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On Tue, 13 Apr 2004, Frank Kemper wrote:

There are specific provisions for that. Foreign nationals may bring in their non-US-spec vehicles without any conversion work required for a period of no more than one year, after which the vehicle must be exported or destroyed -- it cannot be sold without going through the official importation process, which is lengthy, rigorous and EXTREMELY expensive.
In practice, sequential one-year compliance waivers are sometimes granted to foreign nationals who have a legitimate reason to use their own non-US-spec vehicles in the US for longer periods of time, but these are granted only on a year-by-year basis. An example is Canadians and Mexicans who, by peculiarities of their home and work situation, must use their cars in the US long-term. After the year is up, the car must still be exported, but this exportation can be accomplished by simply driving back over the border into Mexico or Canada (as appropriate and then applying for the car's re-entry. The DOT keeps a fairly watchful eye on this and tends to deny re-entry to vehicles if they have any reason to believe they're being manipulated.
The rules are different for diplomats and military personnel, who are allowed their non-spec vehicles for as long as their term of assignment.
Arrangements are similar in other countries.
DS
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In haute in die Tasten:

All depends where in Europe the car is used. In the UK you can drive cars with plates from other countries for up to 12 months at a time if "temporary" imports. There's a chap up the road from me with a Spanish registered Alfa 164 that's been here for about 4 years.. I know a bloke in Greece who's been driving a Nissan 4x4 on UK plates for the last 12, never been inspected, never had any tax paid, it seems to just be a legal black hole as far as the relevant Greek authorities are concered.
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haute in die Tasten:

Unfortunately, the US authorities are a bit more particular. At least, here in NYC they are.
If you drive a car with European registration & plates here, and you are not a diplomat or some other exception, you are going to be arrested and your car will be impounded. Period.
After you get out of jail, there will probably be some kind of fine involved, and you will not get the car back until you make all of the necessary arrangements to have it properly registered and insured here in the USA. If the car cannot be registered or insured here for some reason, then it will likely be sold by the government at auction.
Overall, it's just not a good idea.
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wrote:

In the chicago area they don't seem to be. Considering at the old place I had neighbor who's car was registered in canada.

Hmm... I've seen cars on the road in chicago area with european plates. So there must be some grace period in IL at the very least. Another sight I've seen a few times is an IL plate bolted on top of a european one.
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Thomas J. PaladinoJr. wrote:

Yeah, Canada is different; Canadian plates and insurance are OK here, and vice-versa.

Actually, the European plates you saw were probably vanity plates; you can order them from suppliers in europe, and even have your US plate number printed on them. Chances are, they're fully legal and insured cars, just with different plates for the european 'look'; if they get pulled over, it'll be a small fine for not displaying proper number plates, but the car itself is legal. However, if they get pulled over, and it turns out to be just a european car, with no US registration or insurance, then the cop will probably not let the car continue on the road.
The IL plate bolted on top of the euro plate is a different story, but also legal. It just means that the car is probably registered in both Europe and the USA.
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wrote:

No. I can tell those dorks from the real ones. The cars had no other plates on them. The cars are also clearly european spec.

Now that is illegal in IL
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Thomas J. Paladino Jr. wrote:

Something I've seen many times is a car that was apparently purchased in Yurrup and issued a license plate for Germany or wherver, but with a California plate mounted on top of it. When the car was shipped to the U.S., the owner kept the Euro-plate on the car. The European plate is wider, of course, and sticks out on from behind the California plate on either side. Which is exactly what's desired.
Up through the Seventies and maybe into the Eighties, I used to see cars with *oval* West German license plates. It's never been clear to me what the deal was with those, since I knew that the standard West German plates were long and rectangular. Were those oval plates the sort that were issued to American servicemen stationed in Germany?
Geoff
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On Thu, 15 Apr 2004, Geoff Miller wrote:

http://www.euro-sign.com/european_license.htm
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snipped-for-privacy@u1.netgate.net (Geoff Miller) writes:

The oval German plates were tourist (temporary) plates. So I assume they could be issued to the miliotary stationed there.
What you see these days in (a few) cars of german origin but titled in the US are also tourist plates but they have changed shapes and color. Now they have regular shape for a german plate, but they have a vertical red line about an inch thick in one of the two sides. They tend to be in BMWs as their European delivery program is quite popular: people fly to Germany, pick-up the US-spec car previously bought at a US dealership, drive it around for up to 30 days using German tourist plates, drop it off, fly back to the US, and pick up the car at the dealership with the two sets of plates.
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These plates are for export purposes i.e. for a car which gets its first registration (and insurance) in Germany, but is bound to leave the country after a while and never come back. Today these export plates are shaped like usual license plates but carry a red mark on the left side instead of a blue one. In order not to make the cars of US military personnel in Germany stick out of the crowd, german authorities have just recently created several "fake" districts and issued license plates for US citizens which look like german plates.
Frank
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The US military used to have very distinctive licence { Frank, pls note correct ENGLISH spelling... :-) } plates.
The oval plates were 'Z' plates where Z = Zoll = Customs.
As Frank says, current export plates look like regular ones. They even bear the registration marks of the district issuing them. Thus typically new Mercs will have Stuttgart or Bremen plates, since many will have been collected by their owners from the factories.
For info, German plates are issued by a town or local district, and the first one to three letters before the hyphen bear the distinctive letters of that district. E.g. B = Berlin F = Frankfurt HB = Bremen (Hanseatic City of Bremen)
If one changes one's home one MUST reregister the car within a certain time as, I think, the road tax is paid to the local authority. In the UK the road tax is paid to the central government so it matters not a jot where you register the car or where you live. Although some of the letters have had some bearing on the issuing authority it's never been a specially systematic system, so to speak.
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Is that the color vs. colour thing? <s>
Frank
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Exactly so!
And "burgled", not "burglarized"...
DAS
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No, the numberplates for American military personnel look like typical US numberplates with black stripes at top and bottom. Much what one sees the letter boxes on wide-screen films. They are optical trick to resemble the European numberplates.
German authorities DO NOT issue the numberplates for American military personnel. I asked my parents in Germany to confirm it for me as they live near the American military base.
Oliver
Frank Kemper wrote:

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Ennui Society wrote:

That is the old-style plates.

Correct.
For sample pics of current US military personnel plates see e.g. <http://ffsn.de/nweb/forum/index2.php?action=show_thread&thread .1077272286.dat&file>
AD and AF from July 2000 on, HK were introduced later.
The text in the white seal translates into _Armed forces of the United States of America in Germany_
Juergen
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Viewed from some distance, these plates look like ordinary german ones. I have heard that this simliarity was intentional to protect US military personnel against anti-american attacks. Is that true?
Frank
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Hi Frank,
Frank Kemper wrote:

Yes, that is their purpose.

Yes, the intentional similarity was to enhance the security level of the military personnel - it was well before 9/11 so it has nothing to do with Al Queida et al. but with other idiots like political terroristic left-wing fanatics.
Personally I do doubt these imitated plates make any real sense.
Shown in the picture examples were only double-row plates, of course there is also single-row plates but as space on US spec vehicles for number plates is different than on European spec vehicles very often those small double-row plates are used for US military personnel vehicles.
Kind regards
Juergen
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I see lots of these when I am in the Frankfurt area, which I am frequently.
The blue rectangle in the top left corner designating the country resembles the general EU plate style, which shows 12 stars in a circle with the country underneath. In the US plate it looks like the NATO star.
I have elected to have it on my plates; obviates need for separate country sticker when leaving the UK.
This style of country designation has been adopted in a number of European countries outside the EU (with the appropriate national symbol, such a flag, instead of the 12 stars) and even in Israel.
Example Turkey: http://home.planetinternet.be/~eva123/landenpaginas/turkije.htm
Israel: http://www.olavsplates.com/israel_submissions.html
DAS
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Thomas J. Paladino Jr. wrote:

Are you sure? Do you have link in the Internet where the NYC police officers are vigorous in prosecuting the vehicles with foreign numberplates? I find it quite doubtful.
I understand that the foreign visitors who are not US citizen or resident are permitted to import and drive their vehicles for 12 months before exporting them back to their home country. Under the NHTSA's temporary importations, the foreign visitors must tick the appropiate boxes on the HS-7 form
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/TempInfo.html
I've seen many vehicles with foreign numberplates in Boulder and Denver at the University of Colorado campuses. I spoke with Boulder Police about it: they only stop them if they seem to violate the traffic regulations or behave erratically just like any other vehicles.
Regards, Oliver
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Then you don't know the NYPD.
I have lived here my whole life, and honestly, I have only ever seen one car with euro plates; diplomats recieve special plates from the city. So while I probably can't speak to euro-spec cars specifically, I can tell you, that if ANY car on the NYC streets does not have it's paperwork in order regarding registration and such, the driver is going straight to jail, and the car is going straight to the impound, regardless of the situation. Hell, I have heard of people going to jail for having an expired insurance card.

I don't know that anyone here goes through that hassle and expense just to keep their car here for a few months; as I said, I've only seen one european plate in my whole life, and NYC has the highest concentration of foriegn dignitaries and such in the country. I do suppose, however, that NYC honors this nonresident program, but few if any take advantage of it.

Perhaps the very reason you see so many and I see so few is precicely because the NYPD are hardasses when it comes to enforcement of these rules. I can tell you that I would personally NEVER risk driving a european-registered car in this city (unless I was 110% sure that the paperwork was in order). Believe me, it's just asking to get pulled over.
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