Vehicle registration plates of the Netherlands

Vehicle registration plates of the Netherlands
A Dutch vehicle registration plate seen in 2007

Dutch vehicle registrations are issued by the national road traffic agency, the Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer (RDW). Vehicle registration plates are assigned bearing the same "number" (an index mark made up of letters and digits) as that shown on the vehicle's registration document. The numbering scheme used bears no relation to the place of a vehicle's registration or ownership, and numbers – which are issued in strict time order – identify the vehicle, not its owner. Thus if a vehicle changes ownership the registration number remains unchanged. However, any technical changes to a vehicle that require it to be re-registered result in the issue of a new registration document and, with it, a new number.


Earlier schemes (1898–1951)

The Netherlands introduced a system of vehicle registration plates on the 26th April 1898 – the third country in the world to do so, after France in 1893 and Germany in 1896.[1]. A plate bearing the number 1 was issued to a Mr J. van Dam, who purchased the first 100% Dutch-built motorcar, which was manufactured at the Groninger Motor-Rijtuigen Fabriek.[2]. Plate numbers stayed with the owner, unlike the present system. From 1906 a new system used the format xx-ddddd, where xx was a province code and ddddd a serial number. This system lasted until 1951, when the current system was introduced.

Province codes

Numbering schemes

The current Dutch licence plate system uses black letters on a light-reflecting yellow background. The previous series used white reflecting letters on a dark-blue background. Their numbering schemes however are the same.

Dutch car number plates can be formatted as follows

Year Format Side Code Comment
1951–1965 XX-99-99 Side Code 1
1965–1973 99-99-XX Side Code 2
1973–1978 99-XX-99 Side Code 3 In 1976 and 1977 the color blue was slightly lighter and the font was different
1978–1991 XX-99-XX Side Code 4 Several letters have been reserved for specific types of vehicles
1991–1999 XX-XX-99 Side Code 5
1999–2008 99-XX-XX Side Code 6
2006–present NL 99-XXX-9 Side Code 7 First in GAIK[clarification needed] series, new font, black border and blue patch with NL was added.
NL 9-XXX-99 Side Code 8
NL XX-999-X Side Code 9
NL X-999-XX Side Code 10

Letters nowadays do not include A, E, I, O, U to avoid profane or obscene language. The letters C and Q are not used, to avoid confusion with the zero. Letters and numbers are given out in strict alphabetical/numeric order. Hence, a Dutch licence plate says all about the date of registration of a car, but nothing about where the car comes from or to whom it belongs.

Other Formats

With the introduction of the GAIK series, several other formats have been introduced as well

Format Comment
XX-XX-99 Used for trailers with a maximum weight of less than 750 KG, registration matches the vehicle pulling the trailer
XX-XX-99 Dealer plates, used by dealerships to register current stock under their insurance, these plates have to be used when the car is used for a test-drive.
XX-XX-99 Taxi plates are mandatory since December 2000, also seen a lot on cars used by doctors as these are usually managed by specialised taxi services.

Special-use licence plates

Letters Description
AA Used for vehicles registered to the Dutch royal family. (AA-??)
B, V The B in the first letter position used to refer to a "Bedrijfswagen" (commercial vehicle): a special status for cars that are exclusively used for commercial purposes. Commercial licence registrations have a separate taxation class, though some 10% of the cars are registered as commercial. A commercial licence is often called "grijs kenteken" (gray registration), referring to the colour of the car's registration papers.
BE Classic commercial vehicles (BE-??-??)
DE, DH, DL, DM, DR, AE, AH, AL, AM, AR Imported classic cars.
KL to KZ & LM, LO, LU Military Vehicles: (KL, KN to KZ: Royal Army, KM: Koninklijke Marine's(Royal Navy), LM: Luchtmacht (Air Force), KP: Regular car from the Koninklijke landmacht (Royal Army), KV: Koninklijke Marechaussee (Royal Constabulary).
CD "Corps Diplomatique" and is used for diplomats (CD-??-??) or (??-CD-??)
CDJ Lawyers or Diplomats working for the International Court of Justice
M Motorcycles (ML-??-??)
BN or GN For vehicles whose owner is not liable to taxation such as staff from embassies without diplomatic status, consulates or international organisations such as ESA ('B'uitenlander in 'N'ederland or 'G'een 'N'ederlander meaning Foreigner in Netherlands or Not Dutch respectively)
GV For agricultural vehicles that may cross national borders (grensverkeer) (GV-??-??) or (??-??-GV)
HA, HF, FH For car merchants, e.g. for test-drives with unregistered cars (Green plate).
HH Dutch Scooters overseas
ZZ For vehicles with a special exemption to enter public roads, such as cranes. (ZZ-??-??)
O Heavy trailers ('O'pleggers). (OX-??-?? or ??-OX-?? or ??-??-OX)
W Medium-light trailers and caravans having own registration. (WX-??-?? or ??-WX-?? or ??-??-WX)

This list is not exhaustive. The Dutch Wikipedia article nl:Nederlands kenteken contains more exceptions.

Recent changes

The licence plates have subtly changed shape in 2002, when not only the letter type (or font) changed, but also a few other changes were made.

  • Combatting fraudulent reports of stolen licence plates (giving one three weeks to break speed limits with an alibi), licence plates are replaced immediately but using the same number. The new licence plate is tagged with a small number 1 over the first dash, that is increased with each new plate.
  • A blue background is used for taxis.
  • White letters on a blue or black background are used for oldtimers older than January 1, 1978.
  • Black letters on a white background are used for small trailers that hide the car's actual licence plate.
  • Large trailers, caravans etc. have now got their own black/yellow licence plate.
  • The letter Y is no longer used for cars, but instead for fast motor boats.
  • SDB till SDZ and also SSB till SSZ will not be used because SD and SS reminds to WW II in the Netherlands.

The RDW (the government service handles the registrations) will soon exhaust all the combinations of licence numbers. The RDW has started requiring regular licence plates for mopeds, replacing the old insurance licence plates. As the old series of the licence plates for the cars and the smaller lorries have ended, they started using the same licence plates, that is formatted as DD-LLL-D.

Current series


  • 01-DB-BB, registration 1999/2000
  • 01-FB-BB, registration 2000
  • 01-GB-BB, registration 2000/2001
  • 01-HB-BB, registration 2001/2002
  • 01-JB-BB, registration 2002
  • 01-LB-BB, registration 2002/2003
  • 01-NB-BB, registration 2003/2004
  • 01-PB-BB, registration 2004/2005
  • 01-RB-BB, registration 2005
  • 01-SB-BB, registration 2005/2006
  • 01-TB-BB, registration 2006/2007
  • 01-XB-BB, registration 2007
  • 01-ZB-BB, registration 2007/2008
  • 01-GBB-1, registration 2008 (00 don't exist in the G-series)
  • 00-HBB-1, registration 2008/2009
  • 00-JBB-1, registration 2009
  • 00-KBB-1, registration 2009/2010
  • 00-LBB-1, registration 2010
  • 00-NBB-1, registration 2010/2011
  • 00-PBB-1, registration 2011
  • 00-RBB-1, registration 2011
  • 00-SBB-1, registration 2011 (current series)


  • MB-01-BB, registration 1979/1998
  • MB-BB-01, registration 1998/2011
  • 01-MB-BB, registration 2011 (current series, now MB)


  • 01-DBB-1, registration 2005/2006
  • 01-FBB-1, registration 2006
  • DB-001-B, registration 2006
  • FB-001-B, registration 2006/2008
  • D-001-BB, registration 2008/2011
  • F-001-BB, registration 2011 (current series)

Lorries (weighing more than 3.5 tons)

  • BB-BB-01, registration 1994/2011 (current series, now BZ)

Lorries (weighing less than 3.5 tons)

  • 01-VB-BB, registration 1998/2001
  • 01-BB-BB, registration 2001/2006
  • 01-VBB-1, registration 2006/2009 (00 don't exist in this V-series)
  • 1-VBB-00, registration 2009 (current series)


  • WB-00-01, registration 2000/2008
  • 00-WB-01, registration 2000/2008
  • 00-01-WB, registration 2000/2008
  • WB-01-BB, registration 2000/2008
  • WB-BB-01, registration 2000/2008
  • 01-WB-BB, registration 2008 (current series, now WH)

Bobtail Trailers

  • OB-BB-01, registration 1988/2009 (current series, now OL)


External links

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