Auto trivia cont...
Only up to a few years ago, as shown on the website given by Gordon Hudson.
Now the standard style is XXDD XXX where X = letter and D = digit.
The second digit is the year and the first indicates which half of the year.
See here for pics of various styles:
For some decades plates at the front are black on white and at rear black on
yellow. In The Netherlands it's black on (a similar) yellow front and rear
and in Germany black on white at both ends. In Blegium it's red characters
on a white background at both ends. There is no European country that
requires only a rear plate as in (parts of?) the USA.
In the UK the enforcement of recommended spacing and typeface has become
rigid only in recent years.
Northern Irish plates no longer look different to mainland Britain plates.
This was a reaction to terrorist attacks.
Most European countries have a numbering system where the 'system' is more
obvious than Britain's, except Belgium, which appears to have a completely
random combination of numbers, letters and spaces.
The system may also depend on who gets the associated fees and taxes. In
the UK the central government gets it, so it is financially immaterial where
the car is registered. In Germany the money stays local so you have to
register locally and re-register if you move to another district. The
letters before the hyphen are fixed (by the local authority) but there is
some choice in the alphanumerics that come after the hyphen.
If you are at a loose end at 2 am one morning look here for styles of
Yet more trivia...
When crossing a border one is supposed to show an oval country identifier
stuck to the rear of the vehicle.
However, the EU had introduced a very practical idea in which the country
code and circle of stars is shown in a blue 'sidebar' on the left. This
obviates the need for the oval sticker.
In some countries I believe this is the only legal format. In Britain the
addition of the blue sidebar is volunary AFAIK.
What I find interesting is that a number of countries near the EU, including
non-candidate ones, have introduced a similar blue sidebar with the country
flag instead of the EU stars. Of course most of the recent/current
candidate countries joined in 2004 but we still have Romania and Bulgaria
joining in 2007 I think.
Poland was a good example of introducing the EU-style blue sidebar long
before actually joining the EU. From a distance it is hard to tell the
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