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 ??|
|Brandenburg||CA, FRW, KY, NP, SEE, SFB, SRB, WK||18 March 2013|
|BER, EW, FOR, GUB, SPB||19 March 2013|
|FI||2 April 2013|
|Hessen||BID, BÜD, DI, GN, HOG, SLÜ, USI, WEL, WOH||2 January 2013|
|Mecklenburg-Vorpommern||RÜG||2 February 2013|
|ANK, GW, PW, SBG, UEM, WLG||14 March 2013|
|GMN, NVP, RDG||15 March 2013|
|AT, BÜZ, DBR, DM, GÜ, 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|
|Sachsen||AE, ANA, ASZ, AU, BED, BIW, BNA, DL, DW, DZ, EB, FLÖ, FTL, GC, GHA, GRH, GRM, HC, HOT, HY, KM, LÖB, MAB, MEK, MTL, MW, NOL, NY, OVL, OZ, PL, RC, RG, RIE, RL, SEB, STL, SZB, TG, TO, WDA, WSW, WUR, ZI, ZP||9 November 2012|
|Sachsen-Anhalt||ASL, AZE, BBG, BÖ, BRG, BTF, EIL, GA, GHC, GNT, HBS, HDL, HET, HHM, HV, JE, KLZ, KÖT, MER, ML, MQ, NEB, NMB, OBG, OC, OK, QFT, QLB, RSL, SBK, SFT, SGH, WMS, WR, WSF, WZL, ZE, ZZ||27 November 2012|
|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.