British Columbia Passenger License Plates
2023 and beyond!

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In closing, it strikes us that a number of other jurisdictions - particularly in western North America - have recently had to contend with the exhaustion of a six-digit license plate serial. Interestingly, each has addressed the issue in it own way (with the majority opting to go to 7-digits) and the following gallery seeks to present visual examples of the different experiences that were available to ICBC when making its own decision on the "AA0-00A" serial:
Jurisdiction: California
Introduced: 1980
Format: 0AAA-000
Comments: The first State to introduce seven digits for passenger plates, California opted to retain the basic AAA-000 format by adding a number in front. Accordingly, the first number only rolls-over after the proceeding six digit combination (i.e. AAA-000) is exhausted. For example, 1ZZZ-999 is followed by 2AAA-000. As of 2010, California is currently into the sixth series - i.e. 6AAA-000.
Jurisdiction: Ontario
Introduced: 1997
Format: AAAA-000
Comments: The first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce a 7-digit serial, the use of four letters is seen to allow for a possible 350 million different combinations - which probably gives Ontario a 100 year supply. Thirteen years into the series and the highest combination spotted is only in the "BJWT" range. Although very similar to California, Ontario's use of four letters effectively gives the province an additional dozen potential cycles through the basic AAA-000 format.

Jurisdiction: Quebec
Introduced: 2009
Format: A00-AAA
Comments: Interestingly, Quebec has opted to retain a 6-digit format for its passenger plates despite already utilising a 7-digit format on many other non-passenger vehicle types (think of the ubiquitous "F" prefix). It is not known how many possible combinations will be yielded by the use of four letters and two numbers ...

Jurisdiction: Alberta
Introduced: 2010
Format: AAA-0000
Comments: In 2008, the Province undertook a consultation with residents on the redesign of the venerable "Wild Rose" plate (introduced in 1984) as the 000-AAA format neared exhaustion. The redesign was eventually abandoned, purportedly due to cost considerations, and the decision to add a seventh digit was made. Alberta is hoping this will provide a 20 year supply of combinations.
Jurisdiction: Arizona
Introduced: 2008
Format: AAA-0000
Comments: One of the fastest growing States in the US since 2004, Arizona exhausted its 6-digit serial in 2008 and added a seventh digit in the form of a fourth number. It is anticipated that this extra number will allow for an additional 106.48 million combinations. As part of the change, the State also moved away from embossed and to flat license plates.

Jurisdiction: Utah
Introduced: 2008
Format: A00-0AA
Comments: As Utah neared the exhaustion of its 000-AAA format in 2008, a select design team was assembled to decide upon a new design to replace the "Ski Utah" base that had been in use since 1985. The result is the new "Life Elevated" base and a serial that most closely resembles the "AA0-00A" format selected by ICBC and offers a possible glimpse of the next combination ICBC may utilise.

Jurisdiction: Texas
Introduced: 2009
Format: AA0-A000
Comments: In 2008, the State decided that "because we nee to change the plate [to accommodate a seventh digit], we thought it was the perfect time to invite Texans to participate in a design selection." Given a choice of 4 designs, Texans opted for the one shown above. The State also made the switch to flat plates, and is anticipating that the 7-digit format will last for 35 years.
Jurisdiction: Washington
Introduced: 2010
Format: AAA-0000
Comments: After significant public outcry, the State amended the letter-number combination of the new 7-digit plates to the more easily recallable AAA-0000 instead of the original 0A0-0AAA (shown above). The new serial will yield approximately 138 million possible combinations (down from the 350 million offered by the abandoned 0A0-0AAA format).
     
Jurisdiction: Wisconsin
Introduced: April 2015
Format: AAA-0000
Comments: The 000-AAA format was first issued by the state in 2000 and allowed for a total of 20 million combinations, while the switch to the AAA-0000 format is estimated to allow for 100 million combinations. The state does not use 'I', 'O' or 'Q' on passenger plates due to similarity with numbers.
     


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1952-1954  |  1955-1963  |  1964-1969  |   1970-1978  |  1979-1985  |  1985-2001  |  2001-2014  |  2014-2023  |  2023 and beyond

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