When travellers needed double-plating

July 7, 2017


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!





Diplomatic fantasies

June 18, 2013

A little story from a man and his car, who obviously would like to be seen as a diplomat…..

He used this Mercedes 200 in Vienna for some weeks in December 2012.
F Diplo unklar (2) 2012-12-17
A French insurance sticker in the windshield to check the license number for verification by police brought to light a genuine current French registration, but a regular series – nothing diplomatic.

He had had his French plates re-made, in the Portuguese diplomatic style.

In 2008 the same car (look at the CD-Sticker, the screws and the small, black, square element) was seen on same place in Vienna with this strange plate:
F + P Diplo Wien 4., Dez. 2008
In 2008 it was also seen in Paris (photo by Francoplaque I think) and we had it in our newsletter.       It was then assumed to be an old Portuguese registration pimped up to resemble French-looking diplomatic plates.     And the car was originally, like the driver, from Portugal as I have found out since.

2013 – And now the current display: after new police investigations (it became a little hotter) the car once again has been sighted in Vienna in April 2013 with the original French normal plates, the owner having removed his oval CD claim to fame!
F echte Kz. 2013-05-19 (2)

It has probably now returned to Paris again.      Perhaps he plays out there his diplomatic illusions…

From PlatePeter

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????

Mixed Europeans Part 2

March 4, 2013

Here are some of the more normal photos from John Pemberton’s album, showing us some early post-war European plates, with their massive international ovals on display.    The French 373-TT 8H is a rare one.

The Polish diplomatic is a very peculiar one – have any bloggers any thoughts on B-00069??  SZYMON has clarified this oddity with his reply below and this web page.   Thanks, Szymon!

Our Turkey/Greece/Cyprus specialist Pieter Lommerse will be happy to see the old Turk from Adapazari (first picture)

(TR)_H.252_cu_JPvb (TR)_H 252_JPvb




(GR)(0tax)_T 38_jp1940vb

T 38 above is given by John Pemberton as Greek, but is not like known Greek types?       However, could it be a 1940s Thessalonika customs-issued temporary importation plate???         BUSES: Beyond the Buick, going north on Upper Regent Street,  are two pre-war AEC double-deckers of London Transport’s STL class.         Pemberton archive

(PL)_B-C 0069_JP1940svb

B-00069  —  We were baffled by this plate, which claims to be a Polish Diplomatic, yet is nothing like anything seen before. Taken in 1940s London by John Pemberton, and carried on a 1938-1946-ish American car (a Lincoln-Zephyr V12?), an identification one day will be of considerable interest…….   Feb. 2014 –  Finally we have the answer via ‘Szymon’      The ‘B’  WAS for diplomats’ (cars) in 1940s Poland !     B-00069 is a Polish diplomatic plate from 1946. First letter A or B meant passenger car, numbers 00001-00999 were reserved for diplomatic purporses:
00001-00299 – CD cars and motorcycles
00300-00399 – CC cars and motorcycles
00400-00799 – embassy staff cars and motorcycles, CD/CC trucks
00800-00999 – not used                                                                                                   

B-00069 – For more information from the Polish Club, go to 


(PL)_B-C 0069_cu_JP1940svb

A close-up of the strange Polish CD – with a narrow font similar to some Spanish plates of later years…….B-00069.  A and B  were for diplomat’s cars

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

In the 1928 to 1950 French system, the suffix numeral(s) (5 here) indicated the tens of thousands.    Thus this registration can read  QJ 52028 and QJ was the code for Sarthe (Le Mans) until 1950, when the département  code 72 replaced letter-codes with the new, numerically-suffixed, département series.     Is this  a Renault?     Seen on the seafront at Hastings soon after the war.         John Pemberton archive c. 1938

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

373-TT 8 H – Packard?     A white-on-red temporary import of a used car to France in 1938 or 1948*.   The 8 signified the year of entry and the H, the port of entry – in this case, H = Cherbourg, the principal French port for the transatlantic liners of the age.    Many wealthy Americans travelled with their grand cars before the era of car rental.
*Thus a ‘3’ suffix could have marked a registration in 1933, 1943 or 1953!             This French temporary series was issued between 1933 and 1955 and apparently could also be used for the temporary registration of new vehicles purchased in France for  imminent export elsewhere.

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

105 RL 8 (F)  –  from 1928-1950, RL was among the codes for Paris.   The 8 suffix represents the ten-thousands in the serial number – hence this  American car could be seen as RL 80105.      Pemberton in Oxford 1947-ish.

(F)_9709 YD_JPvb

1928-50 France srs. YA-YD=Département of Seine-et-Oise(later suffix 78), in London, 1940s.       Soon, at 9999 YD, a suffix 1 would be added, giving 1234 YD 1. Citroen Light 15 Decapotable?

(A)_S 5.320_JPvb

S 5.320 (Austrian 1947-89 series.) – A Morris Minor from Salzburg circa 1951. Pemberton archive


346 148 (B) – 1926-1953 Belgium.    Usually of porcelain, in red-on-white with the last three numerals preceded by a black symbol (see below) on the rear plates – the front being supplied by the owners in varying styles.

Belgium's 1925-63 national seal borne on the rear, official plate.     Brumby archive

Belgium’s 1925-53 national seal borne on the rear, official plate, using the French and Flemish names for the country.           Brumby archive


West Africa – Cameroons

February 7, 2013
This Renault 750 from the (French) Trusteeship of the Cameroons was an unusual sight in the 1950 Britain, and probably France, too. 3703 C 2 carries the correct 1932-1954 oval and uses the French-designed  registration format.   John Pemberton archive.

This Renault 750 from the (French) Trusteeship of the Cameroons was an unusual sight in 1951 Britain, and probably France, too.    3703 C 2 carries the correct 1932-1960 oval TC and uses the original French-designed registration format.       John Pemberton archive.


c. 1962     The British Cameroons, until  then part of British Nigeria,  amalgamated with the French Trusteeship in 1961, to form the new,  independent country of  Republique Unie de Cameroun.     For a while, it seems that cars from both the former Cameroons  used the long-lived TC oval, as witness CM 2938, from the British sector, in London’s Bayswater during the early 1960s, on a Ford 105E Anglia.      The ‘ TC ‘ had been overpainted on a formally pressed ‘ WAN ‘  oval and this example was the only one ever seen in UK – (unless YOU know otherwise!).      (VB)


1960      With no change to  the 1932 series of  (up to) four numerals, a C and a serial number – came a change of  International Code, to CAM.    This Fiat 1500 sports was  seen in Juan les-Pins in 1960.   (VB archive)


Another change of Oval is seen on Fiat 850 W 2326 A, found in Middlesex in 1963.   W was the regional code for West Cameroun (Buea); the RFC abbreviation was presumably for République  Fédérale  de Cameroun, but has not been officially recognised.     Classic stencilled French plates of the period at the rear….       (VB)



This Camerounian consular corps Datsun, attached to the US embassy, lived briefly in Swiss Cottage, London during the 1970s.   Brumby archive

c. 1970     This Camerounian consular corps Datsun IT 9175 CC, attached to the US embassy, lived briefly in Swiss Cottage, London, during the 1970s.        Brumby archive

‘IT ‘  was the abbreviation of Importation Temporaire, whereby such medium-term visitors to the country as Consular, Diplomatic and Technical Aid/NGO personnel and others, could enter their vehicles to the country free of import and local duties, on the understanding that they were to be re-exported at the end of tour.   Failing that, duties became payable and normal plates issued to the car.   When the vehicle was attached to an embassy or consulate, CD or CC was added as a suffix.    Other temporary imports used simple IT and up to four numbers.

Some vehicles chose a blue background , particularly in the CM former British sector. Luoma archive.

Some vehicles arbitrarily chose a blue background , particularly in the CM former British sector.    Luoma archive.



Cameroun ALMOST  holds the record for the territory which has used the greatest number of International Ovals

TC, CAM, RFC, RUC and now CMR

But Congo (Leopldville)  just pips Cameroun, with CB, RCL, CGO, ZR, ZRE,  and now DRC, (which, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, uses the ‘ D ‘ to refer to a political system not yet adopted by that country –  though might possibly, in the forthcoming centuries…)

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!

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.