What this digital painting reveals

Perhaps the rarest license plate on German roads: the diplomatic license plate. what it reveals.

A license plate consisting of numbers only, plus a “CD” sticker on the back: clear case, here’s a diplomat sitting in the car. But there is a lot of information in the license plate.

Score 0 for senior diplomats

The diplomatic license plate as we know it today was introduced in Germany over 40 years ago. But how do we know that exactly?

At least its structure should be familiar to most drivers: the license plate consists of three elements. It always starts with a zero followed by the country code (at least two digits). This number indicates the country for which the license plate was issued. For example, the number 155 (photo above) refers to Slovenia. After the symbol, there is a hyphen and another number. The smaller it is, the higher the rank is usually. For example, the number 1 belongs to the ambassador.

(Source: Vladimir Wegener)

Do not confuse!

Very few license plates in Germany consist only of a zero and another number. However, these indications are reserved for the German government. Again, the lower the number, the higher the rank. Thus the number 1 belongs to the Head of State, i.e. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

A vehicle with this number plate must have a sticker imprinted with “CD”. The abbreviation stands for cOrbis Driplomatique, thus it identifies the driver as a member of the diplomatic service.

Incidentally, some of these private labels are also issued to so-called supranational organizations such as the European Central Bank or the European Commission – but not in conjunction with the “CD” label.


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Notes on the table: Not every country that has its own code currently has an embassy in Germany. Other countries also have no representation and thus no abbreviation. Still others renamed themselves after the list was established in the late 1970s, or joined later. So the list is not always alphabetical.

Several traffic violations for diplomatic cars

By the way, due to the immunity of international diplomats, their traffic violations are not prosecuted. And that’s a lot: in 2021 alone, they committed 9,973 violations in Berlin. The total amount of warnings or fines already due: more than €200,000. After the accidents, in more than 60 percent of cases, they fled the scene – also with impunity.

Higher administrative staff at embassies also have private identifiers. However, it actually differs from the Diplomatic License Plate Number in that it does not begin with a zero. Also, cars do not carry a “CD” plate.


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