Price of personalised car plates (vanity plates) by country

Maciamo

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Belgium legalised the use of customisable licence plates a few years ago, and since then they have become quite popular despite the rather steep price tag (1000€ per plate). Brussels being the EU capital, with one third of its population made of foreigners, we see foreign car plates from all over Europe every day. Yet I have never seen any personalised car plates from other countries. There are a few reasons for this:

1) Many European countries do not allow personalised car plates. This includes by alphabetical order: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Spain.

2) Some countries allowed personalised car plates but with heavy restrictions, such as:

  • Czechia : Plates cannot use the letters G, CH, O, Q or W and must include a hyphen and at least one number.
  • Finland : Only 2 or 3 letters and up to 3 digits. Costs 790€.
  • Germany : The letter(s) for the state must always be shown; the only customisation possible is using one's initials (2 letters max) + 4 numbers (e.g. birth year), if that licence plate is still available. On the up side it only costs 10€.
  • Luxembourg : Basically the same as Germany.
  • Poland : Plates must include the region code followed by a single digit, then only a choice of 3 to 5 letters OR numbers (not combined).
  • Slovakia : Plates must include the district code, 2 letters and 5 other characters.
  • United Kingdom : Rules have changed a lot over time, but it seems that at present plates should have 3 letters preceded or followed by 4 other characters (mix of letters and/or numbers). Plates are sold by auction and start at £130 for the least popular. But there is no upper limit. The most expensive plate was sold for £375,000 (about $550,000)!

3) Vanity plates are really expensive relative to the cost of life in these countries:

  • Latvia : 3500€ (about 4 times the average monthly salary)
  • Czechia : 2000€ (with heavy restrictions)
  • Lithuania : 1500€ (1 to 6 characters including at least 1 digit)
  • Moldova : 1500€ (and must include 1 digit)
  • Estonia : 1350€
  • Turkey : from 500€ to 5500€ (as of June 2021 when the Turkish lira is at an all time low against the euro)
  • Hungary : 1300€ (5 letters +1 digit) or 350€ (using the standard 3 letters + 3 digits format)

Some countries accept personalised plates, but must be preceded by the state/region/district/canton code.

  • Austria : Plate must include state letter (and arms). 3 to 7 characters (min. 1 letter and 1 number). Costs 245€.
  • Slovenia : District code + up to 6 characters.
  • Switzerland : Canton code + any character (minimum 1). Plates are auctioned. The most expensive one was sold for about 100,000€.

This only leaves a few European countries with completely customisable plates (as long as the words chosen are not offensive). These countries are:

CountryPrice per plateCharacter limit
Belgium1000€1 to 8 (hyphens and spaces allowed)
Denmark± 1235€2 o 7 (spaces allowed)
Iceland± 175€2 to 6
Malta1500€1 to 9
Norway±880€2 to 7
Sweden± 600€2 to 7


Outside Europe, most English-speaking countries also allow vanity plates.


CountryPrice per plate
AustraliaAuctions with starting prices between AU$105 and AU$465 (65€ to 300€) per year depending on state.
CanadaCA$100 to CA$336 (65€ to 300€) depending on state (+ around $40 annual fee in some state).
New ZealandNZ$169 to NZ$1400 (100€ to 800€) for new ones, but much more for rare ones in auctions.
South AfricaFrom about 30€ to 600€ depending on length.
United StatesVaries from $10 in Virginia to $100 in D.C. But auctions for rare plates have exceeded $600,000 in Delaware.
 
Last edited:
I have added a few more countries above and created a map to summarise the rules in each European country. The 'prefix' means the letter(s) representing the state, region, district or canton, which is compulsory is most Central European countries, and therefore does not allow for full customisation of the plate.

Personalised_car_plates.png



I have seen all kinds of personal plates in Belgium. The most common are first names or initials, but some people will spend 1000€ to write something as banal and impersonal as Bonjour, Hello, Tesla or Vrrr, among those I have seen around. Personally I find it is overpriced here, but I support the concept as it's a way for people with too much money to pay extra taxes of their own accord. In fact I really don't understand why some governments don't jump on the opportunity to make easy money by legalising it.
 

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