French administration and police plates, before 2009
System used from 1992 to 2009
These plates were used to register a vehicle held by an administration. They had the following format : 00A-0000A (and 000D-0000A for overseas departements)
The first two or three characters indicated the department to which belongs the vehicle (they also may be 2A or 2B for Corsica, or 971 to 976 for overseas departments), the following letter indicated the zone in which the vehicle may usually circulate :
D : authorized to circulate inside the Department and the bordering departments ;
R : authorized to circulate in the Region and the bordering regions ;
N : authorized to circulate in France (National). Since 2005, DZN-1001A can be seen (Direction Zonale), with DZ replacing the departement digits ;
E : authorized to circulate in France and abroad (foreign = "Étranger" in French).
Then follow a serial number and a serial letter from 1001A up to 9999Z.
As Paris (department 75) has the most administrative representations, it has the most advanced registration. In July 1999, it reached 1001F and 3000F in 2000, then 8000F in August 2003 and 4000G in 2007.
Departments with a large population such as 13, 69 or 59 do not exceed the letter C.
The serial numbers does not depend on the zone letter (D, R, N or E), i.e. 75N-6679D can be followed by 75R-6680D.
This system started on 01/01/1992. After having been in white on black background, registration are compulsary issued in black on yellow or white (rear) or white background (front) since 01/01/1993. All former D registrations have been reissued.
Police license plates are organized around 8 "chefs-lieux" (11 up to 2003), in charge of regions. And that chef-lieu department number is always followed with a N. For instance 78N for vehicles located in departements : 77, 78, 91and 95.
The sytem used until December 31st, 1991 was national, without department or zone code and has started in 1948. It had the format 00000 D and then 00000 DA.
The series used were D, DB, DC, DA, DE, DF, DG, DH, DJ in France, DO was used in occupied Germany from 1949 (after CGA was used from 1945 to 1948) and DZ in the overseas departements :
Series D, DA, DB and DE with digits between 10001 and 29999 were reserved to police and ministry vehicles (maximum reached on 31/12/1991 : 28500 DE) ;
Serie DC was reserved to government vehicles in Paris (maximum reached on 31/12/1991 : 11650 DC) ;
Serie DD was not issued, nor numbers 1 to 10000 and 30000 ;
All other administrations had series D, DA, DB, DE, DF, DG, DH and DJ with digits between 30001 and 99999 (maximum reached on 31/12/1991 : 73000 DJ).
Historical sheet of the France official series from 1948 to 1991
From April, 26th 1950 to 1963, Algeria used the AL series with digits between 10000 and 39999 for cars and between 40000 and 99999 for the other vehicles. The following numbers are known : 10061 AL, 10730 AL, 42857 AL and 45278 AL.
In 1960, the "Prefecture de Police" in Paris also issued white on black plates starting with PP, such as PP 063 779. Police motorcycle may have been registered with a serial number only, also on a black background.
The overseas departments use now the same official series as in the mother country. Between 1952 and 1992, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon had used the format D 000 SPM from D 1 SPM to D 351 SPM. The Réunion, and certainly the other overseas departments, used the format 00000 DZ.
The overseas territories used different systems. If Wallis-et-Futuna register its official vehicles in the normal series, the New-Caledonia use black on dark blue license plates with also a normal serial number. The French Polynesia use a different system of which the format is E 0000 (white on black) for the State ("État" in French) vehicles and D 0000 (yellow on black) for the Territory vehicles ("Domaines" in French).
Historical sheet of the Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon official series from 1952 to 1991
Jean-Emmanuel Chevry, Michel Raulhet, Yann Scardis, Bruno Vernhes, Jean-François Żuraw and the SFPI