European number plates: codes, letters and look

Logo Eplaque

Publié par Eplaque - 4 min de lecture ⏳

Le 26/01/2023 - Mis à jour le 17/10/2023

Are you wondering what a MK European number plate is? FIN? EST? All those letters have, of course, a meaning. Not only we will cover all the European number plate codes and letters. But also, find out about the visual aspect of all those car plates. With this resource, identifying all European number plates will be as easy as 1, 2,3 when driving in France!

How to read European number plate codes?

On some car plates, flags can help us identify the country of origin of a vehicle. But it’s far from always being the case! Indeed, EU license plates display the EC stars. In that case, we must rely on European number plate letters to understand where a car is registered. Here is the full list of the car plates codes in the European union:

  • A: Austria
  • B: Belgium
  • BG : Bulgaria
  • CY : Cyprus
  • CZ: Czech Republic
  • D: Germany (Deutschland)
  • DK: Denmark number plate
  • E: Spain
  • EST: Estonia
  • F: France
  • FIN: Finland
  • GB: Great Britain (prior Brexit, now UK)
  • GR: Greece
  • H: Hungary
  • HR: Croatia (Hrvatska)
  • I: Italy
  • IRL: Ireland
  • L: Luxembourg
  • LT: Lithuania
  • LV: Latvia
  • M : Malta
  • NL: Netherlands ou Nederland
  • P : Portugal
  • PL: Poland
  • RO: Romania
  • S: Sweden
  • SK: Slovakia
  • SLO: Slovenia

European car number plate country codes (outside UE)

Here are now all the missing European car license plate codes related to non EU countries that are part of the geographical Europe:

  • AL: Albania
  • AM: Armenia
  • AZ: Azerbaijan
  • AND: Andorra
  • BIH: Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • BY: Belarus
  • FO: Faroe Islands
  • GEO: Georgia
  • FL: Liechtenstein
  • MC: Monaco
  • MD: Moldova
  • MNE: Montenegro
  • N: Norway
  • NMK: North Macedonia
  • TR: Turkey
  • IS: Iceland
  • CH: Switzerland
  • RKS: Kosovo
  • RSM: San Marino
  • RUS: Russia
  • SRB : Serbia
  • UA: Ukraine
  • UK: license plate from the United Kingdom
plaques immatriculation europe

Characteristics of European license plates, how do they look like?

From the Portugal plate to Kazakhstan via Andorra, Iceland, Lithuania or Hungary, we can see how they look like thanks to the map above. This particularly concise overview allows to draw lessons regarding the appearance of number plates in Europe. As we can see, white backgrounds largely predominate. Some countries and territories use yellow plates, including Great Britain, Luxembourg or Gibraltar. Black is rare, it is used by the Channel Islands and Liechtenstein (white characters).

European Union plates largely follow the French model, if we ignore the French right stripe that is shared with Italy:

  • Left stripe: blue with the EU stars + European number plate country code (see liste above)
  • Plate number

A territorial identifier sometimes separates the registration number (Croatia, Austria…), sometimes it is placed on the far right, as for the registration plate of France or Italy. It is noteworthy to mention that the blue “euroband” is compulsory on the left for the countries of the European Union. Some countries, apparently eager to join the Union, have already added it, for example Serbia.

Among the atypical plates, we note the Belgian license plate, which sports a red edge and red characters. The country is the only one to use red in Europe. Blue is used by 3 territories: Aland (autonomous Finnish archipelago), Monaco and San Marino.

The design of those plates can be altered in case of special series. For example, official number plates or personalised license plate.

The shortest and longest license plates in Europe

As far as the number plate with the shortest number is concerned, Monaco wins the competition with a 4-character code. This is better than the Vatican, whose plates are made up of at least 7 characters (CV + 5 digits for individuals). The longest car number plates are from Ireland (9 characters).

FAQ European number plate codes

What is an MK European number plate?

MK was the Makedonia code. Since the renaming of the country to North Makedonia, the code is now NMK.

What European number plate is E?


How to perform a European number plate check?

There is no integrated system to check a number plate at European level at this point. One should check the available tools and resources in the country of origin to check a car by number plate.

What European country has yellow license plates?

UK, Luxembourg, Netherlands and small British Overseas Territories, such as Gibraltar have yellow number plates as standard colour.

How do European license plates work?

There is no European license plates as such. Each country has its own system. They just shared some layout similarities, such as the size and the presence of a blue strip on the left side.

What is B on a European number plate?

It means the vehicle is registered in Belgium.

CY European number plate?

It means Cyprus.

D on European number plate?

It is a German license plate.

HR European number plate?

The country related to HR is Croatia.

S European license plate?

S is for Sweden.

TR European number plate

TR is Turkey or Türkiye.

A European license plate?

A is for Austria.

Une question ?

Nous vous répondrons dans les meilleurs délais.

Les questions des utilisateurs

  • Deb

    23 février 2024

    8803 TY 30 1960s euro license plate from?
    • Logo Eplaque


      23 février 2024

      This could be a French plate, more specifically registered in the Gard department.
  • Magnus

    12 janvier 2024

    Saw a vehicle with a license plate W-538-LV in Sweden, where would this car be registered? It was a test vehicle, perhaps they have special plates?
    • Logo Eplaque


      15 janvier 2024

      It could actually be a French plate, although if it was the case it would illegally drive there, since W plates are dealer plates that can only be used in France. Swedish test or dealer plates are green.
  • Ladd L Wikstrom

    8 janvier 2024

    What country is license plate LJ with blue shield then X1-809
    • Logo Eplaque


      8 janvier 2024

      LJ is not a country code, so no idea. Could be Slovenian (LJ for Ljubljana), but apparently they don't have standard blue plates (only for police, starts with P).
  • Nick

    31 décembre 2023

    Hi, on the picture what is the plate above gb please?
    • Logo Eplaque


      2 janvier 2024

      Those are from the Isle of Man.
  • jamice

    16 octobre 2023

    what does N on the liscense plate mean
    • Logo Eplaque


      17 octobre 2023

      N denotes Norway.
  • D

    12 octobre 2023

    We saw a car that had a OX As the country (left) of their plate it wqs blue & white like the reste of Europe. Which country is it THANK YOU
    • Logo Eplaque


      13 octobre 2023

      OX doesn't correspond to anything, it must me someone who personalized this area. Which is not legal.
  • Tanisha Herrington

    11 octobre 2023

    What does SFA with a blue strip on the left represent?
    • Logo Eplaque


      11 octobre 2023

      SFA doesn't match any official country ISO code.

    28 septembre 2023

    Could you please identify the following number plate XXXX?
    • Logo Eplaque


      29 septembre 2023

      As explained in the article, we do not have the authority to disclose such information; only law enforcement agencies can do so.
  • Lee

    15 septembre 2023

    Can you identify the following number plate VI723652?
    • Logo Eplaque


      18 septembre 2023

      At first I thought it's a Swiss plate, but since there is no VI canton and no special serial starting with VI, it cannot be. There is no other European standard plate format with 2 letters and 6 digits.
  • Dan Goldstein

    6 août 2023

    Liechtenstein is FL, not LI. Was there last summer.
    • Logo Eplaque


      7 août 2023

      You are right, although their 2 letter ISO code is LI, they use FL on license plates. We have corrected that entry, thanks.
  • FERGUSON Charles

    28 juillet 2023

    Je viens de trouver une vieille plaque que je voudrais identifier. Elle est émaillée noire avec un K rouge et les chiffres 144-284 en blanc. Pouvez-vous me dire d'où elle vient, et quel âge elle a? Merci d'avance.
    • Logo Eplaque


      31 juillet 2023

      Nous l'ignorons, désolé.
    • Y980577

      5 janvier 2024

      Where is this plate from y980577
      • Logo Eplaque


        8 janvier 2024

        Doesn't look like a standard European plate, maybe a special issuance or non EU.
  • Andrey

    27 juillet 2023

    Montenegro's code is "MNE".
    • Logo Eplaque


      28 juillet 2023

      You're right, it's corrected!
  • Maria de la Torre

    21 juillet 2023

    Your English entry for the Ukraine is incorrect. It should be UA and not AU.
    • Logo Eplaque


      21 juillet 2023

      You are right, it's now corrected. Thanks for the notification.
  • Maria

    17 juillet 2023

    Serbia/SRB seems to be missing from the list.
    • Logo Eplaque


      17 juillet 2023

      Yep you are right, we have added it. Thanks for the notification!

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