Information on Finnish license plates


General info

(NOTE: The text in this file is about Finnish plates but it does NOT include the Åland plates.)

The current license plate design dates back to the early seventies... the exact year was 1972.

The standard plates are black&white - black text on white background. The colors were vice
versa in the former plates, which we know now as black plates and museum plates.
The combinations of the museum plates always begin with the letters MR (and that stands for
"museorekisteri", museum registration). Nowadays MA ("museoajoneuvo", museum vehicle) is
also used.

The basic format for the combinations is ABC-123, but there are also shorter types.
See them below. The shorter plates have their own letter combinations, see something
about them
here.
ABC-12ABC-1AB-123AB-12AB-1
As you can see, the combination must consist of  2 or 3 letters and 1 to 3 digits.
Here with the basic plate format I'll be often using the terms first letter (A), middle letter (B)
and last letter (C). That way these things should be easier to understand.

There are also some restrictions concerning the letters...
D, Q, W, Å, Ä and Ö are normally not allowed at any positions. P as a first letter is for trailers,
and so is W which just replaced P in the summer of 1999. Since August 1999, there hasn't really
been restrictions in vanity plate letters, but that doesn't affect the normally issued series.
D has been available for vanity plate use already since the summer of 1998.


The letter combinations

In 1972, the new plate system started with the first letters A, H, K, L, M, O, R, S, T, U, V, X.

In 1985, first letters B and E replaced the finished A and T.

In 1987, first letters I and Z replaced the finished H and U.

In 10/1989 the last six of the first letters (C, F, G, J, N, Y) were introduced... along with
the major change. The whole letter system became in a way much clearer and consistent...
it's now based on the skipped middle letters.
With the following links you can study these things more... you won't understand anything if
I tried to explain it all here. The links lead to very simple documents which should clarify the
history for each letter.

A B C E F G H I J K L M N O R S T U V X Y Z

Noticed how the letters were arranged in special groups in the documents?
Well, in the past the letters were divided into province groups - every province
in Finland had its own first letters. It's not that way anymore, they're all quite
mixed up now.


The digit combinations

The numeral part of the combination can't begin with a zero. Normally, only numbers
from 100 to 999 are used. The
shorter plates (5 characters max.) are usually attached
to vehicles that don't have enough plate space for the standard plates, mainly vehicles
from the USA. But check out a little list of typical "short plate vehicles" here. And yes,
of course, the vanity plates can also have a shorter numeral part (1...99).

In the older vehicles (date of registration unknown), the last digit sets the last possible month
for the motor vehicle inspection. Equivalence table here.


The future

This last section deals with the middle letters - the most important part of the combinations...
if you're interested in the past and the future of the plates.
Till 10/1989 some letters were always skipped over in the middle letters and the last letters:
F, G, I, Y and Z. Why? Probably that had something to do with those letters being a little similar
than some others... for example V and Y can accidentally mix up in some circumstances.
Anyway, the end of 1989 gave those letters a new chance... in fact, the whole alphabetical system
kind of stopped and gave room for the skipped letters, starting with the middle letter F.
Now is the time to look
up and check all this in the VERY simple figures I've made.

Well, after the letter F we got G... and after that I and then Y (the newest middle letter today).
That's about it... it's obvious that Z will be the next middle letter... we'll see it maybe in the
latter half of 2000. And then what? When will the combinations run out? That's not a problem
in MANY years... there are six first letters which just started rolling forward in 1989...
they'll give us a lot of new combinations for the future... and of course, the skipped last letters
will be enough for more than many years. "Skipped last letters?", you may ask. I'm through
with this explaining... I'll put an universal example here, using letter A.
So, that mess below should be the answer to all questions about this thing...

(NOTE: At the end I've left some combinations out to make this fit also the smaller screen resolutions.)


This is what we got 1972-1985:

AAA AAB AAC AAE AAH AAJ AAK AAL AAM AAN AAO AAP AAR AAS AAT AAU AAV AAX

ABA ABB ABC ABE ABH ABJ ABK ABL ABM ABN ABO ABP ABR ABS ABT ABU ABV ABX

ACA ACB ACC ACE ACH ACJ ACK ACL ACM ACN ACO ACP ACR ACS ACT ACU ACV ACX

AEA AEB AEC AEE AEH AEJ AEK AEL AEM AEN AEO AEP AER AES AET AEU AEV AEX

AHA AHB AHC AHE AHH AHJ AHK AHL AHM AHN AHO AHP AHR AHS AHT AHU AHV AHX

AJA AJB AJC AJE AJH AJJ AJK AJL AJM AJN AJO AJP AJR AJS AJT AJU AJV AJX

AKA AKB AKC AKE AKH AKJ AKK AKL AKM AKN AKO AKP AKR AKS AKT AKU AKV AKX

ALA ALB ALC ALE ALH ALJ ALK ALL ALM ALN ALO ALP ALR ALS ALT ALU ALV ALX

AMA AMB AMC AME AMH AMJ AMK AML AMM AMN AMO AMP AMR AMS AMT AMU AMV AMX

ANA ANB ANC ANE ANH ANJ ANK ANL ANM ANN ANO ANP ANR ANS ANT ANU ANV ANX

AOA AOB AOC AOE AOH AOJ AOK AOL AOM AON AOO AOP AOR AOS AOT AOU AOV AOX

APA APB APC APE APH APJ APK APL APM APN APO APP APR APS APT APU APV APX

ARA ARB ARC ARE ARH ARJ ARK ARL ARM ARN ARO ARP ARR ARS ART ARU ARV ARX

ASA ASB ASC ASE ASH ASJ ASK ASL ASM ASN ASO ASP ASR ASS AST ASU ASV ASX

ATA ATB ATC ATE ATH ATJ ATK ATL ATM ATN ATO ATP ATR ATS ATT ATU ATV ATX

AUA AUB AUC AUE AUH AUJ AUK AUL AUM AUN AUO AUP AUR AUS AUT AUU AUV AUX

AVA AVB AVC AVE AVH AVJ AVK AVL AVM AVN AVO AVP AVR AVS AVT AVU AVV AVX

AXA AXB AXC AXE AXH AXJ AXK AXL AXM AXN AXO AXP AXR AXS AXT AXU AXV AXX


This is what we've been given since 1989:

AFA AFB AFC AFE AFF AFG AFH AFI ... AFP AFR AFS AFT AFU AFV AFX AFY AFZ

AGA AGB AGC AGE AGF AGG AGH AGI ... AGP AGR AGS AGT AGU AGV AGX AGY AGZ

AIA AIB AIC AIE AIF AIG AIH AII ... AIP AIR AIS AIT AIU AIV AIX AIY AIZ

AYA AYB AYC AYE AYF AYG AYH AYI ... AYP AYR AYS AYT AYU AYV AYX AYY AYZ

AZ* (click for the newer series)


And this is what we'll probably have in the near future:

AAF AAG AAI AAY AAZ ABF ABG ABI ABY ABZ ACF ACG ACI ACY ACZ

AEF AEG AEI AEY AEZ AHF AHG AHI AHY AHZ AJF AJG AJI AJY AJZ

AKF AKG AKI AKY AKZ ALF ALG ALI ALY ALZ AMF AMG AMI AMY AMZ

ANF ANG ANI ANY ANZ AOF AOG AOI AOY AOZ APF APG API APY APZ

ARF ARG ARI ARY ARZ ASF ASG ASI ASY ASZ ATF ATG ATI ATY ATZ

AUF AUG AUI AUY AUZ AVF AVG AVI AVY AVZ AXF AXG AXI AXY AXZ

And after all this... who knows what. Recycling of the old series? I hope not. A new plate
format? Well, I hope they'll choose the formats ABCD-12 and ABCD-1 instead of AB-1234
which was still used in trailers some years ago. The ABCD-format offers more possibilities
for vanity plates! And that plate type exists, sort of, 'cause we've already seen that kind of plates
on some people's walls and in some car magazines, serving only ornamental purposes though.
Such as AUTO-98 and others.

Remarkable update, July 2000: For the first letter Z, the releasing of the suspended series
has begun, starting with series ZJA...ZJC! Also series like HAF and HCF have been spotted!
So the system goes slightly different what expected, it's AAF, ABF, ACF ...


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