Old German district codes in use again

June 15, 2013

Since November 2012, we’ve seen new German number plates with long-forgotten district codes, not seen on the road for 20 years or more. These are codes which were abolished when local government was reorganised. West Germany merged many small districts in the 1970s; in former East Germany the same happened from 1993 onwards. The original number plates remained valid, but disappeared rapidly with the introduction in 1997 of tax-reduced “H” plates for historic vehicles, to the great sorrow of nostalgic plate-spotters like myself.

Under the 2012 law, each local government (Landkreis or district) can decide whether it wants to reintroduce the codes that were formerly issued on its territory.  The state (Bundesland) sends all requests from its districts to the federal government in Berlin. Once Berlin has approved the request, a revived old code becomes optional in the current district where the old district (or the major part thereof) was located. For example, a resident of Vogtlandkreis in Saxony can choose either the current code V or (for an extra fee) any of the old codes AE, OVL, PL and RC.  Of course the plates have to be in the current “FE” style of lettering. The classic 1956-2000 “DIN” style is not coming back.

The Europlate and AKS newsletters have covered the German reform in detail, so here I just list the old codes reissued so far, and when each code became available. I’ve grouped the codes by Bundesland to help plate-spotters watch out for interesting plates in the part of Germany they are touring. This also highlights the contrast between, on one hand, the states in eastern Germany that chose to reintroduce nearly everything, and on the other hand those where only a few districts have opted to allow the abolished codes, often after lengthy public debates.  Bavaria (Bayern) has yet to decide which, if any, old codes to revive.

state reissued old codes available from
Baden-Württemberg BCH, GD, HCH, LEO 25 February 2013
Bayern     to be announced           July 2013 ??        
Berlin     none  
Bremen     none  
Brandenburg CA, FRW, KY, NP, SEE, SFB, SRB, WK 18 March 2013
BER, EW, FOR, GUB, SPB 19 March 2013
FI 2 April 2013
Hamburg      none  
Hessen BID, BÜD, DI, GN, HOG, SLÜ, USI, WEL, WOH 2 January 2013
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern RÜG 2 February 2013
ANK, GW, PW, SBG, UEMWLG   14 March 2013
GMN, NVP, RDG 15 March 2013
AT, BÜZ, DBR, DM, , MC, MST, MÜR, NZ, RM, ROS, TET, WRN 18 March 2013
GDB, GVM, WIS 2 April 2013
Niedersachsen ALF, BRL, BRV, CLZ, DUD, EIN, GAN, HMÜ, NOR, RI 15 November 2012
Nordrhein-Westfalen BLB, CAS, GLA 13 November 2012
WAT, WIT 14 November 2012
JÜL 19 November 2012
LÜN 24 November 2012
DIN, LP, MO 3 December 2012
WAN 12 December 2012
AH, BOH 1 February 2013
SLE 20 February 2013
Rheinland-Pfalz PRÜ, ZEL 13 November 2012
BIN, GOA 14 November 2012
SAB 19 November 2012
BKS 26 November 2012
MY 6 May 2013
Saarland       none  
Schleswig-Holstein ECK 15 November 2012
Thüringen APD, ARN, ART, EIS, HIG, IL, LBS, LSZ, MGN, MHL, NH, PN, RU, SCZ, SDH, SLN, SLZ, SRO, WBS, ZR   29 November 2012

My sources are Wikipedia,  http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_aller_Kfz-Kennzeichen_der_Bundesrepublik_Deutschland    and Reiko Pflug’s excellent web site   http://www.kennzeichen-guide.de/

As an example here’s a new PRÜ plate, snapped last week in Prüm, a town that lost its status as a district capital already in 1969.


For comparison, a “real” PRÜ plate from 1969 or older, on an old tractor that I saw six years ago in the village of Feuerscheid.

D_07_Feuerscheid1 D_07_Feuerscheid2

Alexander Kavka


Hisrtoric duty-free export issues from Europe

March 20, 2013

Most European countries have a special plate system for vehicles bought within their jurisdiction, but which are intended for permanent export.     These are bought free of local taxes, which are charged when they reach their destination country.    Germany and France were the first to formalise such systems and here are some examples from the 1960s and on from round Europe.

FRANCE.   TT=Titulaire Temporaire or Transit Temporaire??    73 is from Savoie, seen in Ste. Maxime circa 2005, and seems oddly old for that time, as this series ran 1955-84.  False plate?       Brumby archive

FRANCE. Export.    TT=Titulaire Temporaire or Transit Temporaire??     73 is from Savoie, seen in Ste. Maxime (83-Var) circa 2005, and seems oddly old for that time, as this series ran 1955-84.  A false plate?               Brumby archive

GERMANY - Export Customs (Zoll) oval plate .   This once-common Z-plate series was issued between 1951 & 1988 as tend of thousands of German cars were collected for export.  818 Z-9348 was seen in London in 1960. Brumby archive

GERMANY – Export Customs (Zoll) oval plate . This once-common Z-plate series was issued between 1951 & 1988 as tens of thousands of German cars were collected for export.     818 Z-9348 was seen in London in 1960 prior to its ultimate export to Argentina (RA).               Brumby archive

On its way to the Central African Republic, 9 TT 10 first enjoys a drive along the Promenade des Anglais in 1964 Nice.          Brumby archive

FRANCE   TT.   On its way to the Central African Republic, Pontiac Bonneville    9 TT 10 first enjoys a drive along the Promenade des Anglais in 1964 Nice.    10= département of Aube, which seemed not to register many of this category!   Brumby archive

QL 1052 - Peugeot 404L bought in London 1969, for export to Canada.  (Brumby archive/car)

GB    Foreign brand Export.   QL 1052 – Peugeot 404L bought in London 1969, for export to Canada.    (In fact this car never left, and was re-registered with a normal mark, GGN 157 J.)        (Brumby archive/car)

Italian 1964 Export 'EE'   Brumby archive

ITALY   1964 Export ‘EE‘                                                                         Brumby archive

A  Danish export Volvo 245 destined for Canada, seen in London 1964.   Brumby archive

DENMARK.   An export Volvo destined for Canada, seen in London 1964.   The red Copenhagen  ‘K‘ with the white lining indicates temporary validity.              Brumby archive

Swedish export Volvo from Gothenburg (O) valid during 1964, seen in London.   Brumby archive

SWEDEN – export Volvo from Gothenburg (O) valid during 1964, seen in London.                  Brumby archive

FINLAND Export     Brumby archive

FINLAND  1994 Export duty-free.      The letter is serial, not a regional code.                             Brumby archive

Switzerland.   1975 Export  Brumby archive

SWITZERLAND. 1975 Export Vaud 6018 Z.   Z=tax unpaid.       Brumby archive

Luxembourg 1978 Export 616.     Brumby archive

LUXEMBOURG – 1978 Export 616.                    Brumby archive

Spain -  Export 2004 T 4361 BBC       Brumby archive

SPAIN – Export 2004 T 4361 BBC , expiring October 2004.                         Brumby archive

Belgium - some early export plates and others.  Brumby archive

BELGIUM – some early Export plates and others.   Note colour changes.   Brumby archive

Monaco - 1979 Export in red on white - TT 51.   Brumby archive

MONACO – 1979 Export in red on white – TT 51.      Brumby archive

Here is a strange sighting, 27 years later, in Monte Carlo…

Monaco TT 51 Export again, in the later style reflective etc.  Brumby archive

MONACO TT 51 Export again, in the later style reflective etc.    Front plate at upper right, carries no legend.            Brumby archive

Lichtenstein - Export 1963 - FL 9043 Z.  Brumby archive

Liechtenstein – Export 1963 – FL 9043 Z in London.   Z means tax unpaid.     Brumby archive

San Marino - Export 1992.  Thornley album

SAN MARINOExport 1992.              Thornley album

Any more, readers????

2012 – German Car rental in Paris

March 13, 2013

I hope this is of some kind of interest for this Blog –  last year from January to November 2012, I noted the registration of the many German rental cars that visit the streets of Paris.

Here is an overview of the regions and sequences used by the main German rental-car companies:

Hansestadt Hamburg

This Lander uses particular sequences in the following order

1- HH-Bx-8xxx

Overall sequence from HH-BJ 8532 to HH-CI 8795 (not observed from BA to BI then CC to CF and CH)
(Numerical sequence observed from 8033 to 8999)
1 – HH-Ox-7xxx

HH-OA 7172 to HH-OT-7726 (not observed OC to OF OH to OJ, OK, ON, OQ and OR) (Numerical sequence observed from 7019 to 7726).

Observation from HH-OA-7172, HH-OB 7019 then HH-OG 7xxx, HH-OI 7620 to HH-OL 7xxx, HH-OM 7421 then HH-OO 7xxx, OP 7xxxx & HH-OS 7xxx, OT 7726

3 – HH-Px-7xxx (May be the next sequence)

One observation HH-PE-7093


Düren uses two sequences in this order

1- DN-Hx-xxxx

Overall sequence from DN HO 3746 to DN-HZ 8852 (all series DN-HO to HZ-observed) (numerical sequence observed from 10xx to 9xxx)

2- DN-AA-xxxx (Must be the next sequence) One observation DN-AA 7032


Only one sequence observed for Wiesbaden

Overall sequence from WI-AG 8889 to WI-AK 8068 (all series observed from WI-AG to AK) (numerical sequence observed from 1791 to 9694)


München’s area seems to have several sequences at the same time, no specific order

M-OA to M-OJ (all series M-OA to OJ observed) (numerical sequence observed in 10xx 9xxx)

M-GA 5042 to M-GD 6556 (all series observed from M-GA to M-GD) (numerical sequence observed from 50xx to 6xxx)

M-AB to M-AG 2912 (not observed AD and AE) (numerical sequence observed from 4226 to 6556)


Only one sequence observed  from NE-RQ 4573 to 5365


Only one sequence observed from BN-P 744 to BN-P 3168

All photos come from Bruno Vernhes’ collection


Hansestadt Hamburg Europcar HH-Ox-7xxx sequence

Hansestadt Hamburg Europcar HH-Bx-8xxx sequence

Hansestadt Hamburg Europcar HH-Cx-8xxx sequence


Düren DN-Hx-xxxx sequence

Mûnchen M-Gx-xxxx sequence

Bonn BN-P-xxx and xxxx sequence

Neuss NE-RQ-xxxx sequence

Greece in the 1950s

February 2, 2013

Young Pemberton collared two odd Greeks on celluloid, during his forays into the capital during the days of rationing.    A 1950s American Buick Eight convertible  parked in Upper Regent Street in London bears a baffling, plain,  T 38  plate, unlike anything we know.   John  was certain it was Greek.

Was it a Thessaloniki Port tourist entry plate?

May 31, 2019   Yes – this transpired to be just that, and our Stoel albums provided another example from the same period – T 62, carried by a 1949-ish Hillman Minx.

Any ideas about this 'Greek'?

Any ideas about this ‘Greek’?                JP archive  

May 31, 2019   Yes – this transpired to be just that, and our Stoel albums provided another example from the same period – T 62, carried by a 1949-ish Hillman Minx.

(GR)(timp 14-54)_T 62_r_HillmanMinx.plKS(GR)(timp 14-54)_T 62_f_HillmanMinx.plKS

Well – there’s another series we had not known of!     Thessalonika Temporary Importation registration, free of duty.



A Morris Oxford MO was the choice of transport for this 1940’s-era British diplomat in Athens, seen on leave in UK.     Embassies were not coded in those times.

CD 277 on leave from Athens. in Britain, circa 1949-50.

CD 277 on leave from Athens. in Britain, circa 1949-50. Pemberton archive


Below; Not many years later, in about 1958, the rare Greek diplomatic was photographed in Earls Court by VB.    Also on a Morris Oxford, but the later, Farina-designed 1960s version.

A Farina-designed Morris Oxford from Athens embassy, in about 1958. VB archive.

A Farina-designed Morris Oxford from GB Athens embassy, in about 1958.           VB archive.

The 56 on these plates gave the year of their first issue only.   56 continued to be issued until they were replaced in 1969 with similar (green) plates, but now showing ‘69‘.   This ran until about 2011, still marked ‘69‘!    So the date meant nothing.

The DS transliteration of the Greek dip. plates abbreviates ‘Diplomatikos Somos‘ or ‘Diplomatic Body‘.   Greeks are not keen to use Latin-based words (Corps), when they have their own, older language!

At last, an attractive new turquoise plate design has replaced the 1969 series:

The latest Greek CD.

The latest Greek CD.

More European ancients (Part 2)

January 26, 2013

Some more of John Pemberton’s photos of European plates seen in postwar Britain…..

Can anyone throw light on the Polish Diplomatic (Chrysler Airflow?)  reg. B 00069(?)  (pictures 3 & 4)

And T 38, Picture 7, which John has identified as Greek – but is it???

(TR)_H 252_JPvb

An American Nash from Adapazari, Turkey in 1950s London, snapped by J. Pemberton.


(PL)_B-C 0069_JP1940svb

(PL)_B-C 0069_cu_JP1940svb


2340 – The window displays a ‘Visitor to Britain’ flag on this Monegasque unidentified car, shot by John Pemberton c.1950.


R is the code for Reykjavik, Iceland, on a Jeep Waggoneer, early 1950s. Pemberton archive

(GR)(0tax)_T 38_jp1940vb

IF this T 38 is a Greek plate, as John believes, might it be a Thessaloniki temporary importation customs registration?       Seen Upper Regent Street, London circa 1950.

(F2b)(28-50)(exp)_373-TT 8H_JPc1940vb

373-TT 8H – An American Packard visiting France temporarily in the 1948 has been given a set of Temporary Transit plates at the port of entry – H for Cherbourg, 8 for 1948 (or 1938).       This series ran from 1933-1955.   Very possibly, the car also carried it’s original American plate at the rear, as was the habit of the time.    Pemberton archive

(F2b)(28-50)_4515 RQ 1_JPvb

4515 RQ 1. A Citroen Light 15 from Departement of Ain (1), seen in London in the early 1950s. This series started in April 1950, but using only 3 serial numbers – this has four – 4515 – why?                  Pemberton archive

(F2b)(28-50)_2028 QJ 5_JPvb

2028 QJ 5 – 5 was from Hautes-Alpes (Gap) from 1950 to August 1951, when 05 replaced the single 5. This plate has a four-serial registration 2028 , though three numerals were the norm until June 1965…… (Francoplaque?) Pemberton

(F2b)(28-50)_105 RL 8_JPvb

8 = Ardennes, from the 1950 series.

(F)_9709 YD_JPvb

9709 YD on an unidentified convertible car is thought to be French, but if so, which series??                                                            Pemberton


346148, a late example of the Belgian series which issued from 1926 to 1953.

(A)_S 5.320_JPvb

S 5.320 – Austrian Morris Minor from Music City, Salzburg.            Pemberton

That’s all of the Pemberton European pictures.      A few Africans,  Middle Easterners and South Americans to come before we close his fortunately-found album.    Thanks, John!

Swiss tourists in 1940s Britain

January 25, 2013

The journey from the Alps to England in the 1930s/40s would have been long and tedious – and all the more so in this selection of vehicles which Monsieur Pemberton snapped in those uncomfortable times.      I would have chosen the Citroen, for my voyage…….

ZG 239 motorcycle from Zug in Oxford 1940s, see by John Pemberton

ZG 239 motorcycle from Zug in Oxford 1940s,      seen by John Pemberton

Berne Citroen Light Fifteen, 1940s London.   JP

BE 4646 – Berne Citroen Light Fifteen, 1940s London. JP

A real old-timer - possibly 1938 in Oxford.A real Genevan old-timer, maybe American make – possibly 1938 in Oxford.

British Ford Eight - noisy, slow and bumpy.

British Ford Eight from St. Gallen – noisy, slow and bumpy journey to London??          Pemberton archive.

Trieste 1950

January 22, 2013

Another of John Pemberton’s  fine sightings in the late 1940s or early 1950s was this Austin A70 Hereford from the Allies-administered territory of Trieste.     A big, expensive car of the time, it was probably the private car of one of the senior British military administrators, who shared the duties with the USA until the sector was returned to Italy in 1954.

Trieste international zone seen in Britain c. 1950.  Austin A70 reg. TS 10333.

Trieste international zone seen in Britain c. 1950. Austin A70 reg. TS 10333.

Two other Italian sightings in Britain, immediately post-war, it is thought.  SV 4740 (Savona).


and MI 94279, a Fiat Topolino with a low Milan number….

Fiat 500 'Mouse' cabriolet behind two Swedish cars in Park Lane, London, early 1940s.

Fiat 500 ‘Mouse’ cabriolet behind two Swedish cars in Park Lane, London, early 1940s.

Unknown African and French IT plates

September 29, 2012

In the 1970s, a much-travelled pal of mine, Murray Bailey, photographed this yellow on green IT plate 008-IT-22, but he forgets where, only that it was in West Africa.       It may be Senegal, but confirmation welcomed!     What a shame the moped behind is not in full picture, to give us a clue…

Senegal – or elsewhere??

About 1963, I saw this American car in London, IT 0623.    It could have been from any of the overseas French territories of the period – but which??

IT=Importation Temporaire

Unidentified temporary Importation plate for a French territory-1960We used to think that all the green IT plates we  saw were French Diplomatics, and only learned much later that they were given out to any category of foreigner who was in a country temporarily (possibly with the vehicle let in without payment of import taxes).    Aid personnel and non-diplomatic embassy staff were among the groups registered so.




If they really were diplomats or consular officials, they would carry a separate oval plate or even have the letters CD or CC made into their IT plate.       (Were the French IT plates coded for the users’ country of origin, then

French Temporary Import of Diplomatic vehicle, in Paris, 1960s.    The zeroes probably indicate the ambassadorial car…  The boot/trunk  label on this American-made 1950s Ford Sedan tells us that this was a manual gearbox car with an optional overdrive, before automatic transmission became standard on all US cars.

A non-diplomatic temporary importation to France, in  1964 London, on a then-ubiquitous Renault 4L.

And finally, just for interest….

The R-R Silver Shadow of the British Ambassador in Paris 1970s.

All the Same?

September 27, 2012

Is it just me, or is the influence of  Herr Utsch* and the computer slowly creating a homogeneous plate system?    Against the wishes of their voters, these countries have removed the regional codes and given new vehicles a soulless computerised tag, some of which are almost identical.

The ex-Soviet  ‘stans have other examples of lookalike plates, so thank goodness they all include the country codes within the new plates.


Here we compare current plates issued  by Italy, France, French Guiana and Albania.   No much difference, is there?



French Guiana

French Guiana





*  The German Utsch company has devised a popularly-received design-and-build licence-plate package for the many countries which are modernising their various national departments and systems, but which  know little about the complexities of modern motor vehicle registration.    The Utsch system donates a country such as Zimbabwe a plate-stamping machine and some rolls of alloy sheet which they ally with various colours of 3M adhesive nylon(?)  tape.    Subsequent shipments of the consumable metal and plastic have to be paid for, of course, and that is how Utsch eventually make some money from the idea.      I suspect that actually, the German government pay for the original machine and material for the first few plates, and give them by way of international aid to the recipient states.    

I hear that the privilege of supplying Zim with the new style replacement plates was given to Robert Mugabe’s sister, as a sure-fire way of her making loads of dough.    Every vehicle in the country had to change plates within six months, or very severe penalties ensued.     When she ran out of the sample sheets, she hadn’t kept enough pocket-money  to pay for the next supply of materials, and so the diktat that everybody must change plates by a certain date, melted away in the confusion which is Africa.       Later she must have borrowed some more money from someone – or came by some more aid from a generous donor – China is courting Zimbabwe for its minerals –  and the system has recommenced.

The thing I don’t understand is that Utsch must have made the system security watertight , so that for example, duplicates could not be made and sold under the counter.    That would not suit many – or most – of the world’s developing nations’  Transport Ministers and senior personnel.    Vehicle licencing has always been a marvellous cash cow for the head of department given the job – but ‘poor’ people are by necessity, exceedingly inventive, and can usually find a way to make a small profit, even from a highly efficient German scheme!

Incidentally, what a waste of the unfortunate citizens’ money, to force re-plating for no good reason……