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In Europe, a lot of cars have country indicators that indicate the country of origin and that look like this:

enter image description here

I heard that in some European country this is necessary to have. Since I don't want to deface my car if not absolutely necessary, I'd like to know in which European countries I'm required to have this country indicators.

My license plate looks like this:

enter image description here

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    I heard asking a question in necessary to earn some hats ;) – Nean Der Thal Dec 16 '14 at 10:15
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    Say, now that the DDR is gone for >10 years, could you not have found a newer example for a country sign? – DCTLib Dec 16 '14 at 13:06
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    @DCTLib >10 years may be a little bit of an understatement: IIrc the GDR is gone for almost 25 years by now... – Alexander Kosubek Dec 16 '14 at 14:39
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    you can get magnetic country plates so as to avoid defacing your car – Ian Turton Dec 16 '14 at 16:08
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    Roflcoptr, as others have answered, you are not allowed to go abroad without the oval but nothing in the Vienna Convention says how the oval should be produced. Either find a magnetic one, or create your own one. Or, if you simply use a ready-made oval, add a different, additional adhesive sheet between the car and the sticker that makes it easier to peel off again later. – Gábor Dec 16 '14 at 21:04
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+50

EU Licence Plates

The EU countries now have new registration plates incorporating the country code and the EU flag on the left. This voids the need for the former oval sticker, enforced by the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. Quoting from the "Council Regulation (EC) No 2411/98 of 3 November 1998 on the recognition in intra-Community traffic of the distinguishing sign of the Member State in which motor vehicles and their trailers are registered":

Member States requiring vehicles registered in another Member State to display a distinguishing registration sign when they are being driven on their territory shall recognise the distinguishing sign of the Member State of registration displayed on the extreme left of the registration plate in accordance with the Annex to this Regulation as being equivalent to any other distinguishing sign that they recognise for the purpose of identifying the State in which the vehicle is registered.

See for example Italy and France:

Italian Licence Plate French Licence Plate

For more information, here is a wikipedia article.

Swiss Licence Plates

Cars with a Swiss licence plate are obliged by the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic to place a CH sticker on their car, when travelling inside the EU zone.

CH Licence Plate

Liechtenstein Licence Plate

The Liechtenstein licence plate does indeed contain the country indicator. This is FL which stands for Fürstentum Liechtenstein:

FL Plate

I could not find an authoritative reference on the topic. In my opinion however, the FL marking can easily be confused with the equivalent of a region/city coding (such as those found on German plates). To be safe, I would suggest you do in fact stick a country indicator oval on your car, to avoid problems with over-zealous police officers. I can't imagine how hard it would be to try and convince foreign police that FL is indeed a country indicator, by quoting them the Vienna Convention.

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    How does this answer my question? I have neither a EU license plate nor a Swiss license plate. I really don't know why this got so many upvotes. – RoflcoptrException Feb 6 '15 at 11:33
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I think that you wouldn't need such a sticker in Europe if the sign of the country is incorporated into the registration plate. But I'm afraid that's not the case with your plates and therefor you will need a sticker.

The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, Article 37 says:

  • Every motor vehicle in international traffic shall display at the rear, in addition to its registration number, the distinguishing sign of the State in which it is registered.
  • This sign may either be placed separately from the registration plate or may be incorporated into the registration plate.
  • When the distinguishing sign is incorporat ed into the registration plate, it must also appear on the front registration plate of the vehicle if such is obligatory.

Here is a list of the coutries that signed the convention.

"FL" on your plates looks more like region/city code and not like a country code. According to the Vienna Convention (Annex 3.3.d) FL on your plates would not be recognized as a distinguishing sign and you need to a separate sticker.

The distinguishing sign of the State of registration shall be positioned so as to be easily identifiable and so that it cannot be confu sed with the registration number or impair its legibility. The distinguishing sign shall therefor e be at least of a different colour from the registration number, or have a different background colour to that reserved for the registration number, or be clearly separated, preferably by a line, from the registration number;

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    But do any countries outside the EU have signs with incorporated country sign? At least his picture of his plate doesn't have it. – RemcoGerlich Dec 16 '14 at 12:13
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    @RemcoGerlich: Switzerland and Liechtenstein are actually two of the quite few non-EU countries in Europe, not having incorporated the nationality sign in their licence plates. Except Andorra, Croatia, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City, all other non-EU countries have (at least in the currently issued registration plates) a nationality sign compliant with the requirements in the Vienna Convention. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Dec 16 '14 at 13:17
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    In UK, for example, default plates do not have the country sign incorporated. The owner/registered keeper can pay extra to have plates with the sign, but a lot of people do not. I bought a brand new car from a dealership last year, so I am the first registered owner - and the plates do not have the country emblem/symbol. I have magnetic ones, which I slap on the back and front of the car when I travel abroad. – Aleks G Dec 16 '14 at 13:41
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    Even better, the UK permits a variety of country codes which are not legal for European travel - GB is legal but you can also have UK, CYM, ENG, SCO or various whole names: gov.uk/displaying-number-plates/flags-symbols-and-identifiers – Colin Pickard Dec 16 '14 at 13:49
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    Dirty-flow, FL is the country code (Fürstentum Liechtenstein) and the same two letters are displayed in the oval, too, but that doesn't make this number plate sufficient on its own, of course. – Gábor Dec 16 '14 at 20:59
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If you have such a license plate, you will need have a country-identifying sticker if driving abroad with that car.

Someone already posted a Wikipedia link to the Vienna conventions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vienna_Convention_on_Road_Traffic

It is quite clearly stated (in this summary) that "A distinguishing sign of the country of registration must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle. This sign may either be placed separately from the registration plate or may be incorporated into the vehicle registration plate.". The symbol in your license plate is insufficient for this.

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    Why do you think that the licence plate is old? It's not even a year old. – RoflcoptrException Dec 16 '14 at 13:10
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    So the Liechtenstein does not issue country-identifying license plates nowaways? More than unexpected. I've adapted the answer to the information from the comments. – DCTLib Dec 16 '14 at 13:31
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    @jwenting - There are a couple of non-EU states that adopted the design (e.g., Turkey). – DCTLib Dec 16 '14 at 14:38
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    @Relaxed: No, the Lichtenstein registration plates do not fulfil the requirements in the Vienna Convention on incorporation of the nationality sign on the license plate: "The distinguishing sign of the State of registration shall be positioned so as to be easily identifiable and so that it cannot be confused with the registration number or impair its legibility." – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Dec 16 '14 at 16:03
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    @JoErNanO: That is not a problem and it would only had been an issue if the discussion was about operating foreign vehicles in Liechtenstein. Even if Liechtenstein hasn't ratified the Vienna Convention, vehicles from Liechtenstein must of course fulfil the requirements if they are operated in other signatory countries or countries with national regulations similar or identical to those in the Vienna Convention. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Dec 17 '14 at 15:31

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