European License Plates Wiki

Special Issue | German License Plate Meanings

The current form of German European license plates have been in use since 1994. Most license plates for countries in the European Union have a blue graphic strip on the left side of the plate. This strip has the country code in white – for Germany it is a “D” for Deutschland. Above the country code is the Flag of Europe with is the 12 golden stars in a circle.

Classic Car License Plates

The plate for classic cars can get an H (historic) at the end of the plate. The following rules apply when determining whether a car gets an H-Plate designation: From initial registration, the automobile must be at least 30 years old and must be in original condition (original parts and interior design) and have impeccable maintenance. Some quality control features such as safety belts or a catalytic converter are allowed exceptions.

Seasonal German License Plate

German seasonal license plateSeasonal plates are used primarily for people who only drive part of the year. The seasonal tag applies for the months of May through October. The seasonal number Euro Plate has two numbers at the end of the plate indicating the valid registration months. This results in lower fees for re-registering cars, as well lower insurance premiums.

Tax Exempt Vehicles

German tax exempt tagAmbulances, tractors, and agricultural trailers, trailers for boats or trailers for gliders may be registered with a tax exempt German Euro Plate. These plates have green print on a white background. Regular trailers trucks can be registered as tax exempt, but there is an increased tax on the vehicle which tows the trailer. A trailer may also be tax exempt if owner agrees to hand over his trailer without payment to the German armed forces during a state of emergency.

Car Dealer License Plate

German dealer license plateThis European license plate is issued to car dealership for car test drives. Features include:

Car Dealer Europlates may be attached to cars which are changing hands, such as the test run of unregistered cars. The liability insurance is connected to the plate, not a specific car.

Exported Vehicles License Plates

German export tagExport Europlates are used when transporting autos outside of Germany (also known as “Ausfuhrkennzeichen”, customs plates). These have been in use since the 1980′s. The plates are unique because they do have the blue Euro strip on the left. As well, the owner can register the car without being a German resident. The date on the red strip shows the expiration date of the vehicle insurance, not the registration. After this date the vehicle must have left Germany.

Diplomatic German License Plates

German diplomatic tagPlates of cars covered by diplomatic immunity does not have the registration location code. Instead there is a 0 on the left. This does not only include ambassadors of foreign countries: the German Federal President’s license plate is 0-1, the Chancellor’s 0-2, the Foreign Secretary’s plate is 0-3. The plate of the President of the Federal Parliament is an exception: it shows 1-1. This means that the Parliament’s President is not in the executive branch but holds a higher position than the Chancellor. The German government insures these vehicles.

Military European License Plates

German military auto tagFeatures include:

Military vehicles which are used by the NATO headquarters in Germany use the same design as the Y-plates but are formatted as X followed by a four-digit number, for example X-1234. These vehicles are tax-exempt and the government is the insurer. Armed Forces carry out a regular internal inspection on these vehicles much like an official inspection. Therefore, no mandatory technical inspection is required.

Temporary Plate

German temp tagVehicles which have not been registered (because they are for transfer within Germany) have to carry short-term plates valid only for five days.

Features include:

The vehicle is not required to have a technical inspection. The vehicle must be technically fit to be operated in public. Insurance rates are very expensive; approximately €100 for 5 days of coverage. Most insurance companies credit this premium if the car is registered normally with the same insurance provider after these 5 days.

Emission, safety test and registration sticker for German License plates

German vehicle decalsSafety and Registration Decal Sticker: The expiration date can be figured out as follows: The year is in the centre of the sticker, and the stickers are attached with the month of expiration pointing upwards. The black marking on the side (near the 12) thus makes it easy for the police to see the expiration month from a distance. Like a clock, the marking shows the same position of a number on the face of a clock. For example the black marking is on the left side, so it is the ninth month (or 9 o’clock) and hence the expiry date is 30 September. The colors are repeated every 6 years. Emission test stickers are no longer used for tests done since beginning of 2010: The safety test sticker covers both. The lower sticker is the official seal of registration. It always carries the seal of the respective German Bundesland, mostly with the place or district of issue being added in print.

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