Monday, December 3, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: License Plates

We had lots of recipes to blog last week but somehow we managed to run out of picture space. We thought recipes are boring without pictures so we waited until we fixed the problem. Now the problem is fixed (we hope!) but it is Monday, which means time for a Mix-Up Monday instead.

People are always attracted to license plates from other countries. Just like money, something so boring and everyday in your own country seems new and exciting in another. This past Saturday we were at a shop here in Frankfurt that was selling American license plates for 25 euros and above (that is about 33 US dollars). Although it seemed quite silly, we decided that people would be just as willing to pay a lot for German license plates in the US.

So what are the major differences between license plates in these two countries that make them so exciting?

B for Berlin (circle missing on this plate) (
The first obvious difference is the size. American plates are slightly chubby rectangles while Germany (actually all of Europe) has long and thin plates. Perhaps they are trying to hint toward the stereotypes of the size of people in these two countries??

Sorry, but German plates are pretty boring. The left side has a small blue square with the stars for the EU and a D for Deutschland. The rest is plain. Between the numbers and letters is a small circle (very hard to see while driving if you do not know exactly what you are looking for). This circle represents the German state.

Definitely a nuclear disaster (
American plates vary widely depending on what state you live in. California is quite boring, just white with California written in red, but other states take their plates to a whole new level. As her mother used to say, "Oh there goes the nuclear disaster," because of the red, yellow, and black on the Indiana license plates. Even if a state has a rather dull plate, special editions come out quite often (for example, celebrating an anniversary) or the state includes the state motto (Washington D.C. plates say "Taxation Without Representation" and North Carolina states, "First in Flight." Some states, Florida for example, let you choose which slogan you would like (Sunshine state or In God We Trust). If you do not like the plate your state has to offer you can pay a little extra money and get a special plate that represents a charity. This can range from saving the whales and the farmers to representing the university you attended.


M for Munich (M√ľnchen) (
In Germany, the left side of the plate (left of the circle) signifies what county you are from. When we lived in Aalen (which happened to be the name of the town and the county) we had AA on our plate. When you move counties you must buy a new plate. If you like to move this can happen quite often, for the entire country is smaller than California, making each county very small. She actually lived in Aalen but worked in the county Heidenheim, meaning if we had moved a few minutes closer to work we would of had to pay for new plates that said HDH.

Since she is not very good with her German counties she finds it very entertaining to constantly ask him what county each plate stands for during road trips. (Nooooo, not annoying at all :) )

A person in Germany can choose to get a personalized license plate for a small price, but what you can do with it is limited. You only have six spaces to play with meaning most personalized plates are initials and a birth year. There are no symbols or extra numbers/letters allowed.
In the USA, it depends on where you live if the county you live in is listed. She knows that in Tennessee each plate has the county, but it is a sticker, meaning you do not have to pay for a brand new plate when you move. Hawaii, Idaho, and Guam each use a letter to designate where the vehicle was registered. In most states there is no way to see where exactly the car is from.

There is a lot more flexibility about what you write on your customer license plate in the USA. Beyond just having more spaces (seven in states with lots of people). There are also special characters allowed such as &, dashes and spaces. 

So that's the gist of the license plate thing. If you have extra plates laying around feel free to send them our way and we will be sure to find a buyer :)

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