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Number plates in Thailand are issued by the Department of Land and Transport. It is a legal requirement that they are displayed on all motorized road vehicle with the exception of royal, police and military owned vehicles.
The number plates very in design and color as well as dimension according to the type of vehicle, but they normally display two letters and four numbers as well as the vehicles province of registration.
Private pick-up trucks have a white background with green text and private motorized tuk tuks have a white background and red text. Trailers, road rollers and agricultural vehicles have a white background and red text.
Certain numbers in each series of number plates are made available for action such as single digit numbers (1), twin (11), Triple (111) and quadruple (1111) as well as thousands (1000) straight three digit (123), four digit (1234) and pairs such as (1122, 1212 and 1221). These plates have special custom backgrounds for each province and are only available for private passenger cars.
Series letters are specific to vehicle classes. Personal cars have series beginning with (in order of adoption) ก, ข, ง, จ, ฉ, ธ, ฐ, พ, ภ, ว, ษ, ศ, ส, ช, ฌ, ฎ, ญ and ฆ; pick-up truck licenses begin with (in alphabetical order) ฒ, ณ, ต, ถ, บ, ป, ผ, ย, ร and ล; vans’ begin with น, ฬ, อ and ฮ. Car taxis have IDs beginning with ท and ม. Mini truck taxi IDs begin with ฟ. Some series beginning with ส are used for tuk-tuk taxis, and some beginning with ฌ are used by service vehicles. Trailers, road rollers, tractors and agricultural vehicles have ซ as their first series letter.
Each new letter pair is announced by the DLT. Each provincial registrar accordingly registers new vehicles under its latest available letter pair until all 9,999 numbers have been exhausted, then moves onto the next series letter. Letters whose appearance may be confused are skipped, and so are letter pairs which form words with bad meanings. For example, the combinations “ชน” and “ตด” are not used, as they form words meaning “crash” and “fart”.
Plates for motorcycles have information in three rows. The series letters and leading number is displayed on the top row and the serial number and up to four digits on the bottom row. The province of registration is shown on the middle row. The plate has a white background and black text. The background on a hired motorbike should be yellow.
Diplomatic plates are issued to members of diplomatic missions, international organizations or United Nations specialized agencies based in Thailand. On the top left is a letter denoting the status of the registrant “ท” for diplomatic agents, “พ” for members of special embassy agencies, “ก” for consular agents, and “อ” for international organizations or United Nations agencies. The code denoting the country or organization can be found on the bottom left and on the right is a serial number of up to four digits with a horizontal line in the middle. Motorcycle plates have a similar appearance . Plates issued to diplomatic agents are colored black on white, those issued to honorary consuls are black on gray, and others are white on light blue.
License plates for buses and trucks are separately regulated. They show the registration number that has two numbers followed by four numbers separated by a horizontal like. The word Thailand is displayed in capital letters about the number and the province or registration is displayed below the number. A numerical provincial code can be found on the top right of the plate. These plates have yellow backgrounds and black texts for hired vehicles and white backgrounds and black texts for private vehicles.
All DLT-registered vehicles are required to mount a registration plate in an easily visible position at the front and at the rear of the vehicle, except for motorcycles, for which only rear-mounting is required. Vehicles must also display an annual tax payment decal on the windshield or another visible location, depending on the type of vehicle.
Similar to those in the United Kingdom Motor Dealers or trade plates are temporary license plates typically carried by unregistered vehicles or vehicles without proper documents, road tax and insurance. The plate is most commonly utilized and authorized vehicle dealers and local vehicle companies with approval for permits from the DLT. However a number of plates are used on private vehicles, typically luxury vehicles to evade government taxes and duties for imported vehicles.
Trade plates some with a set of restrictions and applications for trade plates require deposits and monthly renewals. Vehicles bearing trade plates are only allowed to be used on public roads during certain hours of the day.
Trade plates are also used by foreign vehicles without proper permits or documents from their own countries to gain permission to enter Thailand when clearance is authorized by customs.
Trade plates have a red background and black text.
As of 2008, International plates for private cars are available from the DLT upon request, for a fee. The prefix characters are translated via code-matching into two alphanumeric Roman characters. The country name THAILAND is displayed in capital letters below the registration number, and the numerical provincial code is shown in the bottom right. The plates are black on white. They are required for transport into Burma, Cambodia, Southern China, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia. However, they are not legal inside Thailand, and must be removed upon re-entering the country.
The DLT’s authority does not cover vehicles used by the king, the Royal Thai Police, the Bureau of the Royal Household, and the Royal Thai Armed Forces. These vehicles are marked by plates governed by their respective organizations.
Vehicles owned by the Bureau of Royal Household have registration plates bearing the letters ร.ย.ล. (short for ราชยานยนต์หลวง, “royal motor vehicle”) and a registration number, usually in white on a black background. Vehicles personally owned by the king usually bear standard registration plates but with the reserved series prefixes of “1ด” or “ดส”.
Vehicles owned by the Royal Thai Police usually have registration plates bearing the police emblem followed by the registration number. The colors are white on a maroon background.
Military vehicles have registration plates bearing their registration number preceded by the emblem of their respective military branch. Combat vehicles have red-on-white plates, while non-combat vehicles’ plates are white-on-black