Green number plate in France: for electric cars?

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Publié par Eplaque - 7 min de lecture ⏳

Le 25/01/2023 - Mis à jour le 15/02/2024

You are likely to see green number plates in France. It is in the Île-de-France region that they appear the most. Most often, luxury cars sport them. Which makes them quite noticeable. Be aware that such a plate is not reserved for luxury vehicles, and is completely legal. It is actually reserved for a specific profession and offers certain advantages. Find out here what you need to know about the green license plate in France.

Green on number plate: in France, it’s a diplomatic car

In other countries, such as the UK, green number plates are used to identify EV (electric vehicles). It can be a simple green stripe on a number plate. In France, things are different. An EV will get a green sticker, caller Crit’air sticker. Embassies, consulates and international organizations such as NATO use green number plates.

To able to circulate on French territory, a vehicle must be equipped with one or two license plates, and the owner must have a « carte grise ». Diplomatic cars are no exception to this rule. However, their license plates differ from those of other motorized land vehicles. Indeed, diplomatic and consular vehicles sport green license plates. They have been existing in France since August 17, 1936, as the implementation of the rules of public international law. A green diplomatic number plate therefore grants diplomatic immunity.

How to read a diplomatic green number plate in France? Basic structure

A green car plate follows the following structure:

  • An optional letter, only for OECD (E), The Council of Europe (S) and UNESCO (U)
  • Numbers (from 1 to 4): identifies the country or the international organization of the French green plate
  • Letters (1 to 3): to identify the role attached to the owner within the foreign representation (ambassador, diplomat, consulate personel, etc.)
  • A serial number (1 to 5 digits)
  • An optional suffix (Z if tax exempt, X if tax had to be paid)

Now let’s see how to read a green car plate in France, the exact meaning of every code.

Green car plate: what does it say?

A French green number plate provides more information about the owner than a classic civilian plate. The color of the characters already provides information. Indeed, the writing on the diplomatic plate can be orange or white:

  • Green and orange license plate (CD or CMD): the vehicle is used by a member of the diplomatic corps
  • Green and white license plate (C or K): the owner is attached to the consular corps or to non-diplomatic staff (administration, etc.)
plaque verte et blanche

The green license plate and white writing above is attached to CERN (431). The letter K indicates that the driver does not perform a diplomatic role. It probably belongs to a scientist.

The digits making up the registration number therefore inform of the country or national organization of the owner. 401 thus correspond to UNESCO, 104 to Sweden, 100 to Senegal, 26 to China… The letters also help to determine the function of the owner of the vehicle:

  • The letter K is reserved for consular employees and members of the technical and administrative staff
  • C indicates that it is a vehicle of a consular official
  • CD means that the vehicle belongs to a diplomat
  • The letters CMD inform that the vehicle is that of a head of diplomatic mission

Country codes

Here are the most frequent:

  • 5: Germany
  • 6: USA
  • 45: UK
  • 40 : Spain
  • 26: China
  • 60: Italy

Example of green and orange plate and meaning

Let’s dissect this green and orange plate published on Wikipedia:

  • 168: this corresponds to the Czech Republic
  • CD: it is a diplomatic corps plate, so it is a diplomat who holds the gray card
  • 66: serial number of the diplomatic car

We see that the plate is screwed… Apparently this Czech diplomat does not know that riveting is mandatory.

Diplomatic immunity and green number plate

Diplomatic immunity is one of the main advantages that a green license plate has. It enables State representatives to perform their duties effectively. In addition, a diplomatic vehicle may refuse to be checked. If some see it as a way to circumvent the rules of the Highway Code, it is not. A green number plate does not give the driver and occupants the green light to flout traffic laws. Thus, in the event of illegal parking, the offender will have to pay the fine. The authorities can also remove the vehicle from the road if it represents a danger to the safety of other drivers. If the situation requires it, the host country can ask the home country to waive the immunity.

How to get green number plate in France?

Any diplomatic number must be requested online at the ANTS. You can then order your green licence plates to any approved company, such as Eplaque. To get the diplomatic registration sorted out, you’ll need:

  • A proof of identity
  • A proof of address less than 6 months old
  • Car registration application (Cerfa 13750*05)
  • Administrative, technical and tax documents
  • Proof of address

Those must be included in a specific request called « Réaliser une démarche liée à un véhicule diplomatique ».

Diplomatic plates UK: what difference?

In the UK, a diplomatic plate is distinguishable only by its format. Indeed, unlike in France a British diplomatic number plate uses standard colors (black characters on yellow background). However, the numbers found on UK number plates for diplomats tell us to which country or organization the car belongs. Here is the structure used:

  • 3 first digits (or letters in certain instances): country code or organization
  • Middle letter: London (D) or out of London (X)
  • 3 last digits: type of staff (e.g. in the 100 like 101 or 102 is for diplomats, in the 400s for non diplomats, etc.)

For example, a UK diplomatic license plate « 114 D 101 » belongs to a Belgian diplomat (114 is the country code assigned to Belgium) based in London. Certain countries are allowed to use letters instead of their digit code to identify them. Among them, there are USA, JAM for Jamaica, etc.

How to get UK diplomatic plates?

Here is a general overview of how one can obtain diplomatic plates in the UK. First, to be eligible for diplomatic plates in the UK, an individual must hold a valid diplomatic status. This means that they need to be officially recognized and accredited as a diplomat by their home country’s government. Moreover, that person must have been assigned to work at a diplomatic mission or international organization in the UK. Service staff are not entitled to get UK diplomatic number plates.

For that status to be recognized, the diplomatic mission or organization must formally notify the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) about the assignment of a diplomat or consular staff member. This notification, made to the DMIOU, usually includes information about the individual’s diplomatic status, position, and expected duration of the assignment.

Once the FCO receives the notification, they will provide the necessary information and guidelines for obtaining UK diplomatic license plates. The diplomat or their mission will need to submit an application for diplomatic plates to the relevant UK authorities. This might involve filling out forms such as the V117 (vehicle registration document), providing documentation, and adhering to specific requirements.

After reviewing the application and verifying the individual’s diplomatic status, the United Kingdom authorities will grant approval for diplomatic plates if all criteria are met. Once approved, the diplomatic plates UK will be issued for the diplomat’s vehicle.

What about green number plate in the UK? What does that strip mean?

Green number plates in the UK are not diplomatic at all! They are special license plates designed to indicate that a vehicle is a zero-emission vehicle, such as an electric car or a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. These green license plates are part of the UK government’s efforts to promote environmentally friendly vehicles and reduce carbon emissions from transportation. Those number plates with a green strip serve as a visual recognition of the vehicle’s low or zero emissions status.

plaque verte Royaume-Uni

A green number plate from the United Kingdom has a green background with white characters, making them easily distinguishable from the standard white and UK yellow number plates used for other vehicles. They are meant to encourage the adoption of electric and low-emission vehicles by providing a visible incentive to drivers. Some local authorities and governments offer benefits or incentives to vehicles with green number plates. Such as access to low-emission zones (London ULEZ), reduced or free parking, and other privileges aimed at promoting sustainable transportation.

Green number plates are not mandatory

The use of UK green number plate is optional for electric cars registered before December 2020. Vehicle owners can choose to display the green stripe license plate if their vehicle qualifies as a zero-emission vehicle. However, new electric cars are automatically fitted with UK green license plates.


Does a green number plate have a validity period?

A green license plate is not set to expire. However, it is no longer valid when the vehicle is stolen, destroyed, sold to a person who is not part of the consular or diplomatic corps or if the immunity has been withdrawn.

Where to register a diplomatic vehicle in France?

The registration of a diplomatic vehicle is done with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A standard car registration in France can be done through private companies, such as Eplaque.

How much does a diplomatic vehicle registration certificate cost?

The carte grise of a diplomatic vehicle is usually free.

What are the other benefits of a green license plate?

A vehicle with green plates is exempt from VAT and/or import duties. In addition, it is exempt from technical inspection (MOT).

What is a non-French green license plate?

It depends on the country of origin. It can be an EV car plate, for example in Romania, in the Netherlands… Or in Norway, a country where electric cars are very common. In Germany, plates with green characters are assigned to tax-exempt vehicles. In the UK, they use a green stripe on the number plate. Some people see it as a green square on number plate. Or a green line. But it’s the same.

What does the green strip on a number plate mean in the UK?

It means that the car is a zero-emission model.

What is a green number plate in Europe?

It depends on the country. Either it’s a diplomatic vehicle, either it’s a zero-emission car or something else. However, no European country use green as standard background color.

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