What Countries Have Yellow License Plates?

June 14, 2023

You're likely to find lots of different license plates in your travels, and the colour of the plate might be one clue to its origin. In the US and Canada, there's a wide variety of colours, but in Europe it seems like almost every country uses yellow. Why is that? Does the colour have any meaning or is it just a matter of preference by the government?

Most countries' license plates have an international vehicle registration code in the middle, which allows them to be recognised by others in the European Union (EU) when driving abroad. In addition to that, some countries have other features to distinguish their plates.

Usually, the first letters are regional identifiers and the last two digits indicate the period in which the car was registered (ie. '53' indicates a registration from September 2003 to February 2004). Some examples: LK = London-Stanmore AB = Amsterdam-Stamte DL = Delft FR = France

Some countries use different colours to differentiate their plates from others. For example, Belgium (code B) is the only European country to use red characters. This is probably due to a requirement that the plates have a high contrast, so that they're easy to read at a distance.

Other countries also use colour combinations to distinguish their plates from others. For instance, Netherlands (code NL) has black and white letters on a yellow background. The Dutch also use a black holographic strip to indicate their EU membership.


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