Vehicle registration plate

Some jurisdictions license non-traditional vehicles, such as golf carts, particularly on on-road vehicles, such as this one in Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

A vehicle registration plate, also known as a number plate (British English) or a license plate (American English), is a metal or plastic plate attached to a motor vehicle or trailer for official identification purposes. All countries require registration plates for road vehicles such as cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Whether they are required for other vehicles, such as bicycles, boats, or tractors, may vary by jurisdiction. The registration identifier is a numeric or alphanumeric ID that uniquely identifies the vehicle owner within the issuing region's vehicle register. In some countries, the identifier is unique within the entire country, while in others it is unique within a state or province. Whether the identifier is associated with a vehicle or a person also varies by issuing agency. There are also electronic license plates.

Legal requirements

A car registration plate as seen in the United Kingdom (with unofficial country identification).

Most governments require a registration plate to be attached to both the front and rear of a vehicle, although certain jurisdictions or vehicle types, such as motorboats, require only one plate, which is usually attached to the rear of the vehicle. National databases relate this number to other information describing the vehicle, such as the make, model, colour, year of manufacture, engine size, type of fuel used, mileage recorded (and other similar data in jurisdictions where vehicles are regularly inspected for roadworthiness every year or two), Vehicle Identification (Chassis) Number, and the name and address of the vehicle's registered owner or keeper.

In the vast majority of jurisdictions, the government holds a monopoly on the manufacturing of vehicle registration plates for that jurisdiction. Either a government agency or a private company with express contractual authorization from the government makes plates as needed, which are then mailed to, delivered to, or picked up by the vehicle owners. Thus, it is normally illegal for private citizens to make and affix their own plates, because such unauthorized private manufacturing is equivalent to forging an official document. Alternately, the government will merely assign plate numbers, and it is the vehicle owner's responsibility to find an approved private supplier to make a plate with that number.[citation needed]

In some jurisdictions, plates will be permanently assigned to that particular vehicle for its lifetime. If the vehicle is either destroyed or exported to a different country, the plate number is retired or reissued; exported vehicles must be re-registered in the jurisdiction of import. China requires the re-registration of any vehicle that crosses its borders from another country, such as for overland tourist visits, regardless of the length of time it is due to remain there; this has to be arranged with prior approval.[citation needed] Other jurisdictions follow a "plate-to-owner" policy, meaning that when a vehicle is sold the seller removes the current plate(s) from the vehicle. Buyers must either obtain new plates or attach plates they already hold, as well as register their vehicles under the buyer's name and plate number. A person who sells a car and then purchases a new one can apply to have the old plates put onto the new car. One who sells a car and does not buy a new one may, depending on the local laws involved, have to turn the old plates in or destroy them, or may be permitted to keep them. Some jurisdictions permit the registration of the vehicle with "personal" ("vanity" or "Cherished Mark") plates.

In some jurisdictions, plates require periodic replacement, often associated with a design change of the plate itself. Vehicle owners may or may not have the option to keep their original plate number, and may have to pay a fee to exercise this option. Alternately, or additionally, vehicle owners have to replace a small decal on the plate or use a decal on the windshield to indicate the expiration date of the vehicle registration, periodic safety and/or emissions inspections or vehicle taxation. Other jurisdictions have replaced the decal requirement through the use of computerization: a central database maintains records of which plate numbers are associated with expired registrations, communicating with automated number plate readers to enable law-enforcement to identify expired registrations in the field.

Placement

Plates are usually fixed directly to a vehicle or to a plate frame that is fixed to the vehicle. Sometimes, the plate frames contain advertisements inserted by the vehicle service centre or the dealership from which the vehicle was purchased. Vehicle owners can also purchase customized frames to replace the original frames. In some jurisdictions registration plate frames are illegal or have design restrictions. For example, many states, like Texas, allow plate frames but prohibit plate frames from covering the name of the state, province, district, Native American tribe or country that issued of license plate (when that information appears on the plate). Plates are designed to conform to standards with regard to being read by eye in day or at night, or by electronic equipment. Some drivers purchase clear, smoke-colored or tinted covers that go over the registration plate to prevent electronic equipment from scanning the registration plate. Legality of these covers varies. Some cameras incorporate filter systems that make such avoidance attempts unworkable, usually with infra-red filters.

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Kfz-Kennzeichen
العربية: لوحة مركبات
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Аўтамабільны знак
Boarisch: Autokennzeichn
català: Matrícula
Esperanto: Licencplato
한국어: 차량 번호판
Bahasa Indonesia: Plat nomor
íslenska: Númeraplata
Nederlands: Kentekenplaat
Pälzisch: Nummernschild
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Registarska oznaka
татарча/tatarça: Avtomobil kodı
vepsän kel’: Avtonomerad
Tiếng Việt: Biển đăng ký xe
粵語: 車牌號碼
中文: 車輛號牌