When travellers needed double-plating


It wasn’t long after Man had his first automobiles that he wanted to explore outside his own territory with his new-found freedom of movement.    But governments being what governments are, they soon found ways of making some money at border crossings.   To circumvent the delays and costs of formally importing their car – even temporarily – to another country,  the idea of a carnet de passage was

(B 1899-1906)_228_ & (NL)_Z-203

1899-1906 Belgian plate 228 and Dutch plate Z-203 seen on a very early car which probably lived near the two countries’ border, so needed registering in both places, until the carnet system was devised.   228 close-up, under.

(B 1899-1906)_228_cu & (NL)_Z-203.vintage car.anon


established, which guaranteed payment of import duty to the visited country, if the vehicle entered their land, but didn’t leave it, possibly having been sold to a local buyer.    The owner had to deposit the due duty with a bank in his home country and the bank (or, later,  national motoring associations) issued the carnet document, which was a promissory note to the foreign Customs-Zoll-Douane, should the vehicle not be officially exited from their territory.   However if the car was documented by validating the carnet on exit, no taxes were payable and the beginning of popular motoring tourism was about to open.

Many countries did not participate in the early conferences which then took place to create a protocol for international border-crossing, and tourists from those non-members who still wished to go touring, had to re-register their vehicles in to the visited country at the port of entry .

Placamundi has published a detailed history of the history of this interesting period, which can usually be found on RPWO, with a set of their other learned ‘booklets’ on specific historical matters.     Right now (July 2017) website alterations prevent their display.

Placamundi International Identification Ovals


So many fine pictures have come to light in the great albums of Karel Stoel, and from other member sources.       The photos are between 50 and 80 years old, and were taken on pretty basic cameras, so we have to tolerate less quality than we expect today!

See how many plates (and cars!) you can recognise:

(MC 28-50)_MC-1818_US car.1947JP

(S 06-72).Stockholm city_A 34351+KB 292(USA)_vb1947JP

(CDN-BC 50)_24-680_vb1950JP

(USA-Ohio 48)_4048-C_car in Sweden.vb43311KS

(I)(timp 35-59)(51)_EE 20951_f_Chev. vb123KS

(USA)(NH 35-36)_54-087+308560(q)_US car.vbKS

308560 above is an oddity – Swedish make-up etc. – but, numerals only???


(USA-Wis)_9 85432+R-8895(NL)_BuickEight,vbRK


(I)(timp 35-59)(50s)_EE 21885_f_(+USA)_UScar.vbi051KS

(I)(timp 35-59)(48)_EE 16638_f_(+48Arizona AA3)_Ford Sedan.vb p1KS.

(I)(timp 35-59)(48)_EE 16342_f_(+NH48)_vb1940sJP

(I)(timp 35-59)(39)_EE 3011_f_(+NH 39)_UScar.vbKS

(I)(timp 29-35)(30s)_EE 5230_r_(+NC33).vbp1KS.

(GB)(timp 54-56)(AA)_QF 5412_(Aus Vic)_Vespa mc.vbKS

(GB)(timp 54-56)(AA 56)_QF 1096_(+BC56)_Chev.vbKS

(GB)(timp 51-54)(AA)_QE 1116_(+Ont.)_UScar.vbKS


(GB)(timp 49-57)(RAC 53)_QD 7721_f2_1953 Monte Rally_Holden.TheAuto.VB

The Australian Holden above doesn’t really count, but as the team came over from the other side of the world, they get a free pass………

(GB)(timp 49-57)(RAC 49m)_QD 366_(+PanamaCZ49)_BuickEight.vbCZ40KS

Possibly a young spotter placed these Canal Zone tags on a suitable car for the photo….


(GB)(timp 47-51)(AA)_QB 4032_(+ 6104BZ)_Beetle.vbKS

(GB)(timp 31-49)(RAC)_QC 902_UScar.vbKS

(GB)(timp 31-49)(RAC 48c)_QC 8825_(+Tangiers)_Standard 14.vbJP

(GB)(timp 31-49)(RAC 48)_QC 9425_(+Mich.48)_UScar.vbKS

(GB)(timp 31-49)(RAC 48)_QC 8277_(+Utah.48)_UScar.vbKS

(GB)(timp 31-49)(RAC 48)_QC 7995_(+Ct.48)_UScar.vbKS

(GB)(timp 31-49)(RAC 39)_QC 7119_(+Que.39)_vbJP

(GB)(timp 51-54)(AA 54)_QE 4872(+BC54)_vbKS


(GB)(timp 31-49)(RAC 30s)_QC 1585_UScar.vbKS

(GB)(timp 31-49)(RAC 30s)_QC 363_(+BRAZIL 2 73 08.BL

(F)(timp 33-55)(1951).Cherbourg_1530-TT 1H_(+Nebraska51)_UScar.jecKS

(F)(timp 33-55)(1951).Cherbourg_1440-TT 1H_& Calif-Plate_UScar.jecKS

(F)(timp 33-55)(1949).Paris_270 TT 9X+P1245(EL)_UScar.vb17KS

(F)(timp 33-55)(1949).Marseille_1477-TT 9S_f_+Connecticut vty._jecKS

(F)(timp 33-55)(1939).Marseille_995 TT 9S_(+Maryland 1939-40)_UScar.jecKS

(F)(timp 33-55)(1934).LeHavre_26 TT 4 F+P636(EL)_vb19KS

(D)(temp 07-50)(31-32).Bremerhaven_01515+Illinois1931_vbKS

(A 30-38).Vienna_A 2020_overland Steyr.vbKS

This Austrian Steyr car must win the prize for its 1930s expedition to the Far East!     China and Japan plates were carried, plus two series of Austrian, A 2020 & T 15001.   The car still exists in an Austrian museum!






2 Responses to When travellers needed double-plating

  1. richardpd says:

    Some interesting combinations of plates.

    I was wondering if 308560 was a Belgian 1920s-50s series.

  2. Indeed a possibility, Richard, and the 300,000-run was during the 30’s-40’s, so chronologically credible. The font is not Belgian to my eye, and the latter 3 numerals should be lightly spaced away from the leading numerals – but this plate could have been made up in Sweden for some reason beyond us……. Unfortunately, we cannot judge whether the digits were red on the photo of 308560 – that would be more Belgian evidence.

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