License plates: what they mean

We are all used to white plaques, but some escape the norm. We explain everything in detail.

By dint of seeing them, we ended up not paying attention to the license plates. But, from time to time, one of them can intrigue: red, green, black, yellow, it does not have the white background and black numbers usual plates. What do these colors correspond to? We will explain everything to you.

Green plate: diplomatic vehicle

The diplomatic staff (embassies, UNESCO, Council of Europe, etc.) are entitled to special registration plates. They allow the owners of these cars to do not pay taxes when purchasing them, but do not give thediplomatic immunity to their drivers in themselves. They also allow parking in spaces reserved for them near embassies.

The plate corresponds to the function and the embassy of the owner of the vehicle: more details here.

Red plate: vehicle in “temporary transit”

When a visitor from a country outside the European Union wishes to buy a new car for a few months, he can request these temporary transit plates (TT), with a red background. They thus allow the buyer not to pay taxes when purchasing the car. But these plates have only one limited period of validity : it is represented by the numbers located to the right of the plate. For example, a red plate with the numbers 12 21 at the end will expire in December 2021. After which, the car must be resold, exported, or have its VAT paid.

Black plate: collector’s vehicle

To better respect the period look of their cars, owners of vintage vehicles can request to use a black background plate. But be careful, the format must always respect the one in force (AA-123-AA) if the car has changed hands since the implementation of the SIV. Only cars passed in gray card collection are eligible.

Yellow plate: old plates

Since 2009, every car sold, whether new or used, must pass the new Vehicle Registration System (SIV), in AA-123-AA format, with black characters on a white background. But if a car hasn’t changed hands since before 2009, she may have kept her old plates, in the 123-AA-75 format, with the department at the end. They were, at the time, at yellow background, and that’s why you can still come across some cars with plates of this color. But they are mechanically on the verge of extinction.

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Source: modèles, essais, avis et vidéos – Auto Plus by

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