Up until the year 2000, we had a regional number plate system for cars and motorbikes here in Spain. In Lanzarote, we the prefix was GC, Madrid was M and so on. But the numbers were running out in Madrid and Barcelona, so a new national system was launched at the turn of the century.

The new system is pretty straightforward – all number plates here now have four digits and three letters. No vowels are used in the letters and neither are ñ or Q to save any confusion with N and O. Number plates for private vehicles are black letters on a white background and carry the EU flag with the letters ES, for España.

The numbering system is purely sequential, so it was all started off with 0001 BBB. Once 9999 BBB was reached, it switched to 0001 BBC, and so on. There isn’t any time limit, so you can’t accurately identify a car’s age from the plate. For example, we bought one of the first “K” plate cars in Spain – our reg is KBB – and at the time of writing, we have just seen the first “L” reg cars, so it took 2.5 years to get through the letter K.

Blue Number Plates For Taxis

In 2018 a new law was enacted requiring licensed taxis to use a blue rear number plate – this was aimed at helping people easily identify a proper taxi, as opposed to an Uber or other unofficial taxi service.

Taxi owners had a year to comply with the new law, and many left it until the last minute.

Other Unusual Plates

Official vehicles carry letters at the start of their number plates, so the army uses ET, the navy FN and Policia Nacional uses CNP.

Diplomatic vehicles use CD, and registered classic cars carry H as a prefix.

The only cars allowed on Spanish roads without a number plate are those driven by the King of Spain. His cars have a red number plate with no numbers or letters, just a simple gold crown on them.



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