Understanding your car registration number

In France, the car registration number is assigned to a vehicle for life in a specific format with 2 letters, 1 dash, 3 numbers, 1 dash and 2 letters: AA-001-AA. Vehicles retain this registration number for life until they are destroyed or exported. The license plate includes this number.

The territorial identifier is mandatory. It is composed of the number of the department that the owner of the vehicle will have chosen. Thus a West Indian, a Corsican, a Breton living in the Ile de France can choose to display the region-department of his choice. The territorial registration identifier is therefore the choice of the owner and includes a department number and the regional emblem. Stickers are not accepted. To do so, vehicle owners must contact a professional license plate fitter.

The license plates in France are written in black on a white background, except for vintage vehicles which can keep their authenticity with license numbers written in white on a black background.

How do I get my car registration number?

Vehicle owners can go to the prefecture to make their request or contact a professional who is authorized and/or approved. It is also possible to apply online to obtain a registration number.

Several tens of thousands of garages are authorized on the French territory to process registration applications. Having signed an agreement with the Ministry of the Interior, these professionals will be able to register your application for registration on the spot and give you an operation voucher. This voucher, valid for 4 days, will allow you to pay the taxes at the prefecture. The professional authorized and approved by the Ministry of Finance may also collect the amount of taxes on behalf of the Treasury.

Can I choose my car registration number?

Since the introduction of the SIV in 2009, it is no longer possible to choose your registration number. If you have an unsightly license plate number, such as PD, PQ, PT, WC…unfortunately there is no solution. If you are re-registering, you can always try to order your registration certificate online. Some unsightly combinations can potentially be avoided.

The registration system is an automatically calculated sequence that increments every second. It is a system designed to last for many years (80 years according to some estimates). The numbering principle is as follows:

  • From AA-001-AA to AA-999-AA (numbers change first)
  • From AA-001-AB to AA-999-AZ (2nd element of the letter on the right evolves)
  • From AA-001-BA to AA-999-ZZ (1st element of the right letter evolves)
  • From AB-001-AA to AZ-999-ZZ (2nd element of the left letter evolves)
  • From BA-001-AA to ZZ-999-ZZ (1st element of the left letter is changing)

How do I change my license plate number?

It is not possible to have a personalized registration number. If a vehicle owner moves, he or she is no longer required to change the vehicle registration number. This also applies to the change of the vehicle registration document. A simple notification of a change of address is all it takes to receive a sticker.

A guide to first-time registration

You have decided to buy a new car and you have to deal with all the administrative procedures that are often laborious. You will have two options for obtaining your certificate, as the dealer can perform these formalities. Be careful, however, because there are often additional costs, it does not hesitate to apply a margin, the cost will then be more consistent, it depends on the car. To carry out its first registration, it is possible to turn to a specialized site which will be able to accompany you during all the stages.

  • You will then have a form to fill in with all the essential data such as the fiscal power.
  • This information is essential to determine the price of the car registration.
  • This is an approved service, so you will have an official card that you can present to the dealer.
  • This document is essential, along with the insurance certificate, to successfully recover the vehicle from this professional.

It should be noted that the steps are the same whether you want to buy a new or used car. Moreover, thanks to the Internet, you will have a treatment under 24 hours, that makes it possible to have quickly the proof since the final car registration document will be sent within a few days with a registered letter to your residence. However, you will need to provide your dealer with proof of ownership. Don’t forget to take the time to fill out the form, because it only takes one mistake to get the wrong registration certificate and it won’t match your vehicle. This could be problematic during a police check. You can then take advantage of a customized accompaniment through the Internet to avoid these inconveniences. The same applies if the steps for selling a used vehicle have not been properly taken



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