Car license plates special license plates at a glance

Have you ever heard of the carbon license plate? What do green and red license plates actually mean?? And what is the difference between a change and a seasonal license plate? What it is about the different license plates, what advantages they offer and who can use the special license plates, you will learn in this article.

The standard: car license plate EU

The Euro license plate is the conventional standard license plate within the EU. It is provided on the left edge with a blue bar, in which are the stars of the European flag. Below this is the country license plate with the corresponding abbreviation, z.B. "D" for Germany. Next to the blue bar follow one to three letters, which indicate the administrative district of the registration authority.

By the way, here's how registering your car works!

The inspection sticker shows when the next main inspection is due. The stamp sticker contains the coat of arms of the state and the name of the registration authority. To the right of this is the identification number, consisting of one to two letters as well as one to four digits. This part can be individually designed as a desired license plate.

Transfer license plate

The transfer license plate is a generic term for the short-term license plate, the export license plate and the red license plates. It is used either during the domestic or foreign transfer of new or. The number plate is used for vehicles that have already been deregistered or for test drives. If you are transporting several cars, you will also need several transfer plates. To find out how the different types of license plates for transfers differ, click here.

Attention: The license plate must be clean and legible at all times. You can find out how to keep your car clean in our comprehensive guide to washing your car yourself.

Short-term license plate / 5-day license plate / daily license plate

The short-term license plate, also called 5-day license plate or simply day license plate, is valid for five days and is suitable for transfer and test drives in Germany. Although the short-term license plate is generally recognized within the EU, there is no legal entitlement to it. However, it is forbidden to drive abroad with the day license plate in order to import a vehicle into Germany. The export license plate is intended for these purposes. In contrast to the red license plate, the short-term license plate may also be used by private individuals.

short-term license plate

The daily license plate is recognizable by a yellow field on the right side, in which the expiration date is stamped with day, month and year. In addition, the identification number begins with an 03 or 04. A vehicle with a short-term license plate may only participate in road traffic if it has a valid general inspection (HU). The only exception: The trip to the HU may be started even without TuV. If defects are found there, you may also start the journey to the workshop without a valid MOT, provided that the motor vehicle has been classified as roadworthy.

Export license plate / customs license plate / export license plate

The export license plate, also known as customs license plate or export license plate, is intended for the permanent export of a vehicle and is valid for a maximum of 12 months. It can be recognized by the red bar on the right side, in which the validity date is noted.

export license plate for export

The export license plate is registered in the country from which the vehicle is exported. So if you want to import a vehicle from abroad to Germany, apply for the customs license plate in the corresponding country. Alternatively, you can also import the vehicle on a trailer or car transporter, in which case you do not need an export license plate.

Red license plates

The red special license plates also fall into the category "transfer license plates", but these are reserved for the commercial sector. Exception here is the red 07 license plate for classic cars. You can recognize red license plates by the red lettering, the red frame and the respective number abbreviation (05, 06 or 07) in the identification number.

Red 05 license plate

The red 05 license plate is used by technical inspection bodies and monitoring organizations. Otherwise, it is very similar to the red 06 license plate.

Red 06 license plate

The red 06 license plate is also known as a "dealer license plate" and applies to vehicle manufacturers, workshops, parts manufacturers and dealers who are on a test drive, trial run or transfer journey. Private individuals as well as commercial and purpose trips are excluded. A commercial seller is therefore not allowed to make private journeys with the 06 license plate. For this reason, a logbook and a special vehicle registration book must be kept on hand. In the vehicle registration book, each vehicle has a separate page.

The transfer with the red license plate may take place within the EU. Unlike the short-term license plate, the dealer license plate is not vehicle-specific. A dealer may therefore use the same 06 license plate for all his sales vehicles. However, only dealers and manufacturers classified as "reliable" receive the coveted red vehicle license plate. The registration is valid for an initial period of 12 months, but can be extended indefinitely if it is kept correctly. In addition, the registration authority is authorized to make an unannounced visit at any time and to withdraw the red license plate in the event of violations.

Red 07 license plate

Also known as red classic car license plate, the 07 license plate can be used for several classic cars. The classic car does not have to be registered or have passed the main inspection. Instead, a classic car certificate is due, which you must present when applying for the 07 license plate.

red 07 license plate for classic cars

The red classic car license plate is designed for purpose-bound journeys for the presentation and maintenance of classic cars, such as e.B. Vintage car meetings or workshop visits. The advantage of the red 07 license plate lies in the tax benefit.

H license plate

The H license plate, i.e. the historic license plate, is also suitable for classic cars. Here, however, in contrast to the red 07 license plate, it is a matter of registered classic cars. The license plate is assigned to a specific vehicle and cannot be changed. The following requirements must be met by a motor vehicle in order to be considered a classic car and thus receive the H license plate:

The historic license plate also comes with a tax reduction. In addition the obligation for the environmental badge is void for the old timer.

Tip: For more information about classic cars and the special tax and insurance regulations, see our classic car guide.

Interchangeable license plates

The interchangeable license plate allows the vehicle owner to drive two vehicles of the same vehicle class (M1, L, O1 or classic cars with H license plates) alternately. This does not apply to vehicles with red, seasonal or transfer license plates. Both vehicles must have a valid general inspection and the tax and insurance costs are the same for both vehicles.

Note: From 2021, the vehicle tax for vehicles with high CO2 emissions will increase. You can read more about this in our article on the new vehicle tax 2021.

A large cost saving is not to be obtained with the change license plate therefore. Although some insurers offer special rates for interchangeable license plates, you also save at most ca. 10 percent. So if you want to use both vehicles in parallel, you have to change the license plate every time without saving much money. A changeable license plate is therefore usually only worthwhile in exceptional cases, e.g.B. if you want to use it in combination of car and camper or classic car and everyday car.

The interchangeable license plate consists of two parts: On the one hand, the common part, which visually resembles the normal EU license plate, but is marked with a small "W". In addition, both motor vehicles have a vehicle-related part. This is an extension of the license plate, which is permanently mounted on the vehicle. It contains the last digit of the changeable license plate, the HU sticker and the letter combination from the common part. The vehicle-related part is important, because both vehicles are permanently recognizable as registered, even if the interchangeable license plate is not attached. In fact, public parking without a license plate is prohibited and subject to a fine.

Seasonal license plate

The seasonal license plate is ideal for vehicles that are not driven during certain seasons. Typically these are convertibles, caravans and motorcycles. A vehicle with a seasonal license plate may only be used on public roads for a period of between eight weeks and eleven months, as determined by the owner. This also includes public parking. In the off-season, you must park the vehicle in a private parking lot, such as a parking lot.B. a garage, parked.

seasonal license plates

You recognize the seasonal license plate by two numbers on the right edge. These indicate in months from when to when the vehicle is registered. The advantage of the seasonal license plate is that you pay the vehicle tax and insurance only during the period of use, without having to register and deregister the vehicle every year. How to save time and money.

Diplomatic license plate

The diplomatic license plate is, as the name suggests, reserved for diplomats only. This includes e.g.B. Ambassador, consul and head of an international organization. These persons enjoy the privilege of diplomatic immunity. This means that diplomats cannot be prosecuted for misdemeanors. In addition, they have free travel at security barriers and are exempt from vehicle tax.

In the event of an accident, the occupants of a vehicle with diplomatic plates receive preferential treatment. The license plate is personal, but an exemption can be applied for the chauffeur.

0 license plate

The 0 license plate is given to diplomats of particularly high rank and can be recognized by the zero, followed by the country code and then the rank number.

0-license plate diplomat

Green license plate

The green license plate is similar to the standard license plate, but differs in terms of the green lettering. Which motor vehicle receives a green license plate depends on the use and not on the type of vehicle. The following uses are intended for the green license plate:

  • Vehicles for winter service / street cleaning
  • Agricultural or forestry vehicles
  • Milk transporter
  • Aid organizations
  • Show business
  • Rescue vehicles
  • Disabled transport
  • Special trailers for sports equipment
  • Animal transport (for sporting purposes)
  • Work machines with a maximum design speed of 20 km/h

It must be possible to prove the purpose of use at any time, otherwise there is a risk of being charged with tax evasion. Vehicles with green license plates are exempt from vehicle tax. Vehicle insurance, on the other hand, must be paid regularly.

E license plate

Pure battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles are marked with an "E" after the identification number. The E license plate entitles the holder to use bus lanes and in many cities to park free of charge.

Tip: Find out more about the benefits and requirements of an E license plate here!

electric car with e license plate

Note: You can save even more money with the new environmental bonus for electric cars!

3D license plate

The 3D license plate differs only in appearance and material from the normal vehicle license plate. Otherwise it fulfills all requirements of a standard license plate. The three-dimensional look is created by the letters, which are not stamped into the plate, but are placed on the license plate and firmly connected. This procedure is called plug embossing. In contrast to conventional license plates, the 3D license plate is made of plastic, which makes it particularly flexible, durable and environmentally friendly in production. In the production process, approx. 75 percent less CO2 than a vehicle license plate made of aluminum. In addition, the plastic 3D license plate is not susceptible to rust or dents.

Carbon license plates

Fine tuning down to the last detail: Those who want it to be a little fancier can opt for a carbon license plate. The 3D license plate with a noble shimmering carbon surface is especially popular among fine tuners.

Leasing license plate

Is there a special license plate for leased cars?? The answer is no. Depending on the agreement, either the lessor or lessee will take care of registration. Often the lessee is responsible for registering the car. This will also be entered as the vehicle owner. As the owner, however, the lessor retains the vehicle title after registration. You do not need a transfer plate, because the transfer is done by the dealer when leasing.


When leasing, just like when buying, you have the option of using the different special license plates. However, this has no effect on the leasing rate. If you bspw. If you use a seasonal license plate, the leasing rate will still be due for the entire year. You can find more information about leasing in our big leasing guidebook.