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!





Terry Gray’s old slides found!

June 12, 2013

UPDATE 21-12-14

Terry Gray has located the pictures he took on colour transparency film from the 1960s/70s!     They were thought to have been lost in a house move, 30 years ago….

Your Blogmeister rushed them to                          www.corriejeffrey.com

in Southampton, who speedily transmogrified them into digital pictures which now we can all see – providing we have access to a computer….       This is another wonderful event for Europlate and platesmen worldwide, as a few more rare images of extinct series appear unexpectedly before us, on the Europlate Blog!

What with the recently-released photo gallery of John Pemberton, and now his notated spottings from 1954 (more to come) and the slow release(!) of Bernt Larsson’s early shots, the Gray archive becomes our latest link with the past days of xeno-autonumerology.      Many thanks to T.G. – early member (number 9)  for clearing the attic!

A taste of the period Terry covered, without editor’s notes:    (Later – a request has been received for picture notes to be added, so keep visiting the Page and you should see it happen progressively, starting now.)

(RUS)(SU)_05-10 ABT_TG_resize

David Powell explains:
I am fairly sure that the USSR plates with an ABT suffix were manufacturers’ plates for an organization called Autoexport who managed the export of Moskvich cars and vans.

Cedric Sabine adds:  The 1959 Soviet ABT series was for any vehicle travelling out of country and was issued by Moscow city. So, the export Moskvich cars would indeed have got them but other vehicles did too.

VB:  That would explain why Terry Gray pictured the Moskvich team in London, preparing for the start of the London-Mexico Rally in 1970.



(TN)(56-70s)(for)(UN)_FT 1142_TG_resize

FT was the first prefix used in Tunisia after independence from France,in 1956, at which it had to establish a series for foreign residents, including diplomats in the new embassies in Tunis.    In this case, a member of the UN (ONU) had been accorded diplomatic status, to receive this plate.     FT abbreviated ‘Franchise Temporaire’ (Temporary Licence); such vehicles were allowed to enter Tunisia free of local duties, because they were to be re-exported at the end of the owners’ tours of duty. FT is thought to have run from 1956 to sometime in the 1970s.     Blogman knows only of FT 3 and FT 1142 which have been photographed in service.    Anyone else got a picture??  Terry Gray archive

June 25th.2013  Member Cedric Sabine writes that he has more pictures of this rare Tunisian FT plate series; we have asked if we might have his pictures to further illustrate this item……

21-2014       THANKS, CEDRIC!   What a batch!!

(TN 56-65)(for.res-cc)_FT 743_r_  longMV4-KM book 1963 (TN 56-65)(for.res-cd-GB)_FT 3_cu_VB (ex GB ambassador 1956) (TN 56-65)(for.res-cd)_FT 149_cur_ long pressedYL1 (TN 56-65)(for.res-cd)_FT 728-CS (TN 56-65)(for.res-cd)_FT 1940  CS1968) (TN 56-65)(for.res)_149_cuf_YL2 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA (TN 56-65)(for.res)_FT 718  longMV1 (red-white maybe) (photo 1968) (TN 56-65)(for.res)_FT 1938 HSexJF




This Triumph Toledo(?) has been to Saint Helena and back(!), and was photographed in Northamptonshire on its Helenan 669 plates.    St. Helena has also been seen with an SH prefix.         The owners were British government officers involved in the administration of the Territory, and their cars were returned at the conclusion of their duty there..




SYR 2480.    Between the 1950s and the 1970s, red plates in Syria were issued to public service vehicles including buses, which is what TG photographed in London in the early 1970s. Serials 2001-12000 were issued to Damascus. Long trip!



(SOM)_16564_ c_TG_resize

16564. One of very few 1960-1970s Somalian plates seen was photographed – also in Northamptonshire -on a Mk 3 Ford Cortina, circa 1974. These were oddly well-made plates for such a backward territory; perhaps they were made for them by an international aid process – possibly Italian, as the former colonial power?      In recent decades, the few Somalian vehicles seen in news broadcasts have generally run without bearing plates, as no registration system exists.     Breakaway Puntland (1998), Galmudug (2006) and Somaliland (1996) have established their own systems (see RPWO).



Somalia mini front plate, a la Italiano.

Somalia mini front plate, a la Italiano.



(SD)_SD 8016_TG_resize

SD 8016 is from the original Swaziland series running from the 1920s to 1979. This Mk. 1 Ford Cortina was seen near Brackley, England, during the 1960s.



(S)(trans)_M 4221_TG_resize

From 1937 to ?, these white on red Swedish plates were issued to vehicles temporarily imported.          Terry Gray saw this Fiat in Europe in the 1970s, carrying a normal Swedish plate of the period underneath.



The unusual sighting of this old Swedish tourist import plate was at a Morris Minor rally in Oxfordshire in June 2013!      (Brumby archive)

The unusual sighting of this old Swedish tourist import plate was at a Morris Minor rally in Oxfordshire in June 2013!                  (Brumby archive)



(RSM)(pol)_RSM 0013_c_TG_resize

San Marino issued special plates to the city police in different sizes for cars and motorbikes.     A poor shot, unfortunately, but it must be kept for posterity, as so few were issued and ever fewer were photographed….. (Gray archive)




From 1958, while still the Belgian Congo, this Belgium-manufactured (Howoco?) series was introduced.     It continued from 1960 independence under the re-named ‘Rep. of Congo (Leopoldville)’ (oval RCL).      If this were a  Congo Belge (CB)-issue, the T would mean it came from Kasai province, but after 1960, the regional codes became simple serial letters.     Later two letters with three numbers LL-NNN superseded these L-NNNN plates. The provenance of this picture is presently unknown. (Gray archive)



(RA)_B 131859_TG_resize

From the 1960s to 1995, Argentina’s first countrywide series was issued, with a letter for the State and a up to 6 numerals.      B 131859 is from Buenos Aires (county).      Somewhat dull, in white on black, but a rare sight outside Argentina.      This Peugeot 404 in an odd colour is probably a car manufactured under licence in (RA), where a different colour range was available.                        (Gray archive 1970 London)

Yves Laussecq Comments below:

Regarding the 404 PEUGEOT picture, I’m quite sure it was the vehicle of Gaston Perkins during the 1970 LONDON-MEXICO rally



(R)(cd)_CD 442_r_TG_resize

Member pseudonym’d  ‘BlackVolga’  identifies the smart oval plate in red and black on white, CD 442 as for Roumania Diplomatic Corps from 1968 to  1992.      On a BMW 2000 ‘Touring’, a fine-looking car in its day.                (Gray archive)

These and hundreds of others were taken in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s and captured by Terry as slide transparencies, which are difficult to view except by old projectors, but  give a very clear and well-coloured image, when converted to computer  files (.jpg).

Any readers who have slides, might consider their conversion thus; the lady Corrie who did these being highly recommended AND economical!

More to follow in later Posts.    Updated 15062013

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 from JP

January 25, 2013


These early pictures are of varying quality and interest, but still need to be exhibited for the sake of the members.   They are now identified to save readers’ energy….


OC-436 from Finland area O – Oulu, travelling in Britain during the 1940s.    1939 US Ford V8 identified by Colin Spong.     Pemberton archive

(S)_D 6116_PBvb

D 6116 from Sweden, seen in central London circa 1947.             D=Södermanland (Nyköping).  Pemberton archive

Swedish bicycles had plates, too! 57147 here.

Swedish bicycles had plates, too!      57147 here, in London, if that’s a London taxi at left….


RPWO gives: 1939 Finland plates were revalidated for 1940 by painting the border black. Later “1940” plates were issued for new registrations and these are thought to have been used until 1945. Some 1943 plates were black painted wood, some dated 40 and some were in use as late as 1948.                    This black 1940 plate H.4268 is coded for Hame.                   The car is thought to be an early Skoda                Pemberton Archive

(S)_M 8257_JPvb

This car may be a prewar German *Hanomag (convertible), seen by member Pemberton in Oxford during the 1940s. M 8257 is from the Swedish area of Malmo.   Pemberton archive.                                                          (*2015-Now identified as an Adler by reader Spong)

(S)_N 39_JP1940svb

N 39. – .  A low number from N=Halland (Hamstadt) by John Pemberton in 1940s Denmark.    An American Mercury.      Pemberton archive.

AH=Hessen,1945-56 (US zone of Germany)(Lorrach).       Messerschmidt bubblecar.          AH 23-45.          Pemberton 1945-56 in London


B/H 25-3323 from Hamburg in the British Zone from 1948-56.    Note the massive ‘D‘oval.     Somewhere in England on an Opel, by J. Pemberton, 1949.


A Finland pre-war Opel A-5026, coded A  for Helsinki (Helsingfors) using the 1940 issue of the 1930-49 series,  photographed by John Pemberton in Scandinavia.



A 1946-8 American Ford registered in the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Thomas (1947 T-14) visits Denmark about that time, and is allocated a Temporary Use (red letter K) Copenhagen plate K 110-067 (to permit it to legally circulate in Denmark).   (This was because US/USVI had not been a signatory to the Convention which authorised international travel on their licence-plates.)   Such temporary imports to Europe often showed their original foreign plates as well.                 Pemberton archive


R codes Reykjavik, Iceland. R 56 seen in England somewhere, 1950s, on an unidentified American car.  John Pemberton


BH-4510. A Vauxhall Velox (c.1951) in London in the early 1950s. BH (in Cyrillic) hails from Bosnia-Herzegovina, by then a component of Yugoslavia.  Pemberton archive

Denmark motorcycle identified by Roger Kimbell

H 85 17. Rare Denmark-built  motorcycle identified by Roger Kimbell in his comment below.   H coded Præstø from 1919-58.    Pemberton archive

The motorcycle  with the DK plate is a rare Nimbus 4cyl in line down the frame machine. The only Danish motorcycle manufacturer I believe. Roger Kimbell.


Luxembourg series showed LUX below on the rear plate and above on the front plate. 6681 here on the series which ran from 1895 to 1940(!), although, oddly,  this Buick(?) and photo are from the 1950s…. John Pemberton picture, taken in Denmark.


A-11829 A= Oslo, Norway

A-11829     A= Oslo, Norway   Fiat?   John Pemberton in GB


F 647  —  F=Buskerud, Norway, taken in Denmark by member Pemberton, during 1940s.             Another unknown American car model.


Z-9643 on a pre-war car from Norway, where Z coded Vestfold from 1929 to 1971.

R-7800 is a Dutch motorcycle in Oxford. R was a special allocation for temporary/foreigner registration from 1920 to 1951. Pemberton archive.

R-7800 is a Dutch Harley-Davidson motorcycle in Oxford.     R was a special allocation for temporary/foreigner registration from 1920 to 1951. Pemberton archive.

The rare Portuguese red-on-white diplomatic CD-10-46, seen on a grand American limousine, possibly a 1940s Buick Eight.

The rare Portuguese red-on-white diplomatic CD/10-46, seen on a grand limousine, – a 1940s Buick Eight.    Dates of the introduction of this series are unknown,  as are the embassy codes.    Pemberton archive

8860-B ucharest, borne an another unknown American tank - a convertible model, so someone very rich. (In 1940s Romania??)

8860-B ucharest, borne by another American behemoth –  a convertible Packard Super Eight Convertible Sedan model – so someone very rich. (In 1940’s Romania??)                                                                                                            Car i/d by contributor ‘BlackVolga’.    Pemberton archive


VI-2623… A Morris Oxford from Spain circa 1950 in London. VI=Álava (Vitoria )


Alex Kafka writes: This Monegasque photo MC-1818 is doubly interesting: if I’m not mistaken, “LDVG” to the left of MC-1818 is a Connecticut vanity plate,  metal validation tab included.
You may need to download and enlarge the photo to see the vertically aligned letters “CONN”. This style was used from 1937 to 1947, and 4-letter personalized plates were allowed from 1945 [RPWO paragraph (y)]. So this CT plate must be from 1945-47.
Connecticut was the first U.S. state to introduce personalized plates (called “initials plates”), already in 1937. Only two or three letters were permitted at first.
John Pemberton shot this double-plated Cadillac Fleetwood in London around 1947.