Friday, December 23, 2005

Do the letters and numbers on Czech license plates have any meaning?

Until recently the first two or three letters of one’s license plate number depended on the county (okres) where the car was registered. Usually these letters corresponded with the first letters of the local county seat (okresní město); thus residents of the area around Tábor had license plates starting with TA and those around Ústí nad Labem with UL or US. The one exception was Prague whose license plates traditionally began with the letter A. Envy or dislike of Prague means that cars with Prague plates may be honked at or even defaced in the provinces. When counties were eliminated in the year 2000 and replaced with 14 new regions (kraj), this system was changed. Now license plates began with a number and the second place is filled by a letter indicating the region where the car is registered (A=Prague, B=South Moravia, C=South Bohemia, E=Pardubice, etc.). The old way of numbering was known as SPZ or státní poznávací značky (state identification signs) and shows up frequently in crossword puzzle clues.


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