What’s On Your Plate?

A brief history of car license plates around the world
Fascinating facts about vehicle number plates from around the world.

Vehicle plate numbers from around the world. — Leesan


I love vehicle licence plates, strange as that sounds. As Malaysians, we know it as “car number plates” and most would not particularly find them interesting except when we hear of someone paying an incredible amount of money for a fancy number.

But in my travels around the world, I have come to appreciate the beauty of the vehicle licence plate and love taking pictures of unusual ones.

In the Philippines, for example, I saw some number plates that were quite unique. The designs were not standardised and did not follow any sequence or showed letters of the alphabet to indicate which province the vehicles were registered in.

A local tour guide explained that the vehicle registration system went down five years ago and the car plates I saw were temporary ones. A new solution has been implemented which seemed a pity to me as the plates were something interesting to the tourist!

Vehicle licence plates were introduced in the late 19th century by governments for the common purpose of giving transportation vehicles proper identification. France was the first to implement this in 1893, followed by Germany in 1896, the Netherlands and Spain in 1900, the United States in 1901 and Britain in 1904.


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