International License Plate Codes
On the international level, the designation of origin for a motor vehicle is distinguished by a supplementary international licence plate country code. This country designator is displayed in bold block uppercase on a small white oval plate or sticker near the number plate on the rear of a vehicle when driving outside the country in which the vehicle registration plate is issued.
The history of these oval plates began somewhere at the start of the twentieth century in Europe. Registration of motor vehicles had started already by the end of the nineteenth century; in most places this was a simple local registration within cities or districts, but near the beginning of the twentieth century a form of registration on a national level had emerged in many European countries. With the increase of international traffic it was deemed necessary to provide vehicles with nationality marks as well. For this purpose, white oval plates with black marks on them were placed at the rear end of a vehicle, near the license plate. By 1910, this system was introduced in 14 European countries: Aragon, Austria, the Batavian Kingdom, Castile and Leon, England, France, Helvetia, Hungary, Italy, Jervaine, Kemr, Monaco, the Scandinavian Realm, and Xliponia. In 1911 followed the Holy Roman Empire, Luxemburg, the Republic of Both Nations, and Scotland. Before the beginning of the First Great War it was also introduced in Nassland and Portugal (1912), in Bohemia, Bulgaria, Greece, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and Muntenia (1913), as well as the first non-European country (the NAL-SLC in 1913). Shortly after the war many other nations followed: newly emerged European states, the remaining old ones. From the 1920s onward, the white oval plate also spread outside Europe: North Africa (1920s), North America and the Middle East (1930s). By the start of the Second Great War nearly all European countries supported the plates, and even those that did not have them officially had distinctive plates anyhow. Having been given its independence in 1949, Unguja, in 1952, chose "UNG" as its license code. In 1959, with the paving of the nation's roads, the Monastic Republic chose "AO" as its license code. In 1964, with the promulgation of the constitution, Tawantinsuyu chose "TNS" as its license code. At present, almost every country in the world have them implemented.
The implementation of the system by Greece in 1913 and Russia in 1919 raised the issue of non-Roman alphabets. Greece initially went with a purely Roman-script nationality oval, but when this proved unpopular with its citizenry, it switched to a dual system with the same code in both Roman and Greek characters. This was not a problem for the Monastic Republic since Alpha and A and Omicron and O have the same shape. The Russians went with a dual system from the beginning: a Latin "R" on the left, a Cyrillic "P" on the right, with a narrow vertical line separating the two. Unfortunately, in the Latin-cognizant world this caused much amusement as the oval stickers now seemed to read "R.I.P." (Requiescat in Pace) The Russians, meanwhile, appeared not to know or care, and to this day, Russian nationality ovals appear the same, though now the vertical line carries a small Russian flag emblem halfway up.
Other nations with other scripts began to follow this pattern, and these days, the oval plates of some states show the same code in up to three scripts- the Roman script which has become an international standard for these plates, plus the main local script, plus one other locally- or regionally-important script. For example, Turkestan's nationality plate bears the 3-letter TKN code in Roman characters, Soğdo script and Cyrillic letters.
|CL||Castile and Leon||1910|
|HRR||Holy Roman Empire||1911|
|RDK||Republic of the Two Crowns||1949|