German numberplates

Did you know that you can tell what area German cars are from?

Have you ever seen a car and wondered where in the country it comes from? In Germany, you can do exactly that – thanks to the numberplate!

Unlike in the UK, where the numberplate tells you how old is the car is, German numberplates begin with a series of letters, which tell you where the car is registered. For example, ‘B’ is the capital city, Berlin, ‘M’ is München (Munich), and so on. Once you know some German place names, you can have a guess at where the numberplate comes from. Here are some more examples from the first few letters of the alphabet:

  • A – Augsburg
  • B – Berlin
  • CUX – Cuxhaven
  • D – Düsseldorf
  • EF – Erfurt
  • FN – Friedrichshafen
  • GAP – Garmisch-Partenkirchen
  • H – Hannover

Did you know …?

  • The system has been in place since 1956.
  • When cars are bought and sold, they get new numberplates, depending on where the new owner lives. (In the UK, cars usually keep their numberplates for life.)
  • There are never more than three letters in the first part of the numberplate.
  • The round symbols after the first set of letters tell you which Bundesland (federal state) the car comes from, and when the TüV (German version of the MOT) will expire.
  • Usually, the larger cities like Berlin (B), Munich (M) and Stuttgart (S) have single-letter codes, with smaller cities like Braunschweig (BS) having two-letter codes. Hamburg (HH) is an exception.
  • You can choose the second set of letters for around 10 Euros, if you want to try and make your numberplate spell something.

Words Ahoy! · Wörter Ahoi!

Deutsch English
das Auto car
das Nummernschild numberplate
die Stadt town
die Straße street / road
die Autobahn motorway