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Quiz about German License Plates Decoded
Quiz about German License Plates Decoded

German License Plates Decoded Trivia Quiz


In comparison to many other countries, Germany has rather bland license plates, but they can contain a lot of information about the car. Let's take a look at what they can tell you.

A multiple-choice quiz by WesleyCrusher. Estimated time: 5 mins.
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Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
394,544
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
309
Awards
Top 20% Quiz
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Question 1 of 10
1. A standard German license plate number consists of three character groups. What is their correct order? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. The first set of letters on a German license plate has a specific meaning, although this is no longer absolute. What does it stand for? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. Along with the seal of the registering authority, you'll find a second seal on rear license plates, showing one of six colors - yellow, green, orange, blue, pink or brown. What does this seal indicate? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. While there are no vanity plates in Germany, some of the letters and digits can, subject to availability, be chosen by the vehicle owner. If Mr. Heinrich Jaeger however wanted to have his initials (H.J.) on a plate for his new motorcycle, he would not be allowed to. Why is that? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. All German license plates are white and bear the blue EU field. However, the characters can come in multiple colors. Which is NOT one of them? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. You may encounter a vehicle that has an "E" appended to the numeric portion of the plate (without a space). This doesn't mean it's hexadecimal, but rather has what meaning? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. Similar to the appended "E", another letter can be appended to the number, signifying that the vehicle in question is at least 30 years old and in sufficiently good condition to be of cultural value. Which letter is this? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. At the right of the plate, there may be two additional small numbers atop each other with a line between them, looking like a fraction, such as 11 over 04. They are used for seasonal plates. If I have the said 11 over 04, when may I operate the car bearing that plate? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. It is possible to see a yellow field on the right edge of the plate, bearing three two-digit numbers above each other. These plates are short-term registrations, valid for a maximum of five days. What special restriction does apply to these plates? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. Who would have the license plate simply marked "0-1"? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. A standard German license plate number consists of three character groups. What is their correct order?

Answer: Two groups of letters followed by a number

The most basic license plate has, on the left, first the blue European Union field with the "D" for Germany, then a first group of one to three letters, then the seal of the district (Kreis), then a second group of letters (one or two) and finally a number of up to four digits. The total number of characters can however be a maximum of eight, so plates with a 3-2-4 code cannot be issued.
2. The first set of letters on a German license plate has a specific meaning, although this is no longer absolute. What does it stand for?

Answer: The district in which the vehicle is registered

The first letter group is normally fixed and indicates the district or city the vehicle is registered in. However, there are some recent exceptions - it is now permissible to keep a license plate after moving to a different city and often, companies, especially rental car companies, have agreements with specific cities or districts to register all their vehicles there, even if they are not normally operating out of that city.

As an example, you will see a lot of rental cars bearing M (Munich) or WI (Wiesbaden) plates.
3. Along with the seal of the registering authority, you'll find a second seal on rear license plates, showing one of six colors - yellow, green, orange, blue, pink or brown. What does this seal indicate?

Answer: The date of the mandatory technical vehicle check

Privately owned vehicles will require their first technical check ("Hauptuntersuchung") after three years and then every two years. Commercially used vehicles need annual checks. The year of the next check is shown by the color of the seal while the month is indicated by its orientation - the numbers 1 to 12 are on the seal and the one pointing straight up is the due month.

There is also a black sector on the seal for easy reference - it will point to the month's position on a clock face (a car due in May will have its black sector in the 5 o'clock position).

A maximum of four colors can legally be on the road at any time, so six are enough to easily spot overdue vehicles in practice.
4. While there are no vanity plates in Germany, some of the letters and digits can, subject to availability, be chosen by the vehicle owner. If Mr. Heinrich Jaeger however wanted to have his initials (H.J.) on a plate for his new motorcycle, he would not be allowed to. Why is that?

Answer: Certain combinations associated with the Nazi era are forbidden

Prior to the EU standardization of plates, certain letters, including the J and Q, were not allowed on plate due to the risk of confusion. However, this is no longer the case. Instead, combinations such as SS, NS and HJ, all associated with the Nazi regime, are forbidden on plates. In addition, a few combinations that would make up naughty words together with the preceding regional letters are also not being issued. (However, EX is available in Stuttgart and quite in demand). Mr. Jaeger will have to be happy with the transposition JH which he can freely get.

The smaller motorcycle plates usually have a maximum of three characters after the regional code, but they can be two letters and one digit.
5. All German license plates are white and bear the blue EU field. However, the characters can come in multiple colors. Which is NOT one of them?

Answer: Blue

Normally, German plates use black lettering on white, but there are also plates with red lettering, temporarily issued for transfers and testing of vehicles not fully registered and those with green letters, given to certain tax-exempt agricultural vehicles and trailers. Those are the only three letter and number colors possible on a plate.
6. You may encounter a vehicle that has an "E" appended to the numeric portion of the plate (without a space). This doesn't mean it's hexadecimal, but rather has what meaning?

Answer: It's an electric vehicle

Electric vehicles (whether entirely electric or as a hybrid with predominantly electric operation and very low emissions) enjoy certain privileges including, of course, parking at charging stations, but also freedom of operation in areas and times where conventional vehicles are restricted due to smog. The additional "E" facilitates quick checking by authorities.
7. Similar to the appended "E", another letter can be appended to the number, signifying that the vehicle in question is at least 30 years old and in sufficiently good condition to be of cultural value. Which letter is this?

Answer: H ("historisch", meaning historic)

The "H plate" as it is known is given to vintage cars and motorcycles at least 30 years of age, mostly in original condition, and usually at least meriting a grade of 3 (satisfactory) on the scale used for grading historic vehicles. For particularly common cars such as early Volkswagen Golf models, the grade requirement will be interpreted more strictly, while very old and rare cars have more relaxed grading.

In any case, safety will of course have to be adequate for the standards of the time. Historic cars enjoy significantly lower tax and insurance rates as well as exemptions in smog zones.
8. At the right of the plate, there may be two additional small numbers atop each other with a line between them, looking like a fraction, such as 11 over 04. They are used for seasonal plates. If I have the said 11 over 04, when may I operate the car bearing that plate?

Answer: November 1 to April 30

The top number of a seasonal registration shows the first month in which I am allowed to use the vehicle and the bottom number shows the last one. The span must be at least two months long and correspond to calendar months and only one span per year can be chosen (doing February to May and August to October on the same plate is not possible).

Many RVs and convertibles make use of this option; convertible owners sometimes have a "winter car" to use during the time when driving a convertible would be less pleasant. 11 to 04 or 10 to 03 are quite common sights on older cars used as such.
9. It is possible to see a yellow field on the right edge of the plate, bearing three two-digit numbers above each other. These plates are short-term registrations, valid for a maximum of five days. What special restriction does apply to these plates?

Answer: They are not valid outside Germany

Short-term registrations are the only kind of registration in Germany that is not valid throughout the European Union. They are issued to private persons similarly to red-lettered registrations (which are given only to corporations). They may be used only for transfer and testing of the vehicle, but this has little relevance in practice as almost any drive can also serve testing purposes (okay, driving to your local DIY store and loading the car with supplies to "test its handling under maximum load" might raise some suspicion).

A similar, internationally valid registration exists with a red field; it is meant for exporting cars. A red-field vehicle must be transferred out of Germany by the date shown on the plate.
10. Who would have the license plate simply marked "0-1"?

Answer: The president of Germany

There are only five special plates using this format: 0-1 is reserved for the president, 0-2 for the chancellor, 0-3 and 0-4 for the foreign secretary and his first deputy and finally 1-1 for the president of the Bundestag (German parliament). It is of course very unlikely that you will ever get close to one of these cars, given that none of these persons will typically be traveling without an extensive security escort.
Source: Author WesleyCrusher

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor gtho4 before going online.
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