This is maybe a very specific topic, but it’s quite interesting. As a tourist you’ll often see license plates on cars. But did you ever think about what they say? we’ll tell you:
In Germany, after the Second World War, a new license plate system was established in 1956. It showed the regional letters, where the car was registered, followed by letters and a number. The letters and numbers were black on white ground. This system was adopted when the “Euro-license-plates” were introduced in the early 2000s.
But let’s focus on the regional identifying letters. In Munich you’ll see most often the “M” sign, followed by letters and numbers, for example “M-XY 1234”.
The M stands for “Munich”. There is no difference between the city of Munich and the county of Munich (German: Landkreis München). You’ll also find other regional identifying letters on cars in Munich. Here are the most common ones:
FFB: County of Fürstenfeldbruck – a neighbouring county west of the city.
DAH: County of Dachau – the north western neighbouring county.
FS: County of Freising – neighbouring county in the north.
ED: County of Erding – neighbouring county in the north east.
EBE: County of Ebersberg – neighbouring county in the east
MB: County of Miesbach – neighbouring county in the south
STA: County of Starnberg – neighbouring county in the south-west
TÖL: County of Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen – neighbouring county in the south
But there are more. Before 1972 there were more counties in Bavaria. But in 1972 there was a territorial reform and some counties disappeared or were merged. For Example in the south of Munich there were the counties of “Bad Tölz” (TÖL) and the county of “Wolfratshausen” (WOR). In 1972 the main parts were merged to the county “Bad Tölz – Wolfratshausen”. This county used “TÖL” for Bad Tölz where the county administration is located. In 2013 the Bavarian Gouvernment decided to reintroduce the old identifying letters. So today, as a citizen you can choose between “TÖL” or “WOR”. This reintroduction was based on a citizens’ initiative.
By the way… did you know that in Germany, the car plate administration offices do not use certain combinations?
In the “Fahrzeugzulassungsverordnung” (vehicle registration decree) it is said that combinations of identyfing letters/numbers which could offend morality should not be used.
MO-RD XXXX (Mord = murder)
AC-AB XXXX (ACAB = All Cops Are Bastards)
but also a lot of signs that implicate relations to Nazi Germany. For Example
XX-KZ XXXX (KZ Konzentrationslager, concentration camp)
XX-NS XXXX (National Socialism)