Beginners’ Guide to Prefixes and Suffixes of Car Plates in Singapore

Meaning of Prefixes
If you travel on the roads often, you’d probably notice that each vehicle has a unique license plate with alphabets and numbers on them. To the untrained eye, these plates could look like random combinations of alphabets and numbers. But do you know that the prefixes actually have a meaning and system behind them?

In Singapore, the first series of car license plates for private vehicles was issued in 1906 with a single prefix ‘S’. To meet the growing demand for vehicles, there soon came a need to include an additional suffix letter (i.e from ‘S’ to ‘SB’) in car plates as well. Some of which were skipped, like ‘SA’ for motorcycles, ‘SH’ and ‘SZ’ for taxis and buses, ‘SD’ for municipal vehicles, and ‘SG’ for goods vehicles.

Afterwhich, a new prefix ‘E’ was announced in 1972, along with its single suffix letters from 1973 to 1983. In 1984, the ‘S’ series was used again, this time with two additional suffix letters (i.e. from ‘S’ to ‘SBA’).

Till today’s date, the system is still running on the same model. However, certain combinations are reserved for the following exceptions:

SBS: For buses operated by SBS Transit

SEP: For the official state cars and is short for Singapore Elected President

SMB: For buses operated by SMRT buses

SJ: For cars used by the Judges from the Supreme Court.

SPF: For cars used by the Commissioner of the Singapore Police Force.

In order to prevent forming words of subjective opinions, the Land Transport Authority skipped the use of vowels in the second letter of the three-letter car plate. For instance, the ‘SE’ series and ‘SI’ series were both skipped in past years.

  • Age of Prefix

To know an estimate on the age of your vehicle number plate, you may click here to check. The table in the website shows the commencing month and year of the vehicle car plate prefix series. You may use the Search function to search for either the Prefix or the Year, which gives you a good estimate on its age as well as which month and year it was issued.

  • Why Car Plates with Same Numbers Can Have Such Big Price Differences

Depending on its date of release, car plates with different prefixes and suffixes can fetch extremely different prices. For example, let us look at a car plate number of ‘SGH 8D’ compared to ‘EB 8J’. Despite these two license plates having the same number ‘8’, a quick search shows that the market value of the former is priced at $68,000 but the latter can be twice or thrice of its value. It’s no surprise at all, given that the ‘EB’ series are extremely rare in the market.

Typically, car owners and collectors of vintage car plates prefer license plates that are around 30 to 40 years old. The reason behind its value still goes back to the rarity of these series in the market, and its significance as a status symbol.

If you wish to buy or sell a car plate, you may contact us via whatsapp and we will get back to you within 24 hour. If you would like to share your comments, you can reach us via Email or whatsapp us here.


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