French Plates - Information

General scheme (from 2008)

French vehicle registration plate (from 2008)
French vehicle registration plate (from 2008)

The number will be composed of a serial of 7 alphanumeric characters, made up of 2 letters maximum, 3 numbers maximum, and then 2 letters maximum (for instance: AB 123 CD). There is no local code as in the previous system, it is only a sequential number.
This number will be allocated to a car and will not change, even though the car is sold or the owner relocates.

French vehicle registration plate with local reference(from 2008): there will be a regional logo inside the white hexagon, and the number of the departement below it.
French vehicle registration plate with local reference(from 2008): there will be a regional logo inside the white hexagon, and the number of the departement below it.

Moreover, the car owner will have the possibility to add a blue strip on the right, with the regional logo and the number of his/her departement.

General scheme (until 2009)

French registration plates (until 2008)
French registration plates (until 2008)

The plate bears a "number" of the following formats: either nnnn LL dd, or nnn LLL dd.

  • nnn (or nnnn) is a 3- or 4-digit number.
  • LL (or LLL) is a 2- or 3-letter group.
  • dd is a 2-digit number indicating the département in which the car is registered.

Exceptions to this scheme are:

  • in Corsica, the département identifier has been either 2A (Corse-du-Sud) or 2B (Haute-Corse) since 1975. Prior to that date, all of Corsica was a single département with the identifier 20.
  • in the overseas départments, the département identifer consists of 3 digits (in the series 971 to 978), the first two digits often being stacked to save space.

Vehicle owners must re-register their vehicle if they relocate permanently to another département. There used to be a once-per year tax on cars, called the vignette, whose rate depended on the department. This tax now exists only for corporate-owned vehicles (and there exist exemptions for small numbers of vehicles); it is thus no longer important to know the department of a car on sight. Furthermore, computerized files allow large national databases to be maintained without the need for them to be split them at local level.

A side effect of the vehicle tax system was that many corporations registered their vehicles in departments, such as Marne (51), with lower rates. Regulations aimed at preventing such schemes were passed in 1999.

General scheme (from 2009)

French vehicle registration plate (from 2009)
French vehicle registration plate (from 2009)
French vehicle registration plate with optional local reference to département 00 (from 2009): there will be a regional logo at the top right, and the number of the department below it.
French vehicle registration plate with optional local reference to département 00 (from 2009): there will be a regional logo at the top right, and the number of the department below it.

As of 2009 French vehicle registration plates will be based upon the XX-NNN-ZZ model successfully introduced in 1994 in Italy, composed of a series of 7 alphanumeric characters, made up of 2 letters, 3 numbers and then 2 letters (for instance: AB-123-CD). There will no longer be a local département code as in the previous system, but only a sequential number. This number will be allocated to a vehicle "for life" and will not change, even if the car is sold or the owner moves. The vehicle owner will have the option of adding a blue strip on the right, with the regional logo and the number of his/her département of residence.

Plates, both front and rear, will be black-on-white (in the curent system, rear plates are black-on-yellow, as in the United Kingdom).