License Plates

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Welcome to the License Plates mini wiki at Scratchpad!

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License plates, also known as number plates, are generally issued by a national or local government authority for the purpose of identifying and registering a specific vehicle (or other equipment) for usage on public roads. The history of license plates is long and complex, being intertwined with the histories of both road transport and the automotive industry.

Many people around the world collect outdated and expired license plates as a hobby. This can be very challenging depending on the goals being set by the collector - for instance, collecting an entire historical run for all 50 states of the United States of America is easily one of the most difficult undertakings. European collectors, likewise, may attempt a similar historical collection for all the nations of Europe. Many American collectors begin with what is known as a "birth-year run", attempting to collect plates from all 50 states that were valid during the year of their own birth. Others collect plates of specific types, such as military-themed plates or plates featuring animals.

It is important to note that collectors must be careful to only collect plates that are officially expired and not still "attached" (via registration records) to a vehicle. In many locations, certain old plates or numbers can be re-registered to a vehicle by various means, so it is often important to know the laws regarding license plates from a given region.

This wiki, while containing some tips on the license plate collecting hobby, will be more concerned with cataloging and explaining the numerous different types of license plates issued around the world over the past century. In addition, an effort will be made to provide the most up-to-date information on new vehicle registration topics from around the world.

General topics

History of license plates



  • Baseplate: Most common type of private plate issued by a particular authority
  • Special plate: Alternate, special-request plates often (but not always) for private use
  • Car plate: Privately-held passenger car plates
  • Truck plate: Privately-held light truck plates
  • Motorcycle plate: Plates for use on motorcycles or other similar vehicles
  • Trailer plate: Plates for use on various kinds of towed vehicles
  • Commercial plate: Car or truck plates for commercial use
  • Government plate: Plates for use only by government or other official agencies

Other information

Specific topics

Information by continent

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