A Brief Description of German License Plates

German car number plates show the place where the car carrying them is registered. Whenever a person changes their main place of residence in Germany, or buys a new car, they are required to buy new number plates. Number plates can be bought which are valid all year round or between 2 to 11 months within any 12 months. This allows people to change between summer and winter cars, such as a convertible and a sedan/saloon without having the time and money wasted for de- and re-registering. Emission test (front plate) and vehicle safety test (rear plate) stickers are also attached to the plate.

The expiry date can be figured out as following: The year is in the center of the sticker and the number on the uppermost is the month. The black marking on the side makes it easy for the police to see the expiring month from the distance. Imagine a clock, then the marking shows the same position as the face of the clock does. For example the black marking is on the left side, so it is the ninth month (or 9 o’clock) and hence the expiry date is 30th September. The colors are repeated every 6 years. The lower sticker is the official “seal” of registration, indeed, at the beginning of the 20th century plates were authorized with ink and a stamp. Motorcycles carry only the rear plate.


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