Trying to make sense of the different types of vehicle registration number plates in Singapore? Each number plate has a unique code that helps the authority identify and track the vehicle, and they come in various colour schemes and combinations.
To help you understand these, we’ve got all the information on the car plates in Singapore that you need right here – learn about their prefixes, suffixes, purposes and more!
Table of Contents
Singapore licence plate by vehicle class
Licence plates for private vehicles usually consist of one letter starting with ‘S’ (used since 1984), two letters except “I” and “O”, up to four numbers from 1 to 9999, and finally a checksum letter. This last letter is used to confirm the authenticity of the plate.
From the early 1970s to the mid-1980s, plates had an ‘E’ as the first letter instead of an ‘S’. Licence plate verification can be done using an online tool.
As part of the effort to move towards a cleaner energy model, from 2025 onwards all diesel-only cars and taxis will no longer be issued with licence plates. By 2030, this policy will be extended so that all cars and taxis must be registered as electric or hybrid models in order to receive a licence plate.
|Prefix||Type of vehicle usage|
|A_||Motorcycles until mid-1980s|
|E_||Private vehicles from the early 1970s until the mid 1980s|
|EVS||Special prefix for the first 100 locally assembled EVs.|
|F_ & FB_||For motorcycles. FA-FZ were used until 2005, with FBA introduced in December 2005 after FZ. This was followed by FBB, FBC, and so on.|
|G_ & GB_||For Light Goods Vehicles (LGVs) – Vehicles with maximum laden weight (MLW) of up to 3,500kg. GA-GZ were used until 2006, with GBA introduced in December 2006. This was followed by GBB, GBC, and so on.|
|PD||For private buses. Previous letters were PA, PB, PC, PD, PH, and PZ.|
|SH & SH_||For taxis.|
|W||For engineering plant vehicles, Jeeps, and Rovers.|
|X||For Very Heavy Goods Vehicles (VHGVs) – Vehicles with MLW of more than 16,000kg.|
|Y||For Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) – Vehicles with MLW from 3,501kg to 16,000kg.|
|Up to 5 letters and digits||Power-Assisted Bicycle (PAB) number plate with a maximum of 5 digits. Registration is mandatory in order to be used.|
Singapore has a variety of special licence plates with prefixes and suffixes used for specific functions, including:
|Prefix||Type of vehicle usage|
|S1 to S10||State cars used for ferrying official government guests and dignitaries|
|LTA||For Land Transport Authority vehicles.|
|MID||For the Singapore Armed Forces. Up to 5 digits before MID e.g. 12345MID.|
|MP||For Singapore Armed Forces’ Military Police Command vehicles.|
|RD||For vehicles involved in research and development projects, like the testing of new electric cars or fuel-cell vehicles on our roads.|
|RU||For restricted-use vehicles exempted from road tax, like the Singapore Zoo trams.|
|SBS||For public buses operated by SBS Transit (from 1973) until January 2016. Currently also used by Tower Transit and Go-Ahead Singapore.|
|SG||Government-owned buses operated by contracted bus operators under Bus Contracting Model.|
|SMB||Buses operated by SMRT Buses until January 2016, used in tandem with the TIB series. Used for buses registered after the merger of TIBS and SMRT in 2004. Currently also used by Tower Transit, SBS Transit and Go-Ahead.|
|SEP||Singapore Elected President – for the official state car of the President of the Republic of Singapore (1 SEP)|
|SJ||For Judges presiding the Supreme Court. The Chief of Justice uses SJ1.|
|SP||For Speaker of Parliament (SP 1)|
|SPF||For the Singapore Police Force Commissioner (SPF 1)|
|S, ending with CD after the digits||For foreign diplomats.|
|TP||For Singapore Police Force Traffic Police Department motorcycles.|
|QX||For Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force vehicles.|
|QY||Quasi-government agencies and statutory boards|
|SZ/SZA||Currently SZ prefixes are used on private boats/yachts with (a suffix with up to five digits after it with checksum).|
Singapore license plate by colours
Singapore has a unique way of distinguishing different vehicles and their purposes through the use of letters and colours.
The standard colour scheme consists of white lettering on a black background. When plates are made from reflective material, however, the scheme changes slightly:
- for the front plate, the lettering should be black on a white background
- for the back plate, it should be black on a yellow background.
|License plate colour||Type of vehicle use|
|Red colored car plates with white letterings.||Off-peak cars: Cars with these plates can only be driven from 7pm to 7am on weekdays and after 3pm on Saturday with no restriction on Sunday.|
|Yellow and blue in the plate, separated in half diagonally. The characters are also in white.||Research and development cars: For experimental cars like electric cars or fuel-cell vehicles that are being tested on our roads.|
|Top half being red-ish orange and the bottom half yellow.||Vintage and classic cars|
|Green coloured car plate with white letterings.||Pulau Ubin vehicles: They are exempted from tax and are used exclusively on the island of Pulau Ubin.|
|Green and red that is split in half diagonally.||Restricted use: These vehicles are restricted to certain locations, such as trams in zoos that are used to fetch visitors around and is exempted from road tax.|
|Orange colored car plates||Hazmat vehicles: This means that the vehicle is licensed to carry dangerous cargo.|
Fun facts on car plates in Singapore
- Did you know that the iconic ‘S32H’ vintage car plate, one of the few available in Singapore, was auctioned off for S$335,000 in 2016 – almost the cost of a typical 4-room HDB flat? This record-breaking sale demonstrates just how highly sought after exclusive car plates can be in Singapore.
- Obtaining a car plate number in Singapore can be done in two ways – bidding for a new series of car plates on the One Motoring website or purchasing vintage, novel or collectible plates from other owners or car dealers. Prices are largely dependent on demand and bidding amounts. Special car plates come with a hefty price tag due to their value and symbols such as single-digit series and lucky numbers like “8” have become a subtle indication of social status for vehicle owners.
- Singapore car plates have a letter listed at the end of their registration number- after the string of prefix and suffix letters as well as digits. Referred to as ‘checksum letters’, these peculiar additions are generated via an algorithm, excludes certain letters such as ‘F’, ‘I’, ‘N’, ‘O’, ‘Q’,’V’ and ‘W’ from appearing at the end of car registrations.
- To understand how the checksum algorithm work, we can convert up to two letters of the prefix to numbers (A=1, Z=26). Next, each individual number is multiplied by a set of fixed numbers – 14, 2, 12, 2, 11 and 1. The results are then added together and divided by 19. The remainder will then be used to find the corresponding letter in a string of 19 (A, Y, U, S, P, L, J, G, D, B, Z, X, T, R, M, K, H, E, C), with 0=A, Y=1, etc. Take for instance, SMB888 will have ‘R’ as its checksum letter.
- What is the latest car number plate? As of 22 Feb 2023, the range of new vehicle numbers assigned by LTA is from SNJ7374G to SNJ7976U.
How to bid for a new car plate number?
If you are looking to bid for a new car plate number, the first step is to bid for an available Vehicle Registration Number (VRN) with the prefix and suffix that you want. This can be done through a bidding exercise based on your type of vehicle online at the LTA OneMotoring’s website.
For each bid, you are allowed to choose up to 3 different combinations of numbers for the same prefix (e.g. SLPxxxxA, SLPyyyyB, SLPzzzzC). If your bid is successful, only one VRN will be given out depending on the order of preference in which it was submitted during the bid. If you would like to acquire more than one VRN, you must make additional bids accordingly.
You can submit your bid online at the main bidding exercise between 1.00 am on Friday and 4.30 pm on Wednesday each week, except during the hours of midnight and 1.00 am. The minimum bid amount is $1,000 which must be made in multiples of $1 – and once you have submitted your bid you will not be able to amend or withdraw it. There will be a non-refundable $18.19 service fee, paid via eNETS Debit, for each bid submission.
You can also bid for the leftover numbers from the main bidding exercise. These exercises will start on a Friday and end on Monday, with bids being accepted during this period from 1.00 am to 4.30 pm (excluding midnight to 1.00 am). The available numbers are published at least one working day before each bidding exercise so make sure to keep an eye out!
If bid is unsuccessful, the bid amount will be refunded back to you accordingly.
How to retain your existing car plate number?
If you wish to keep your car plate number when deregistering or selling your car, you can choose to retain it. Here are the steps to do it:
- Visit LTA OneMotoring’s website and login via your SingPass or password
- In your dashboard, click the button “Go to Vehicle Hub“.
- At your ‘My Vehicle Assets and Personal Profile‘ page, hover to the top navigation bar and click on the tab ‘Ownership‘ and see a drop down menu.
- Click on the ‘Vehicle no.’ -> ‘Retain Registered Vehicle No.‘
- Proceed to the next page and select the car plate number you wish to retain from the dropdown list.
- Under ‘Replace With System Assigned No.‘, select ‘yes’ to allow LTA to replace your current vehicle with a random car plate number from the current series.
- Click ‘Next’ to proceed after check the box to agree to the terms and conditions.
- Make a payment of S$1,300 to LTA to retain your number.
- After confirmation of payment, you will receive the new random car plate number for your current vehicle and your selected retained car plate number will be retained for 1 year.
You can use the retained car plate number for:
- a used car that is registered in your name.
- a new car that is not registered before. If you use the retained car plate number on the new car within a year, LTA will make a refund of S$1,200 back to you.
- or sell your retained car plate number.
All you need to know about Singapore vehicle number plates
Now, you probably understand all the different types of vehicle number plates in Singapore.
When buying a new or second-hand vehicle, depending on your choice, a vehicle registration number (VRN) can be automatically assigned by LTA for free or you can bid/retain a VRN of your choice for a fee.
You can choose to use a vehicle registration number (VRN) automatically assign by LTA, or a bid/retained VRN of your choice. There is no charge for a VRN automatically assigned by LTA.
If you wish to retain the vehicle registration number (VRN) when selling your car, this can be done online with an applicable fee as explained above in the article.
Carsnap provides platform for sellers to receive the most competitive offer when it comes to selling their vehicles. It’s a great choice if you’re looking to sell your car, as this can provide the additional funds necessary to pay for a personalized number plate or retain your existing one. Get your free car valuation today!
How do you read a car plate number in Singapore?
A typical Singapore vehicle registration number comes in the prefix format Sxx #### and ending with a suffix y. S – Vehicle class (“S”, with some exceptions, stands for a private vehicle since 1984) x – Alphabetical series (“I” and “O” are not used to avoid confusion with “1” and “0”). #### is up to four numbers from 1 to 9999. y is checksum letter used to confirm the authenticity of the plate.
How much is a car number plate in Singapore?
There is no charge for a Vehicle Registration Number (VRN)automatically assigned by LTA. But if you are looking to bid for a specific VRN, the minimum bid amount is $1,000.
Can I buy number plate in Singapore?
Yes, it’s possible for anyone to secure a unique plate number without having to own a car first. All you have to do is log into your One Motoring account and find the plate number that you like. Once it has been secured, the number will be stored and registered under your name.
What is the latest car number plate?
The latest car number plate is the one that ends with the later Alphabet. This follows an alpha-numeric order which begins with the letter “A” and progresses through to “Z”, where cars with the latter suffixes will be newer than those that begin with prefixes from earlier in the alphabet.