Vehicle registration plates of Ireland

Vehicle registration plates of Ireland

thumb|250px|Graphical_example_of_pre_1987_standard_rear_Irish_numberplate_for_County Dublin]

Registration marks on Number plates in Ireland issued since 1987 have the format YY-CC-SSSSSS where the components are:

* YY — a 2-digit year (e.g. 87 for 1987; 05 for 2005)
* CC — a 1- or 2-character county identifier (e.g. D for Dublin; SO for Sligo).
* SSSSSS — a 1- to 6-digit sequence number, starting with the first vehicle registered in the county that year.

Since 1991, the design of the standard Irish number plate has been based on European standard guidelines, with a blue band to the left of the plate containing the 12 stars of the European flag and the country identifier IRL. The rest of the plate has a white background with black characters. Unlike legal requirements in most other European countries, a standard uniform character font is not required. The rules simply require legible black characters, no more than 70 mm high and 36 mm wide, on a white reflective background. The result is that a large variety of perfectly legal font styles may be seen, on either pressed aluminium or acrylic plates, both of which are allowed [ 1] . Despite the rather relaxed lack of a specified font, the hyphen between the lettering must lie between the minimum dimensions of 13mm x 10mm or the maximum dimension of 22mm x 10mm. Also required is the full Irish language name of the county which must be positioned above the identifier. Vehicle owners may be fined if the plate's format does not meet the requirements and will most certainly automatically fail government vehicle testing NCT which the vehicle is required to undergo on a two-yearly basis.

A vehicle's number plate is determined when it is first registered, the county code being taken from the first owner's postal address. Registration remains fixed on the one vehicle until it is de-registered (exported, destroyed, etc), and cannot be transferred to other vehicles.


From 1903, the system used in Ireland was part of the original British system of identifiers. This was superseded in the Republic of Ireland in 1987, but remains in use in Northern Ireland.

Each administrative county was allocated a 2-letter code, with plates having formats "CC SSSS", "LCC SSS", "SSSS CC", "SSS LCC" or (currently in Northern Ireland) "LCC SSSS", where CC is the county code, L a sequence letter and SSS/SSSS a sequence number of up 3/4 digits. When all combinations for a county were exhausted, a new 2-letter code was allocated (chiefly to Dublin and Belfast which had the most cars). All codes contained either I or Z, to avoid clashing with other British codes. Originally, plates had white or silver letters on a black background. Later this was changed to black-on-white at the front and black-on-red at the back (black-on-yellow in Northern Ireland).

In 1952, the codes for the City of Dublin and County Dublin were merged. In 1974, the codes for City of Cork and County Cork were merged.

Irish vehicle registration marks under the old scheme could be transferred to Britain for re-registration on other vehicles, even after Irish independence, and even though they could not be re-used within Ireland. The vowel "I" in many combinations made these attractive for collectors. The Kilkenny index "VIP 1" has fetched a record price at auction. Since 1987, such exports have been impossible, even for old-format registrations, although those already exported may still be re-transferred.

The 1987 scheme allocated single-letter codes to the county boroughs (including those shared with counties) and 2-letter codes to the others. Normally these are the initial and final letter of the English-language name of the county (except where duplicates would result). The controversy of using English as the basis led to the addition of the Irish language name on physical plates issued from 1991.

Pre 1987

Old-style (pre-1987) Irish vehicle registration plates followed the system introduced in the UK in 1904: the plate usually contained a group of two to three letters, very old ones were allocated only one letter which indicated the town of first registration. In general, the use of the letters "I" and "Z" were allocated to vehicles registered on the island of Ireland, which was then completely part of the United Kingdom.

Pre 1987 mark codes

Counties in italics are in Northern Ireland and hence still use the 1904 system.

Current implementation

Currently, the Revenue Commissioners, the Irish Government agency responsible for vehicle registration, are planning to add new codes for the administrative counties currently sharing codes. These are rumoured to be CK (County Cork), GY (County Galway), DR (Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown), FL (Fingal), and SN (South Dublin) respectively;Fact|date=February 2007 but have not been introduced as of yet.

Sequence numbers may be reserved on completion of the relevant documents and payment of €315.

* Most registration numbers can be reserved, with the exception of the first number of each year issued in Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Waterford as these are reserved for the respective Mayor/Lord Mayor of these cities. [] Thus, for example, in the year 2008, Lord Mayor Cllr. Paddy Bourke , the Lord Mayor of Dublin was entitled to receive the registration plate 08-D-1 on his official vehicle.
* Luxury cars with numeric names are often registered with a matching, usually pre-reserved sequence number: for example 06-D-911 on a Porsche 911 or 06-D-750 BMW 750.
* Dublin radio station FM 104 tend to register their vehicles with reserved number sequences ending with "104", e.g. 05-D-38104.

Imported used cars are registered based on year of first registration in their country of original registration rather than year of import.

Vehicles registered to the Irish Defence Forces have plates with silver letters on black background. These do not feature the Irish-language county name.

There are only two pre-1987 codes still issued in the Republic of Ireland.
* "ZZ", administered by the AA Ireland as agents for the Revenue Commissioners, is given to registrants who are based outside the state and who only intend keeping the vehicle within the republic of Ireland for a period not exceeding one month. This form of temporary registration is usually used for vehicles that are purchased within the Republic of Ireland but exported by its new owner to another country directly after purchase. The format of the code is ZZ followed by a five digit number.
* "ZV", which can be selected as an alternative to the current scheme when registering a vehicle older than 30 years for the first time in Ireland.

Current index mark codes

EU Standardised vehicle registration plates

The common EU format was introduced by [ Council Regulation (EC) No 2411/98 of 3 November 1998] and entered into force on the 11 Nov 1998. It was based on a model registration plate which several member states had introduced, e.g. Ireland in [ 1991] , Portugal in 1992, Italy and Germany in [ 1994] . (This 'common format' is claimed to be a registered design - number 2053070 - registered at the UK Patent office by David and Nansi Mottram in 1995 [] . No successful challenge has been launched upon the registered design to date.)

ee also

*Vehicle registration plate
*British car number plates
*List of international license plate codes
*Vienna Convention on Road Traffic

External links

* [ A Guide to Registration Marks in Ireland and the UK]
* [ Allocation of British registrations] has a section on the former Irish system
* [ U.K. and R.O.I. Vehicle Registration Marks]
* [ A Brief History Lesson - Registrations]

*Statutory Instruments:
** [ Road Vehicles (Index Marks) Regulations, 1958] Consolidated list of Index Marks from "Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations, 1921" to "1958"
** Road Vehicles (Index Marks) Regulations - Amendments 1958-86 [ 1958-1] , [ 1958-2] , [ 1959-1] , [ 1959-2] , [ 1959-3] , [ 1960-1] , [ 1960-2] , [ 1961] , [ 1963] , [ 1964] , [ 1965] , [ 1967] , [ 1968] , [ 1970] , [ 1981] , [ 1982] , [ 1986] , [ 1986(new system)]
** "ZZ" Temporary Registration [ Information Note] [ 1992-1] [ 1992-2]
** "ZV" Registration [ 1991] [ 1992] Veteran and Vintage cars (over 30 years old) - Imported or Irish re-registered
** Motor Trade Licences Plates [ S.I. No. 409 of 1992] and [ S.I. No. 23 of 1993]
** [ Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations, 1958] Old licence plate format
** [ Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations, 1969] Updated old licence plate format
** [ Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations, 1986] Introduction of new motor vehicle registration system
** [ Road Vehicles (Index Marks) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations, 1986] Index Marks for new registration system
** [ Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations, 1987] Registration of used imported vehicles
** [ Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations, 1990] Introduction of EU model plate
** [ Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations, 1991] ZV registration - vintage imported vehicles
** [ Vehicle Registration and Taxation Regulations, 1992] Updated registration plates specification
** [ Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations, 1992] Consolidation of Regulations dating back to 1982
** [ Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations, 1992] Trade Licences/Plates for motor traders
** [ Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations, 1993] Updated Trade Licences/Plates for motor traders
** [ Vehicle Registration and Taxation (Amendment) Regulations, 1999] Updated registration plates specification
* [ Vehicle registration plates in Ireland]
* [ Revenue Commissioners Format of Vehicle Registration Plates]
* [ Council Regulation (EC) No 2411/98 of 3 November 1998] EU standardised number plate
* [ Photographs taken by Olav Arne Brekke of license plates from around the world]
* [ License Plates of the World]
* [ License Plate Mania]

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