I was considering giving up on writing this article about license plates, because I thought it would just end up being boring. After all, what is so special about license plates?
However, after reading what my Lexiophiles´ mates wrote about the license plates in their countries, I realized that even though all of our license plates have characters and numbers, they are still so different from each other!
So, about license plates in Latin America: They are different for each country – unlike in Europe, where there is a pattern – and it is usually not so hard to recognize where a car comes from.
The license plates are issued by each state – and they have a three-letter combination with a four-digit number with a dot between the letters and numbers. A combination given to one vehicle can never be changed or transferred to another vehicle.
Above the combination is the State abbreviation (SP for São Paulo, RJ for Rio de Janeiro, etc.) and the name of the city in which the vehicle is registered.
The colors of the plates vary according to the use of the vehicle: black letters on gray background for privately-owned vehicles, white on red for paid transportation (such as taxis or buses), black on white for official or governmental use, etc.
Now with a bit less explanation (since these are not my countries) but a few more colors, the license plates from other latinos:
White on black, with a blue capitalized ‘Argentina’ at the top to match the blue color of the flag.
Blue on white, surrounded by a blue band, again with the name of the country. In the upper right corner is a tab with a blue letter indicating the department (state) of the car.
Black on white, with two letters followed by a white five pointed star – probably to match the flag – and by four numerals.
Colombian license plates have black characters on yellow background. They –like in Brazil – don´t have the name of the country written, just the district name at the bottom.
Very nationalist, the license plates in Paraguay have a national flag and the name of the country and it is red and white, two of the national colors.