Weblog Ken – 10 years of personalized license plates in Belgium: what have we learned?

Ken Divjak – Our man in Flanders

Belgian license plate

It could be that the ‘perso plate’ will also be introduced in the Netherlands. In Belgium, the option has now existed for ten years, with supporters and opponents.

According to the latest figures, there are 46,000 personalized license plates circulating in Belgium. Since the introduction of the so-called personal plate in 2014, demand has only increased, with the exception of the period when the price for such a license plate briefly rose from €1,000 to €2,000.

Cash register

For fans of personalized license plates, €1,000 is apparently okay, but at €2,000 it becomes expensive. You can take the latter literally, judging by the number of attempts at traffic humor. What did you think, for example, of the couple who wrote HIHIHI on his car and HAHAHA on hers? Or the home nurse who paid to have PUSSY BITCH hanging on her bumpers? You clearly cannot buy good taste with such a license plate, but that will be of no use to the Belgian state. Even at €1,000 each, the personalized license plates have already raised 46 million euros. The fact that the ANPR cameras occasionally have difficulty deciphering the crazy combinations apparently matters less. Because he who laughs last…

Numerous complaints show that not everyone is happy with the free choice of numbers and letters. The Equal Opportunities Center Unia, for example, strongly opposed this combinations with H-88, which in certain circles refer to (Heil) Hitler. A license plate such as 1-RAS-88 should also be prohibited, but just like SS, it circulates on Belgian roads. Once approved, it is apparently not easy for the government to reverse the award. Inappropriate combinations occasionally slip through the cracks, even though the Vehicle Registration Service (DIV) maintains a blacklist and every application is checked by an official. The only question is where he draws the line. For some, TRUMP is a hero, for others the beginning of the end. Ditto for PUTIN and so many other loaded names and words.


If the Netherlands allows personalized license plates, the government would do well to learn lessons from the Belgian story. Interested drivers can, in turn, think about smart combinations to prevent one bad joke after another from raining on Dutch roads. It seems that too much freedom of choice is less inspiring. Just look at England, where the license plate game is played much more subtly. Thoughtful ideas are always more fun than vulgar concepts, especially if they relate to the car model and not to the driver’s ego. Even in Germany, where the options are often limited to a few characters, they manage to come up with nice license plates, so get creative in the comments of this post!

– Thanks for information from Autoweek.nl

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