Photo Credit: TLRandz’s 1994 Toyota Corona “Carrie” on CarDomain
EURO PLATES are a probably one of the most widely used car accessories around (at least here in the Philippines). Some die-hard car enthusiasts who want to deviate from the more common JDM theme go through thick and thin to get the right “Euro Look” on their Euro-Inspired rides, while others install it just to make their cars look “different”. Maybe to set their car apart from the other same model, same color cars in the parking lot, or to fill the space of the large plate number mounting point in their cars, whatever the reason, you’ll see European Plates on almost every other car you see on the road today, with the local plate bolted right over it.
But the question that boggles my mind is that with the variety of Colors and Symbols found on Euro Plates, DO PEOPLE KNOW WHAT THE COLORS AND SYMBOLS ACTUALLY STAND FOR? Or are they installed just for the heck of it?
This holds true especially for vehicles who take part in car shows and try to win the much coveted “Best Euro-Inspired” award. Some car show judges (like me) are very particular about this. That’s why I’m writing about this.
I’d like to share what I know about Euro Plates for the benefit of everyone. If you do some research there’s a lot of information about this on the internet. Here’s a good article about this on Wikipedia, which I’ve used as a reference for this post. But that article contains a boat load of information which you might not need, so I’ve put it in bite-sized chunks, relevant to our use here locally. Please note that I’ll be concentrating on German Euro Plates, as that’s the most widely-used Euro Plate around.
Also, since 99% of people who install these plates bolt the local plate over it, only the left and right ends of the German Euro Plate is visible. So even if there’s more to discuss about the characters in the middle of the plate, I’ll just be focusing on the areas of the on the left and right sides of the plate – those which are visible after you bolt the local plate over it.
Getting Period-Correct Plates
First, and probably the most important question to ask before you pick up that Euro Plate you’ve been wanting to get is “IS IT PERIOD-CORRECT?”. Does the Euro Plate match the age of your vehicle? Here’s how to find out.
Photos from this point below from Wikipedia
1994 and Up Plate Number Format (Blue Strip on the Left)
This is the present German Plate Number format that has been in use since 1994. The primary indicator is the blue strip on the left, which has the Flag of Europe (12 golden stars forming a circle), and the country code in white text (D = Deutschland or Germany).
Pre-1994 Plate Number Format (No Blue Strip)
This is the pre-1994 German Plate Number format. No longer issued, but is still in use.
Historic Vehicles (Blue Strip on Left, Plate Ends with an H)
The exception to the pre-1994 German Plate Number format are vehicles which fall under the Classic Car category. These vehicles can have the blue strip on the left, but have an H at the end of the plate, which stands for Historisch or Historic. To qualify, vehicles sporting these plates must be at least 30 years old from the time it was first registered, and must be in original condition and well maintained (additional modifications for safety such as seat belts are acceptable).
Symbols and Color Strips on the Plate
Now that we’ve got “period-correctness” out of the way, and we all understand what the Blue Strip means, what about the other color strips on the German Euro Plates?
Military Plates (German Flag on the Left)
Military Plates are non-reflective and have the German Flag displayed on the left side of the plate instead of the Blue Strip.
Seasonal Plates (“Fraction” at the End of the Plate)
Seasonal Plates are indicated by a “fraction” at the end of the plate, indicating the months between when these vehicles are registered to be driven. The upper number indicates the starting month, and the lower number indicates the ending month. In the above example, it is only legal to drive a vehicle with this plate number between the months of November and March. Outside these months, it is illegal to drive the vehicle sporting this plate number.
Temporary Plates (Yellow Strip on the Right)
Plates with a Yellow Strip on the right side are actually Temporary Plates for vehicles which have not been registered because they are only for transfer within Germany. These plates are only valid for 5 days, the expiration date of which is indicated on the yellow strip, listed numerically on three lines – date, month, and year, in two digits each (Picture Above: 9th of March, 2004). Vehicles requiring these plates need not go through the usual technical inspection during registration, but must be “technically fit” to be driven in public for the valid timeframe. Once it has expired, the plate must no longer be used. Note that Temporary Plates or Yellow Strip Plates do not have the Blue Strip on the left. So if you spot one with a Blue Strip, it’s not a legitimate German Euro Plate.
Export Plates (Red Strip on the Right)
Plates with a Red Strip on the right are Export Plates for vehicles to be exported outside of Germany. Instead of indicating the expiration date of the plate, as with that on the Yellow Strip Temporary Plates, the Red Strip shows the expiration date of the vehicle insurance (Picture Above: 9th of September, 2005). As a requirement, the vehicle must have already left Germany by the time the insurance expires. Note that Export Plates or Red Strip Plates do not have the Blue Strip on the left. So if you spot one with a Blue Strip, it’s not a legitimate German Euro Plate.
Green or Red Text Plates
Now sometimes, you’ll see some cars sporting Euro Plates with Green or Red letterings on it. What do they mean?
Plate for Car Dealers and Car Collectors (Red Text on White Background)
The number code for Car Dealers’ plates start with 06. These are used for dealer test drives of unregistered cars. The insurance is connected to the plate, and not to the car. On the other hand, the number code Car Collectors’ plates start with 07. Vintage Car Collectors are given one set of plates, which they can use on any of their cars, so long as they keep a strict record of use, and that they don’t use the cars as daily drivers. These cars must be at least 30 years old from the time it was first registered (though prior to April 2007, the minimum vehicle age was 20 years old).
Tax Exempt Plates (Green Text on White Background)
These are for Tax Exempt vehicles, examples of which are ambulances, tractors, agricultural trailers, trailers for boats or trailers for gliders, etc.
So now, armed with this new information, you can go and check your friends cars or perhaps even your car. What kind of Euro Plates are on? Are they Period-Correct? Do you feel it’s alright to sport Temporary Plates (Yellow Strip) or Export Plates (Red Strip) even if they’re already expired? You’re more knowledgeable now so I hope this article has helped.
For more information about the other Euro Plates from the rest of the European Union other than Germany, which is outside the scope of this article, then you can check it out here.
Of course, these are all guidelines based on what legitimate German Euro Plates should look like. Customized plates are exceptions, as anything goes when it comes to custom plates.
That’s it! Now it’s time to take action and SHARE THIS ARTICLE TO YOUR FRIENDS! Spread the word to those who are reppin’ Euro Plates, as well as to those who are about to. I’m sure they’ll thank you for it.