Number Plates Around the World: Africa and Asia

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Number plates are something that are a feature on almost every car, wherever you are in the world. However, they don’t all follow the same style, pattern or even laws. Let’s take a quick look at the way in which number plates differ around the world:

Number Plates in Africa

Africa is a large and diverse continent, so as you may expect, they have a huge variety of different licence plates depending on where you are. Here’s how the number plates look in countries in Africa with the largest number of vehicles:

  • Algeria – number plates here consist of ten digits split into a XXXXX XXX XX format. The second block of numbers shows whether it is a private or commercial vehicle and the date of registration.
  • Angola – plates follow a LLL DD DD format which has been used since 1973.

Map of Africa

  • Egypt – these number plates use Arabic characters for digits and letters. They also use different colours to signify the type of vehicle – police use blue plates with red and white lettering while private vehicles are white plates with black lettering.
  • Ghana – follows a LL DDDD L format to mark their plates, but there can be less than four digits used.
  • Kenya – use a plate that looks similar to the UK suffix style registrations with the format LLL DDDL.
  • Libya – these plates have the digits written in Arabic and English and follow a DD D DDDD format.
  • Morocco – plates use a DDDD – DD format with the last two digits showing where the vehicle was registered.

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"Morroco license plate agdir 2451" by Robinsoncrusoe - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons


  • South Africa – uses different plates for each province with all of them having their own design and colours, as well as its own numbering system.


"South Africa limpoko province 1995 license plate" by Robinsoncrusoe Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

  • Tunisia – have a combination of Arabic and English characters, typically using a selection of digits and finishing in an Arabic character.
  • Zambia – follow a LLL DDDD format, none of the letters signify where the vehicle was registered.  
  • Zimbabwe – since 2004 they have been using a DDD DDDL format to register the vehicles.

Read More: 7 Seriously Funny Number Plates

Number Plates in Asia

Similarly to Africa, Asia has a wide range of number plate styles with huge variations across different countries including:

  • Afghanistan – these number plates are black with white Arabic lettering and the country’s Emblem displayed on the left hand side of the plate.
  • China – uses both English and Chinese script to mark the plates, a symbol marks the province of issue followed by a letter and five digits.


"PRC Blue Plate" by User DF08 on en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA

  • India – these plates have a system that uses a LL DD LL DDDD, these signify district codes, unique numbers and optional letters if the numbers have expired.
  • Indonesia – number plates here are unique as they represent defunct regions of the country, rather than reflecting current conditions, the plates follow a LL DDDD LL pattern.
  • Japan – has two lines on their number plate, the top one reflecting here the plate was issued and the vehicle class code and the bottom line containing a serial number.


"Tesla Roadster with Japanese license plates" by Norio Nakayama - Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

  • Nepal – these plates use only Nepalese characters and come in a range of different colours depending on the use of the vehicle.
  • Philippines – personalised number plates are available in the Philippines and motorists can choose any combo they want provided that it is unique. Standard plates follow a LLL DDD format.

Blatant World under CC by 2.0

  • Taiwan – standard number plates in Taiwan follow an LL DDDD format with Taiwanese characters used at the top of the plate.
  • United Arab Emirates – number plates in the UAE follow different formats depending on which emirate you are in. All use both English and Arabic characters and contain up to 5 digits.
  • Vietnam – follows a DD – DDDDL format which was introduced in 1948 and remains unchanged to this day.

As you can see, number plates are very different depending on where you are in the world, don’t forget to check back to see what car registion plates are like in the Americas, Europe and elsewhere.  

Read More: Lucky and Unlucky Numbers in Chinese Culture