Greek license plates are white with black numbers and letters, and made up of a region ("nom'os" in Greek) designation and a serial number. The region designation is three characters in length (two characters in older plates), and indicates the region the car is registered in. A few large regions have more than one letter combination. The serial number is 1000-9999 for four-wheeled vehicles and 1-999 for motorbikes and motorcycles.

Only the 14 letters common to the greek and latin alphabet are used in Greek license plates, namely (in Greek alphabetical order) A, B, E, Z, H, I, K, M, N, O, P, T, Y and X. In the new 3-letter scheme (introduced in 1983), the first and second letter indicate region and the third advances sequentially. Where possible, the letter combination is attempted to resemble the spelling (in Greek) of the region or its principal town. For example, the numbers of the region of Kozani (code "KZ") started with KZA-1000. When KZA-9999 was given out, they used KZB, KZE and so on.

In the older 2-letter scheme (about 5% of the vehicles in Greece have such plates) the two-letter combination indicates region, without any resemblance to its name. Instead, "neighboring" letter combinations designate neighboring regions (e.g. combinations starting with "N" are designated to regions in Western and Central Macedonia). Two-letter plates have a one- or two-digit number printed vertically on the right (one digit under the other), also indicating region. For example, the region of Kozani has the two-letter codes NP and NT and a vertical "17" on the right.

Fire brigade and other official vehicles have orange plates with the special code "KHY". Taxis have yellow plates with the special prefix "TA" (example: TAE-1234), while slightly older taxis have white plates with red letters and one-letter code (example: B-9876). Police and army have their own license plates, not following any of the standards mentioned above.

Exceptions to the three-letter scheme:

  • In most regions (actually all but the larger ones), "I" is not used as third letter. So, in the region of Imathia (code "HM"), right after HMZ-9999 there goes HMK-1000 and not HMI-1000. A possible explanation is that the "I" letter can be easily forged to look like some other letter.
  • In the same regions where the previous rule applies, it seems that second and third letter of code cannot be the same. For example, the first number in Karditsa (code "KA") is KAB-1000 and not KAA-1000. Or, in Imathia, after HMK-9999 goes HMN-1000 and not HMM-1000.

The complete list of prefixes in three-letter codes

Two-letter prefix        Region ("Nomos")                  City/Town where Department 
(of three-letter code)                                     of Transport resides)

AH                       Xanthi                            Xanthi
AI                       Aitoloakarnania                   Agrinion
                         (Aetolia & Acarnania)
AK                       Lakonia                           Sparti (Sparta)
AM                       Fokida                            Amfissa
AN                       Lasithi                           Ag. Nikolaos
AP                       Argolida                          Nafplio
AT                       Arta                              Arta
AX                       Achaia                            Patra (Patras)
BI                       Viotia (Boeotia)                  Livadia
BO                       Magnisia                          Volos
EB                       Evros                             Alexandroupoli
EE                       Pella                             Edessa
EM                       Cyclades                          Ermoupoli (island of Syros)
EP                       Serres                            Serres
EY                       Lefkada                           Lefkada
HA                       Ilia                              Pirgos
HM                       Imathia                           Veria
HN                       Thesprotia                        Igoumenitsa
HP, HK                   Heraklion                         Heraklion
IB                       Attica (East, West, 
                         Piraeus or Athens)
IN                       Ioannina                          Ioannina (Yannena)
KA                       Karditsa                          Karditsa
KB                       Kavala                            Kavala
KE                       Cephalonia                        Cephalonia
KH                       Evritania                         Karpenisi
KI                       Kilkis                            Kilkis
KM                       Messinia                          Kalamata
KN                       Pieria                            Katerini
KO                       Rodopi                            Komotini
KP                       Korinthos                         Korinthos (Corinth)
KT                       Kastoria                          Kastoria
KX                       Dodecanese                        Kos
KY                       Kerkyra (Corfu)                   Kerkyra 
KZ                       Kozani                            Kozani
ME                       Aitoloakarnania                   Mesolongi
MH                       Lesvos                            Myrina (island of Lemnos)
MI                       Fthiotida                         Lamia
MO                       Samos                             Samos
MY                       Lesvos                            Mytilini (island of Lesbos)
NA, NB, NE, NZ, NH       Thessaloniki                      Thessaloniki
OP                       Evros                             Orestiada
PA                       Florina                           Florina
PE                       Rethimno                          Rethimno
PI                       Larisa                            Larisa
PM                       Drama                             Drama
PN                       Grevena                           Grevena
PO                       Dodecanese                        Rodos (Rhodes)
PZ                       Preveza                           Preveza
TK                       Trikala                           Trikala
TP                       Arkadia                           Tripoli
XA                       Evia (Euboea)                     Chalkida
XI                       Chios                             Chios
XK                       Chalkidiki (Chalcidice)           Poligiros
XN                       Chania                            Chania
YA, YB, YE, YZ, YH       Athens
YI, YK, YM, YN           Piraeus
YO, YP, YT               West Attica
YX, YY                   East Attica
ZA                       Zakinthos (Zante)                 Zakinthos
ZH, ZM, ZY, ZZ           Attica (East, West, 
                         Piraeus or Athens)

Other codes:

Code                 Color                 Meaning

KHY                  Black on orange       Fire Brigade & other official vehicles
3-letter with        Black on yellow       Taxis
prefix TA
Any 1-letter code    Red on white          Taxis (older)
AMO, AMP, AMT, AMY,  Red on white          Cars with tax exemption, usually owned
AMX, MOI, PAI,                             by repatriated Greeks or people with
perhaps other                              four or more children*
random codes

Below I'll try to provide some information about older two-letter codes (hopefully this list will be completed sometime). Though the three-letter plates were introduced in 1983, they weren't issued in all regions all at once; the two-letter plates had to be exhausted first, so in some regions with small population (Evritania, for example) there are two-letter plates issued in 1990 or even later.

Two letter code                  Region
AA,AB,AE,AZ                      Attica, excluding Athens
anything starting with B, E      Athens metro
KA,KB                            Evros
KY                               Government vehicles
anything starting with M         Thessaloniki
NA,NB,NE                         Thessaloniki
NO,NY                            Imathia
NP,NT                            Kozani
PA,PB,PE                         Achaia
anything starting with X, Y, Z   Athens metro was a great help for the full list of current three-letter codes. You can find similar information about lots of other countries there.

Update 13 Sep 2004: On September 7th, 2004 the Greek Ministry of Transportation (after a five-year delay) issued the first "european style" number plate in compliance with a EU directive about common style plates in all EU members. According to the directive, number plates of all EU countries should be of a common style, with a blue margin on the left side, and in the margin, the twelve-star emblem of EU and the international letter code of the country. Therefore, new number plates in Greece will have a 45 mm blue margin with twelve yellow stars in circular formation and the letters "GR" in white. Moreover, the font used for letters and numbers has changed, and now is very similar to the one used in German plates before 1995. The letter code of this first ever new-style plate was "IBI" and it was issued (where else?) in Athens.

* In Greece of the 90s, "AMO" (after the first code used for cars with tax exemption) actually became a word used and understood by most people. It usually referred (in a slightly pejorative sense) to the cars (mostly humble Ladas) owned by Greeks repatriated from the former Soviet Union, that came in thousands after its collapse. Also, in a stonger pejorative sense, for luxurious cars belonging to people who usually weren't entitled to this kind of tax exemption.

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