The map above shows the various license, vehicle registration and number plate designs across Europe. But it’s not just the designs that different, some plates actually contain some useful information such as:
Reddit user obries39 comments for Ireland that:
Not sure if other licence plates give readable information about the registration, but in Ireland the first two numbers tell you the year the car was registered (16 = 2016), the third number tells you what half of the year (1 = first half), the letters tell you what county it was registered in (D = Dublin), and the last set of numbers yells you what number on the list of registrations it is.
In Turkish plates first two numbers would indicate the municipality it was registered in, 34 for İstanbul 35 for İzmir 42 for Konya etc
Panceltic & crikeyboy comment that:
The British plates work similarly. Y is Yorkshire and 53 is the second half of 2003.
The second letter (R) refers to a specific DVLA office too, so this one is Sheffield
QuastQuan comments that:
In Germany the first group of 1, 2 or 3 letters left from the label (in this map CUX for Cuxhaven) tell you in which town or district the car is registered. The second group of letters (1 or 2) are random, so are the (1 – 4) digits in the end. Normally you can choose the letters and digits, some combinations will normally not be issued, like SS, KZ, AC-AB (AC for Aachen).
In some areas a city and a district share the same first letter(s), like Munich City and District. M + 2 letters and 4 digits is Munich City, all other combinations are Munich district.
Electric cars have an E added after the digits, cars older than 30 years can have a H after the digits, both for tax and additional law reasons.
AFAIK the regulations in some European countries are similar, like Austria, Switzerland, Italy and former Yugoslavian countries, the first one or two letters tell you where the car is registered.
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