermaritzburg
Free State Province
The Free State is the only province in South Africa that places an expiry date on its registration plate. Every five years the owner is required to replace the plate irrespective of condition. This is only enforced in the Free State and if the owner uses the vehicle with “expired” plates in any other province he/she will not be prosecuted. This expiry is independent from the annual licence renewal required by national law. This is the only province in the country that has the same borders today as it did before the Boer War, although it has had three changes of name. It was the Oranje Vrijstaat (a Boer republic), the Orange River Colony (1902-1910), the Orange Free State Province (Provinsie Oranje Vrystaat, 1910-1994) and is now simply the Free State.
North West Province
A new numbering system was announced in December 2015, which would be implemented in February 2016.
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The standard annual non-personalised licence fee is between R200 and R600, depending on the province in which the vehicle is registered and the weight of the vehicle. A large number of heavy vehicles are registered in Northern and Eastern Cape where the licence fees per vehicle mass are low. The Western Cape has the most expensive annual licence fees, but as with Northern and Eastern Cape, it has few toll roads.
Vehicle owners can buy specific personalised registration numbers from registering authorities. The cost for a single digit registration e.g. CA 1 will be in the region of R6000 while a long number e.g. CA 12345 can be as low as R600.
All vehicles in South Africa, excluding motorcycles, are required to display a number plate on the front and the rear of the vehicle. For vehicles that cannot accommodate a full size plate in front, a plate with smaller dimensions may be fitted with permission from the registering authority.
The validation of a vehicle's registration number is indicated by a licence disc displayed inside the vehicle's windshield and must be visible from the passenger side of the vehicle. The vehicle's registration number, VIN and engine number as well as the licence expiry date, vehicle weight and number of passengers the vehicle is allowed to carry is indicated on the disc.
In the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, where the registration number is indicative of the town of registration, the registration number will not change when the owner of the vehicle relocates to another town in the same province. It is required of the owner to inform the authorities of a change of address within 21 days. However, if the owner relocates to another province, the owner has to register the vehicle in that province within 21 days. Whenever a vehicle is registered in a new owner's name, the vehicle will receive the registration of the new owner's town. If the vehicle is registered in the same town as the current registration, no change of registration number takes place.
When a vehicle changes ownership it is required that the vehicle be taken for a roadworthy test. The new owner is allowed to use a vehicle for a period of 21 days on the previous owner's registration before the vehicle has to be registered in the new owner's name. If the roadworthy result cannot be obtained within this period, the owner may register the vehicle without being roadworthy, however a licence disc will not be issued and the vehicle may not be used on a public road. A temporary permit must be obtained from the registering authority to drive the vehicle to the testing station or repair shop. The permit is valid for three days.
When a person buys a vehicle from a dealer in another province or town other than the one they live in, a temporary permit valid for three weeks is issued by the registration authorities. A vehicle can only be registered in the town the owner lives in. It is also not possible to renew the licence in any other town than the town the registered owner lives in.
The temporary permit is a cardboard "number plate" to be displayed in either the front or rear window of the vehicle.
When a vehicle's engine is replaced or the VIN and engine number needs to be verified for some legal reason, the vehicle needs to obtain police clearance. Since September 2012, a vehicle can only obtain a clearance if it was marked with a micro dot, or data dot system. This is a process where about 10,000 micro dots with a serial number on is sprayed with a resin onto all components of the vehicle. This serial number is linked to the vehicle's VIN on the national registration database. These dots can be found with an ultraviolet light and when magnified the serial number can be traced. New vehicles are treated in the factory and the dots carry the vehicle's VIN. This is to assist the authorities in identifying a vehicle or any part thereof when VIN and engine numbers are not legible, or have been removed.
Legislation is also on the table to have micro dotting made compulsory for all vehicles changing owners as well as requiring a 2-yearly roadworthy status for vehicles older than 10 years. The downside of this is that it might cause many poorer South Africans not to register vehicles in their name or to let licences lapse and just pay the fine when getting caught.
It is illegal in South Africa to alter or tamper with a vehicle's VIN or the factory stamped number on an engine in any way. Evidence of tampering will lead to the vehicles being confiscated and possibly destroyed.
Before 1994, South Africa had only four provinces: Cape Province, Natal Province, Orange Free State and Transvaal. Each province had its own identifying lettering: Cape – C, Natal – N, Orange Free State – O and Transvaal – T.
White letters on a black background were used across the country, including the military. For example: CC 147
Each town had a unique registration prefix followed by a number that was allocated sequentially from 1 (the mayor's vehicle) onward to 999 999. For trade plates (used by car dealers on un-licensed vehicles), the letters and numbers were swapped.
There were no personalised number plates.
Government vehicles used the letters GG (for Government Garage) as a prefix, followed by a sequential number. For example: GG 4321
- Three government services and a government agency used their own registration codes:
- DW – Department of Water Affairs.
- P – Post Office (including telecommunications).
- SAS-R – South African Railways road motor service.
- BT – Bantu Trust.
Military vehicles used the letter U (for Union Defence Force) as a prefix until 1961, when U was replaced by R (for Republic of South Africa), followed by a sequential number. Examples: U 4321 R 54321 On armoured vehicles especially, the numbers were painted in white on the green paint of the bodywork, or in black on desert sand paint.
Police vehicles used the letters SAP as a prefix, followed by a sequential number. For example: SAP 4321
However, many police vehicles were registered locally and carried the registrations used in the four provinces.
Diplomatic vehicles used the letters DC as a prefix, followed by a sequential number. For example: DC 4321
The towns in the Cape Province were originally assigned two-letter prefixes for the principal cities and towns, with smaller centres allocated three-letter codes. CA represented the largest city, Cape Town, CB the second-largest, Port Elizabeth, CC was Kimberley, CD King William's Town, CE East London, CF Grahamstown, CG Oudtshoorn, CH Queenstown, CI Worcester, CJ Paarl, CK Malmesbury and CL Stellenbosch. By the middle of the 20th century it was realised that the letter I was easily confused with the figure 1 and Q with O and 0, while odd codes had been introduced with the small letter o tagged on. So the system was revised, eliminating the o codes, and extra two-letter codes were allocated: CM De Aar, CN Wellington, CO Calitzdorp, CR Hopefield, CS Bredasdorp, CT Ceres, CU Port Nolloth, CV Vredendal, CW Worcester, CX Knysna, CY Bellville and CZ Beaufort West. The full list of Cape Province prefixes (with present-day provinces in brackets) was:
|CA||Cape Town, including the magisterial districts of Wynberg and Simon's Town (Western Cape) Afrikaans: Kaapstad.|
|CAB||Aberdeen (Eastern Cape)|
|CAC||Burgersdorp (Eastern Cape) Dutch: Burghersdorp. Magisterial district of Albert.|
|CAD||Alexandria & Paterson (Eastern Cape)|
|CAE||Aliwal North (Eastern Cape) Afrikaans: Aliwal-Noord.|
|CAF||Barkly East (Eastern Cape) Afrikaans: Barkly-Oos.|
|CAG||Barkly West (Northern Cape) Afrikaans: Barkly-Wes.|
|CAH||Port Alfred & Bathurst (Eastern Cape) District of Lower Albany.|
|CAJ||Bedford (Eastern Cape)|
|CAL||Britstown (Northern Cape)|
|CAM||Caledon & Kleinmond (Western Cape)|
|CAN||Calvinia, Brandvlei & Loeriesfontein (Northern Cape)|
|CAO||Carnarvon (Northern Cape)|
|CAP||Cathcart (Eastern Cape)|
|CAR||Clanwilliam & Lambert's Bay (Western Cape)|
|CAS||Colesberg (Northern Cape)|
|CAT||Cradock (Eastern Cape)|
|CAU||Fort Beaufort (Eastern Cape) District of Victoria East.|
|CAV||Fraserburg (Northern Cape)|
|CAW||George (Western Cape)|
|CAX||Lady Frere & Glen Grey district (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XR (Cacadu district).|
|CAY||Upington (Northern Cape) Was part of British Bechuanaland.|
|CAZ||Graaff-Reinet & Nieu-Bethesda (Eastern Cape)|
|CB||Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape) Now part of Nelson Mandela Bay.|
|CBA||Hanover (Northern Cape)|
|CBB||Griquatown (Northern Cape) Afrikaans: Griekwastad. Was part of Griqualand West.|
|CBC||Douglas (Northern Cape) Was part of Griqualand West.|
|CBD||Herschel (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XT.|
|CBE||Hopetown & Strydenburg (Northern Cape)|
|CBF||Humansdorp & Jeffreys Bay (Eastern Cape)|
|CBG||Jansenville (Eastern Cape)|
|CBH||Kenhardt (Northern Cape)|
|CBJ||Komga (Eastern Cape) Dutch: Komgha; now called Qumra.|
|CBK||Kuruman (Northern Cape) Now Kudumane.|
|CBL||Ladismith (Western Cape)|
|CBM||Laingsburg (Western Cape)|
|CBN||Mafeking (North West Province) When it was part of Bophuthatswana, the town's name was spelt Mafikeng; today it is Mahikeng. It used the Molopo district code YBA.|
|CBO||Hofmeyr (Eastern Cape) Magisterial district of Maraisburg (the town's original name).|
|CBP||Middelburg (Eastern Cape)|
|CBR||Montagu (Western Cape)|
|CBS||Mossel Bay & Hartenbos (Western Cape) Afrikaans Mosselbaai.|
|CBT||Murraysburg (Western Cape)|
|CBU||Springbok (Northern Cape) Namaqualand district.|
|CBV||Pearston (Eastern Cape)|
|CBW||Peddie (Eastern Cape) Was part of British Kaffraria; became part of Ciskei and used the code GCF.|
|CBX||Philipstown, with Petrusville & Vanderkloof (Northern Cape)|
|CBY||Piketberg (Western Cape)|
|CBZ||Prieska (Northern Cape)|
|CC||Kimberley (Northern Cape) Was capital of Griqualand West.|
|CCA||Prince Albert (Western Cape) Afrikaans: Prins Albert.|
|CCB||Richmond (Northern Cape)|
|CCC||Riversdale & Stilbaai (Western Cape) Afrikaans: Riversdal.|
|CCD||Robertson & McGregor (Western Cape)|
|CCE||Somerset East (Eastern Cape) Afrikaans: Somerset-Oos.|
|CCF||Steynsburg (Eastern Cape)|
|CCG||Steytlerville (Eastern Cape)|
|CCH||Seymour (Eastern Cape) Became part of Ciskei and used the code GCH (Mpofu district).|
|CCJ||Sutherland (Northern Cape)|
|CCK||Swellendam & Barrydale (Western Cape)|
|CCL||Tarkastad (Eastern Cape)|
|CCM||Tulbagh (Western Cape)|
|CCN||Uitenhage & Despatch (Eastern Cape) Now part of Nelson Mandela Bay.|
|CCO||Uniondale (Western Cape)|
|CCP||Van Rhynsdorp & Klawer (Western Cape) Afrikaans: Vanrhynsdorp.|
|CCR||Victoria West, Loxton & Vosburg (Northern Cape) Afrikaans: Victoria-Wes.|
|CCS||Vryburg & Reivilo (North West Province). This district was, in the 1880s, the short-lived Republic of Stellaland. It then became the capital of the colony of British Bechuanaland, and was annexed to the Cape Colony in 1895.|
|CCT||Willowmore (Eastern Cape)|
|CCU||Dordrecht (Eastern Cape)|
|CCV||Butterworth (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XB (Gcuwa district).|
|CCY||Umtata (Eastern Cape) Now Mthatha. Became capital of Transkei with the code XA.|
|CCZ||Cala (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XAC (Xalanga district).|
|CCW||Kokstad (now KwaZulu-Natal) When Kokstad, capital of Griqualand East, became part of the Natal Province in 1976, the prefix letter was changed to N: NCW)|
|CCX||Matatiele (in dispute between Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal) When Matatiele, part of Griqualand East, became part of the Natal Province in 1976, the prefix letter was changed to N: NCX)|
|CD||King William's Town (Eastern Cape) “King”, as it is known, was the capital of the colony of British Kaffraria. It did not become part of Ciskei, but its satellite township Zwelitsha did, using the code GCJ, which also served Dimbaza and Bisho. Now part of Buffalo City.|
|CDA||Elliot (Eastern Cape)|
|CDB||Engcobo (Eastern Cape) Now Ngcobo. Became part of Transkei and used the code XE.|
|CDC||Idutywa (Eastern Cape) Now Dutywa. Became part of Transkei and used the code XN.|
|CDD||Kentani (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei as Centane and used the code XY.|
|CDE||Nqamakwe (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XAA.|
|CDF||Port St Johns (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XF (Mzimvubu).|
|CDG||Elliotdale (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XAD (Xhora).|
|CDH||Mqanduli (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XAE.|
|CDJ||Bizana (Eastern Cape) Now Mbizana. Became part of Transkei and used the code XAF.|
|CDK||Flagstaff (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei as Gatyana, code XAG.|
|CDM||Cofimvaba (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei, code XD.|
|CDN||Willowvale (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei as Siphaqeni, code XAH.|
|CDL||Maclear (Eastern Cape)|
|CDO||Lusikisiki (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XC.|
|CDP||Umzimkulu (KwaZulu-Natal) Now Umzimkhulu. Became part of Transkei and used the code XH. Transferred to KwaZulu-Natal in 2006 and uses the code NMZ.|
|CDR||Tabankulu (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XAB.|
|CDS||Mount Frere (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XK (KwaBhaca district).|
|CDT||Mount Fletcher (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XW.|
|CDU||Libode (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XU.|
|CDV||Qumbu (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XV.|
|CDW||Mount Ayliff (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei as Maxesibeni, code XJ.|
|CDY||Ngqeleni (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XZ.|
|CDX||Middledrift (Eastern Cape) Became part of Ciskei and used the code GCD.|
|CDZ||Venterstad (Eastern Cape)|
|CE||East London & Gonubie (Eastern Cape) Afrikaans: Oos-Londen. East London was never part of British Kaffraria, being annexed directly to the Cape Colony. Mdantsane, a satellite township to East London, became part of Ciskei and used the code GCE. Now part of Buffalo City.|
|CEA||Moorreesburg (Western Cape)|
|CEB||Kirkwood (Eastern Cape)|
|CEC||Garies (Northern Cape)|
|CED||Hankey (Eastern Cape)|
|CEE||Warrenton (Northern Cape) Was part of Griqualand West.|
|CEF||Whittlesea (Eastern Cape) Became part of Ciskei and used the code GCB (Hewu district).|
|CEG||Heidelberg (Western Cape)|
|CEH||Jamestown (Eastern Cape)|
|CEJ||Lady Grey (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei as Cacadu district, code ZR.|
|CEK||Pofadder (Northern Cape)|
|CEL||Noupoort (Northern Cape) Dutch: Naauwpoort.|
|CEM||Hermanus, Gansbaai, Onrus River & Stanford (Western Cape)|
|CEN||Indwe (Eastern Cape)|
|CEO||Grabouw & Elgin (Western Cape)|
|CEP||Sterkstroom (Eastern Cape)|
|CER||Bonnievale (Western Cape)|
|CES||Albertinia (Western Cape)|
|CET||Joubertina (Eastern Cape)|
|CEU||Hartswater & Jan Kempdorp (Northern Cape) Jan Kempdorp was (before 1994) the only town in the country that fell into two provinces: the Cape and the Transvaal. It was treated administratively as being part of the Cape.|
|CEV||Postmasburg & Daniëlskuil (Northern Cape) Was part of British Bechuanaland.|
|CEW||Olifantshoek, Sishen & Kathu (Northern Cape) Was part of British Bechuanaland.|
|CEX||Porterville (Western Cape)|
|CEY||Strand & Gordon's Bay (Western Cape) Now part of Cape Town.|
|CEZ||Williston (Northern Cape)|
|CF||Grahamstown (Eastern Cape) This code is now used for Kuils River. Grahamstown, seat of the Albany district, is now named Makhanda.|
|CFA||Wolseley (Western Cape)|
|CFB||Molteno (Eastern Cape)|
|CFC||Stutterheim (Eastern Cape) Previously part of British Kaffraria. Earlier code CCI.|
|CFD||Alice (Eastern Cape), Victoria East district. Became part of Ciskei and used the code GCA.|
|CFE||Tsolo (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XO.|
|CFF||Tsomo (Eastern Cape) Became part of Transkei and used the code XAC.|
|CFG||Vredenburg, Saldanha & St Helena Bay (Western Cape) Previously CEI.|
|CFH||Kakamas (Northern Cape)|
|CFJ||Adelaide (Eastern Cape)|
|CFK||Keiskammahoek (Eastern Cape) Previously CDo. Became part of Ciskei and used the code GCC.|
|CFM||Somerset West (Western Cape) Afrikaans: Somerset-Wes. Previously CFm. Now part of Cape Town.|
|CFN||Taung (North West) Historically written as Taungs. Previously CCSo. Was part of British Bechuanaland; became part of Bophuthatswana and used the code YBN.|
|CFO||Keimoes (Northern Cape) Was part of British Bechuanaland.|
|CFP||Velddrif (incorporating Laaiplek; this code previously used for Laaiplek) (Western Cape)|
|CFR||Kuils River, Durbanville, Brackenfell & Kraaifontein (Western Cape) Afrikaans: Kuilsrivier. In the 21st century, the code for Kuils River became CF (previously the code for Grahamstown). Now part of Cape Town.|
|CFS||Groblershoop (Northern Cape)|
|CG||Oudtshoorn (Western Cape)|
|CH||Queenstown (Eastern Cape) Now called Komani.|
|CJ||Paarl & Franschhoek (Western Cape)|
|CK||Malmesbury & Darling (Western Cape)|
|CL||Stellenbosch (Western Cape)|
|CM||De Aar (Northern Cape) Previously CALo.|
|CN||Wellington (Western Cape) Previously CJo.|
|CO||Calitzdorp (Western Cape)|
|CR||Hopefield, Langebaan & Langebaan Road (Western Cape)|
|CS||Bredasdorp & Napier (Western Cape) Previously CAK.|
|CT||Ceres (Western Cape) Previously CAQ.|
|CU||Port Nolloth (Northern Cape)|
|CV||Vredendal (Western Cape) Previously part of Van Rhynsdorp district.|
|CW||Worcester, De Doorns & Touws River (Western Cape) Previously CI.|
|CWB||Walvis Bay (now Namibia) Walvis Bay, although legally part of the Cape Province, was long administered as part of South West Africa and used the SWA registration Wb. In the 1970s South West Africa adopted a new system using codes starting with S; Walvis Bay was SV. CWB was used during the short period when the town and its surrounding territory was returned to the Cape in the 1980s. Afrikaans: Walvisbaai. The German name Walfischbucht was never official, as the town was never part of German South West Africa.|
|CX||Knysna, Sedgefield & Plettenberg Bay (Western Cape) Previously CBI.|
|CY||Bellville, Goodwood, Parow, Durbanville & Kraaifontein (Western Cape) Now part of Cape Town.|
|CZ||Beaufort West (Western Cape) Afrikaans: Beaufort-Wes. Previously CAI.|
|PA||Provincial Administration Used on provincial traffic control and road construction vehicles, among others.|
Codes obsolete by 1950:
|CAGo||Klipdam (Northern Cape), near Windsorton; now a ghost town. Was part of Griqualand West.|
|CAK||Bredasdorp & Napier (Western Cape) Now CS.|
|CALo||De Aar (Northern Cape) Later CM.|
|CAQ||Ceres (Western Cape) Now CT.|
|CAUo||Adelaide (Eastern Cape) Later CFJ.|
|CAVo||Williston (Northern Cape) Later CEZ.|
|CAI||Beaufort West (Western Cape) Afrikaans: Beaufort-Wes. Now CZ.|
|CBI||Knysna, Sedgefield & Plettenberg Bay (Western Cape) Now CX.|
|CBQ||Molteno (Eastern Cape) Later CFB.|
|CDI||Tsolo (Eastern Cape) Later CFE.|
|CCI||Stutterheim (Eastern Cape) Later CFC.|
|CCQ||Alice (Eastern Cape) Victoria East district. Later CFD.|
|CCSo||Taung (North West) Historically written as Taungs. Later CFN.|
|CDo||Keiskammahoek (Eastern Cape) Later CFK.|
|CDQ||Tsomo (Eastern Cape) Later CFF.|
|CEI||Vredenburg, Saldanha Bay & St Helena Bay (Western Cape) Now CFG.|
|CFm||Somerset West (Western Cape) Afrikaans: Somerset-Wes. Now CFM.|
|CGo||Calitzdorp (Western Cape) Now CO.|
|CHo||Sterkstroom (Eastern Cape) Later CEP.|
|CI||Worcester (Western Cape) Now CW.|
|CJo||Wellington (Western Cape) Now CN.|
|CKo||Hopefield (Western Cape) Now CR.|
|TA||Benoni (Gauteng) Now part of Ekurhuleni.|
|TAC||Christiana (North West)|
|TAD||Lichtenburg (North West)|
|TAF||Zeerust (North West)|
|TAG||Piet Retief (Mpumalanga)|
|TAH||Nylstroom (Limpopo) Now Modimolle.|
|TAI||Wolmaransstad (North West) Obsolete code.|
|TAJ||Louis Trichardt (Limpopo)|
|TAK||Wolmaransstad district (North West)|
|TAL||Pietersburg (Limpopo) Now Polokwane.|
|TAN||Potgietersrus (Limpopo) Now Mokopane.|
|TAO||Ottosdal (North West)|
|TAR||Messina (Limpopo) Now Musina.|
|TAV||Hercules (Gauteng) Incorporated into Pretoria in 1948.|
|TAX||Swartruggens (North West)|
|TAZ||Brits (North West)|
|TB||Boksburg (Gauteng) Now part of Ekurhuleni.|
|TBB||Leeudoringstad (North West)|
|TBD||Duiwelskloof (Limpopo) Now Modjadjiskloof.|
|TBE||Delareyville (North West)|
|TBG||Charl Cilliers (Mpumalanga)|
|TBH||Nelspruit (Mpumalanga) Now Mbombela.|
|TBI||Koster (North West)|
|TBL||Machadodorp (Mpumalanga) Now eNtokozweni.|
|TCC||Coligny (North West)|
|TCD||Kempton Park (Gauteng) Afrikaans: Kemptonpark.|
|TCO||Carletonville (North West)|
|TCX||Makwassie (North West)|
|TDD||Pilgrim's Rest (Mpumalanga)|
|TDH||White River (Mpumalanga) Afrikaans: Witrivier.|
|TDK||Alberton (Gauteng) Now part of Ekurhuleni.|
|TDL||Edenvale (Gauteng) Now part of Johannesburg.|
|TG||Germiston (Gauteng) Now part of Ekurhuleni.|
|TK||Krugersdorp (Gauteng) Now part of Mogale City.|
|TL||Bloemhof (North West)|
|TLN||Lyttelton (Gauteng) In 1967 the town of Lyttelton was named Verwoerdburg (the township of Lyttelton retained its name). The code TLN was retained until the introduction of the province-wide T registration system. Following the 1994 elections the name Verwoerdburg was dropped and the town was named Centurion, after the cricket stadium near the N1, Centurion Park. The stadium now bears a sponsor's name.|
|TN||Ventersdorp (North West)|
|TNS||Naboomspruit (Limpopo) Now Mookgophong.|
|TO||Brakpan (Gauteng) Now part of Ekurhuleni.|
|TON||Meyerton (Gauteng) Now part of Midvaal.|
|TOY||Orkney (North West)|
|TP||Pretoria (Gauteng) Now part of Tshwane.|
|TR||Schweizer-Reneke (North West)|
|TRB||Rustenburg (North West)|
|TRG||Randburg (Gauteng) Now part of Johannesburg.|
|TS||Springs (Gauteng) Now part of Ekurhuleni.|
|TSN||Sandton (Gauteng) Now part of Johannesburg.|
|TU||Roodepoort (Gauteng) Long known as Roodepoort-Maraisburg; now part of Johannesburg.|
|TV||Vereeniging (Gauteng) Now part of Midvaal.|
|TVB||Vanderbijl Park (Gauteng) Afrikaans: Vanderbijlpark. Now part of Midvaal.|
|TWB||Warmbaths (Limpopo) Afrikaans: Warmbad. Now Bela Bela.|
|TX||Potchefstroom (North West)|
|TY||Klerksdorp (North West)|
|TZ||Stilfontein (North West)|
|TPA||Transvaal Provincial Administration Used on provincial vehicles.|
In many cases the districts of the province took their letters from the place names to determine the letters that are used to identify each region. Almost all of the areas remained unchanged since 1994, the Only province in South Africa not changing number plates or areas since 1994. This pattern does not always hold.
|NA||Harding (Alfred County)|
|NCW||Kokstad (Since 1976)|
|NCX||Matatiele (Since 1976)|
|NF||Msinga (Tugela Ferry)|
|NIP||Bulwer Now Polela.|
|NJ||Verulam, Inanda & Tongaat|
|NKR||Ladysmith & Klip River|
|NMR||Mooi River & Nottingham Road|
|NO||Melmoth (Mtonjaneni district, Zululand)|
|NP||Pietermaritzburg Capital of Natal.|
|NPN||Pinetown & Cowies Hill.|
|NPP||Paulpietersburg Was part of Nieuwe Republiek; annexed to Natal in 1903|
|NPS||Port Shepstone (Lower Umzimkulu)|
|NR||Howick & Lions River|
|NRB||Richards Bay Afrikaans: Richardsbaai. Zululand.|
|NS||Louwsburg Now Ngotshe.|
|NT||Stanger (now KwaDukuza) & Ballito (Lower Tugela)|
|NTU||Nqutu In Zululand. Now Nquthu.|
|NU||Queensburgh, New Germany, Waterfall, Hillcrest & Kloof ("Upper Highway")|
|NUD||Underberg (Himeville district)|
|NUF||Empangeni (Lower Umfolozi, Zululand)|
|NUM||Greytown & Umvoti|
|NUT||Utrecht Previously part of the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek; annexed to Natal in 1903.|
|NV||Vryheid This town was the capital of the Nieuwe Republiek, then became part of the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek. It was annexed to Natal in 1903.|
|NX||Scottburgh & Umzinto (Formerly Alexandra County.)|
|Provincial & local government|
|NPA||Natal Provincial Administration|
|NPB||Natal Parks Board|
|NBB||Natal Bantu Affairs administration boards (BAABs)|
Orange Free State
The town of Sasolburg, where oil is produced out of coal, received the very appropriate prefix OIL.
Circa 1975 to 1994
A new numbering scheme had to be introduced in the Transvaal, after the Johannesburg series exceeded the number TJ 999-999 . An alphanumeric system was introduced in this province, which allowed more permutations with fewer characters. The reason given for this change was that it was necessary because the system was computerised, which was an argument only valid for a few years. Despite this, a trend towards centralisation of vehicle registries continued, despite its inconvenience to motorists. The series comprised three letters followed by three numbers and the letter T. All number plates used black text on a yellow background, for example: BCD 123 T .
From this point onward, a Transvaal vehicle's origin could no longer be narrowed down to a specific town or city. However the first letter of the registration indicated the date of first registration of a vehicle, as the sequence grew alphabetically. However, because the Transvaal used codes that coincided with those used in other provinces, traffic officers failed to notice the T at the end, and issued fines to Cape motorists whose registrations matched those of T vehicles passing through the Cape. The use of C and N codes ought to have been barred. O was not used, since the new system avoided the use of vowels.
At this time black text on yellow background became mandatory throughout South Africa so the other three provinces also adopted the new black on yellow number plates, but kept their existing numbering systems. Example: CR 7822. At this stage government plates adopted the same system as Transvaal. Example: BCD 123 M.
Towards 1994 this numbering system for the Transvaal was rapidly running out of permutations. However, in 1994 the four provinces were dissolved and nine new provinces were created. All the new provinces apart from the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal adopted the alphanumeric system. Due to public demand at this time, different text colour on white background was also allowed. The different provinces could decide on text colour for their plates. A white background is used in all provinces although some provinces place graphics on this background relevant to their province.
Towards 2012 Gauteng Province (GP) was running out of permutations and had to adopt a new system. This system used two letters, two numbers, two letters and the province indicator GP.
Homeland number plates
Under apartheid South Africa, each of the homelands had its own department of vehicle licensing.
- YBA – Molopo, including Mafikeng (now Mahikeng) and the Bophuthatswana capital, Mmabatho.
- YBB – Odi. Previously part of Brits district, code TAZ.
- YBC – Moretele. Previously part of Pretoria district, code TP.
- YBD – Bafokeng & Tlhabane. Previously part of Rustenburg district, code TRB.
- YBE – Ditsobotla. Previously part of Lichtenburg district, code TAB.
- YBF – Mogwase. Previously part of Rustenburg district, code TRB.
- YBG – Lehurutshe. Previously part of Zeerust district, TAF.
- YBH – Tlhaping-Tlharo. Previously Kuruman district (now Kudumane), CBK.
- YBJ – Madikwe. Previously part of Zeerust district, TAF.
- YBK – Thaba Nchu. Previously part of Bloemfontein district, OB.
- YBL – Mankwe. Previously part of Rustenburg district, code TRB.
- YBM – Ganyesa. Previously part of Stellaland (Vryburg), code CCS.
- YBN – Taung. Previously CFN.
- YBX – Mabopane. Previously part of Pretoria district, code TP.
- YB – Government vehicles
- YBP – Police vehicles
- GCA – Alice Previously CFD.
- GCB – Hewu & Whittlesea. Previously CEF.
- GCC – Keiskammahoek Previously CFK.
- GCD – Middledrift Previously CDX.
- GCE – Mdantsane Previously part of the East London district, code CE.
- GCF – Peddie Previously CBW.
- GCH – Mpofu & Seymour. Previously CCH.
- GCJ – Zwelitsha, Bisho (now Bhisho) & Dimbaza. Bisho was the capital of Ciskei; today it is the capital of the Eastern Cape. Previously part of the King William's Town district, code CD.
- GC – Ciskei government vehicles
- GCP – Ciskei police vehicles
Ciskei became part of the Eastern Cape Province.
- GM – Malamulele district. Previously part of Louis Trichardt district (TAJ). Now part of Limpopo province.
- GY – Giyani district. Previously part of Louis Trichardt district (TAJ). Now part of Limpopo province.
- GR – Ritavi district. Previously part of Tzaneen district (TBC). Now part of Limpopo.
- GH – Mhala district. Previously part of White River district (TDH). Now part of Mpumalanga.
- GAZ – Gazankulu government
- LEB-1-NUMBER/S – Lebowakgomo (capital of Lebowa) & Mankweng (Thabamoopo district) Previously Pietersburg district (TAL).
- LEB-2-NUMBER/S – Schoonoord & surrounds. Previously Groblersdal district (TCA).
- LEB-3-NUMBER/S – Mahwelereng & surrounds (Mokerong District) Previously Potgietersrus district (TAN).
- LEB-4-NUMBER/S – Seshego, Moletji, Matlala & Mashashane. Previously Pietersburg district (TAL).
- LEB-5-NUMBER/S – Mapulaneng (Bushbuckridge). Previously Graskop district (TAP).
- LEB-6-NUMBER/S – Nebo & surrounds. Previously Groblersdal district (TCA).
- LEB-7-NUMBER/S – Tzaneen & Bolobedu surrounds. Previously TBC)
- LEB-8-NUMBER/S – Tzaneen & Lenyenye (Naphuno). Previously TBC.
- LEB-9-NUMBER/S – Praktiseer & surrounds. Previously Lydenburg district (TAE).
- LEB-10-NUMBER/S – Botlokwa & Sekgosese. Previously Pietersburg district (TAL).
- LEB-11-NUMBER/SO – Bochum & surrounds. Previously Pietersburg district (TAL).
- LEB-13-NUMBER/S – Phalaborwa. Previously Graskop district (TAP).
- LG – Lebowa government
- LP – Lebowa police
Lebowa became part of Limpopo Province.
- OBW – private vehicles
- WR – government vehicles
- WRP – police vehicles
- KNK – KwaMhlanga
- KNE – Enkangala
- KNA – Siyabuswa
- KNB – Kwaggafontein
- KNF – Vaalbank (Libangeni)
- KNG – KwaNdebele government
- KNP – KwaNdebele police
KwaNdebele became part of Mpumalanga province.
- XA – Umtata Transkei capital. Today Mthatha, Eastern Cape. Previously CCY.
- XAA – Nqamakwe Previously CDE.
- XAB – Tabankulu Previously CDR.
- XAC – Tsomo Previously CFF.
- XAD – Xhora & Elliotdale. Previously CDG. Now Xora.
- XAE – Mqanduli Previously CDH.
- XAF – Bizana Now Mbizana. Previously CDJ.
- XAG – Gatyana Formerly Flagstaff, CDK.
- XAH – Siphaqeni Formerly Willowvale, CDN.
- XB – Gcuwa (Butterworth district) Previously CCV.
- XC – Lusikisiki Previously CDO.
- XD – Cofimvaba Previously CDM.
- XE – Engcobo Now Ngcobo. Previously CDB.
- XF – Umzimvubu & Port St Johns. Previously CDF.
- XH – Umzimkulu Now Umzimkhulu. Previously CDP; since 2006 part of KwaZulu-Natal, code NMZ.
- XJ – Maxesibeni, previously Mount Ayliff, code CDW.
- XK – KwaBhaca & Mount Frere. Previously CDS.
- XL – Maloti New district at the foot of the Drakensberg range, home to many Sotho-speakers.
- XR – Cacadu (Lady Frere) Previously Glen Grey district, code CAX.
- XN – Idutywa Previously CDC. Now Dutywa.
- XO – Tsolo Previously CFE.
- XS – Xalanga, including Cala (previously CCZ).
- XT – Herschel Previously CBD.
- XU – Libode Previously CDU.
- XV – Qumbu Previously CDV.
- XW – Mount Fletcher. Previously CDT.
- XY – Centane. Previously Kentani, code CCD.
- XZ – Ngqeleni Previously CDY.
- XG – Transkei government
- XGA – Agriculture & Forestry Department
- XGC – Commerce, Industry & Tourism Department
- XGH – Health & Welfare Department
- XGL – Local Government & Land Tenure Department
- XGW – Works & Energy Department
- XM – Transkei army
- XP – Transkei police
- XPT – Transkei traffic police
- XRT – Transkei Road Transport Service
- VM – Government vehicles
- VDF – Defence Force
- VP – Police
- VTA – Traffic administration
Venda became part of Limpopo Province.
Zululand / KwaZulu
- ZG – Government
- ZK – Paramount Chief
- ZP – Police
- Z – private vehicles
KwaZulu was created to encompass the tribal territories of both Natal and Zululand, and also fell under the Paramount Chief (today the King) of the amaZulu.
- "Intelligent Number Plates Postponed in South Africa". 3 June 2010. Archived from the original on 16 May 2013.
- "CA number plates will soon become CAA". Western Cape Government. 8 April 2019. Archived from the original on 16 May 2019. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
- North West first with new plates
- Media related to License plates of South Africa at Wikimedia Commons