China vehicle registration plates

I get asked pretty often about the car vehicle registration plates in China, so I figured I’ll write the information down in an article as a quick guide I can point people to.

Once you understand how to look at China vehicle registration plates, you can identify where the vehicles are from and the vehicle types.

First character

Municipality, province, or autonomous region

The first character in the licence plate is the Chinese provincial abbreviation of the municipality, province or autonomous region where the vehicle is registered.

While some of the provincial abbreviations are direct abbreviations of the provincial names, others are characters that bear significance for the region they represent.

Municipalities

  • Beijing – 京
  • Chongqing – 渝
  • Shanghai – 沪
  • Tianjin – 津

Provinces

  • Anhui – 皖
  • Fujian – 闽
  • Gansu – 甘
  • Guangdong – 粤
  • Guizhou – 贵
  • Hainan – 琼
  • Hebei – 冀
  • Heilongjiang – 黑
  • Henan – 豫
  • Hubei – 鄂
  • Hunan – 湘
  • Jiangsu – 苏
  • Jiangxi – 赣
  • Jilin – 吉
  • Liaoning – 辽
  • Qinghai – 青
  • Shaanxi – 陕
  • Shandong – 鲁
  • Shanxi – 晋
  • Sichuan – 川
  • Yunnan – 云
  • Zhejiang – 浙

Autonomous regions

  • Guangxi – 桂
  • Inner Mongolia – 蒙
  • Ningxia – 宁
  • Xizang Tibetan Autonomous Region – 藏
  • Xinjiang – 新

Second character

District, county or city.

The second character in the licence plate is a Latin character that indicates the city of registration. For provinces and autonomous regions, The letter A is assigned to the capital.

For example, vehicle plates in Guangzhou start with 粤A while those in Shenzhen start with 粤B. Both Guangzhou and Shenzhen are in the Guangdong province, so they have 粤 as the first character. Guangzhou is the capital city of Guandong and is assigned the letter A, while Shenzhen is assigned the letter B.

See the full lists at the end of the article.

China vehicle registration plates

There are five characters after the city character in China vehicle registration plates.

These were previously numbers only. However, as the number of cars grew beyond 99,999, it became necessary to add Latin characters to increase the number of possible combinations.

Only 24 letters of the alphabet can be used. The letters “O” and “I” are omitted to avoid confusion with the numbers 0 and 1.

China vehicle registration plates

New Energy vehicles

New Energy vehicles licence plates were introduced on 21 November 2016 and were issued since 1 December 2016 in Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuxi, Jinan, and Shenzhen. These later became adopted country-wide in 2018. These registration plates are green, making them easy to spot.

Before the introduction of these licence plates, New Energy vehicles used the conventional registration plates. The New Energy vehicles licence plates were created to encourage the adoption of New Energy vehicles. The benefits of getting the New Energy vehicles licence plates are a shorter waiting list and no registration fees required. These are attractive perks in large cities like Shenzhen where motorist have to ballot for the registration plates and pay a hefty sum for the licence plates.

The New Energy vehicles licence plate added another character to the registration plate. A “D” indicates an electric vehicle, while an “F” indicates other types of New Energy vehicles. The position of this character depends on the size of the vehicle. For Small New Energy vehicles, it comes after the city character. For Large New Energy vehicles, it is the last character of the licence plate.

List of districts, counties and cities

Municipalities

Beijing

The Municipality of Beijing is abbreviated as 京 (jīng), meaning capital.

  • 京A (yellow plates) – Buses
  • 京C, 京E, 京F, 京H, 京J, 京K, 京L, 京M, 京P, 京Q – Urban area
  • 京B – Taxis
  • 京G – Suburbs
  • 京N, 京P, 京Y – Suburbs and urban area
  • 京A, 京LB, 京LC – Foreigner or foreign company-owned vehicle
  • 京O·A – Ministry of Public Security
  • 京V – Central Guard Bureau of Beijing Garrison Military License

Chongqing

The Municipality of Chongqing uses the abbreviation 渝 (yú) that comes from its name of Yu Prefecture (渝州) during the Sui Dynasty (581 AD). District prefixes were abolished after 18 May 2017.

  • 渝A – Urban area
  • 渝B – Urban area
  • 渝C – Yongchuan District, Jiangjin, Hechuan, Tongnan County, Tongliang County, Bishan County, Dazu County, Qijiang County, Rongchang County
  • 渝D – Urban area
  • 渝F – Wanzhou District, Liangping County, Chengkou County, Wushan County, Wuxi County, Zhong County, Kaizhou District, Fengjie County, Yunyang County
  • 渝G – Fuling District, Nanchuan, Dianjiang County, Fengdu County, Wulong County
  • 渝H – Qianjiang District, Shizhu Tujia Autonomous County, Xiushan Tujia and Miao Autonomous County, Youyang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County, Pengshui Miao and Tujia Autonomous County

Shanghai

The Municipality of Shanghai is abbreviated as 沪 (hù), a contraction of 沪渎 (Hùdù), the Jin name for the mouth of Suzhou Creek in the north of the city. The hu was a type of harpoon created by fishermen who lived there. Hudu literally means harpoon ditch.

  • 沪A, 沪B, 沪D, 沪E, 沪F, 沪G, 沪H, 沪J, 沪K, 沪L, 沪M, 沪N – Urban area and suburbs.
  • 沪C – Suburbs, not allowed to enter the urban area (not allowed to travel within the Outer Ring).
  • 沪R – Chongming Island, Changxing Island, Hengsha Island, not allowed to leave the places above.

For the third character of the license plates (with 4 digits following):

  • Z – New energy vehicles (except licenses begin with 沪A and 沪C).
  • M, N, U to X – Taxis.
  • Y – Vehicles for rent, owned by car renting operators.

Tianjin

The Municipality of Tianjin uses the abbreviation 津 (jīn) from its name, which means the Emperor’s Ford.

  • 津A, 津B, 津C, 津F, 津G, 津H, 津I, 津J, 津K, 津L, 津M, 津N, 津P, 津Q, 津R – General issues
  • 津E – Taxis

Provinces

Anhui

The Anhui Province is abbreviated as 皖 (wǎn) that comes from the State of Wan from the Spring and Autumn period (770 BCE).

  • 皖A- Hefei
  • 皖B – Wuhu
  • 皖C – Bengbu
  • 皖D – Huainan
  • 皖E – Ma’anshan
  • 皖F – Huaibei
  • 皖G – Tongling
  • 皖H – Anqing
  • 皖J – Huangshan
  • 皖K – Fuyang
  • 皖L – Suzhou
  • 皖M – Chuzhou
  • 皖N – Lu’an
  • 皖P – Xuancheng
  • 皖Q – former Chaohu (prefecture-level)
  • 皖R – Chizhou
  • 皖S – Bozhou

Fujian

The Fujian Province uses the abbreviation 闽 (mǐn), after the kingdom of Minyue (306 BC).

  • 闽A – Fuzhou
  • 闽B – Putian
  • 闽C – Quanzhou
  • 闽D – Xiamen
  • 闽E – Zhangzhou
  • 闽F – Longyan
  • 闽G – Sanming
  • 闽H – Nanping
  • 闽J – Ningde
  • 闽K – Provincial-level agencies, Pingtan Island
  • 闽O – Police vehicles

Gansu

The Gansu Province is abbreviated as 甘 (Gān) from its name, that was in turn derived from the combination of Gānzhou and Sùzhou, the old name of Jiuquan not to be confused of Sūzhou.

  • 甘A – Lanzhou
  • 甘B – Jiayuguan
  • 甘C – Jinchang
  • 甘D – Baiyin
  • 甘E – Tianshui
  • 甘F – Jiuquan
  • 甘G – Zhangye
  • 甘H – Wuwei
  • 甘J – Dingxi
  • 甘K – Longnan
  • 甘L – Pingliang
  • 甘M – Qingyang
  • 甘N – Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture
  • 甘P – Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture

Guangdong

The Guangdong Province uses the abbreviation 粤 (Yuè) from the ancient name Nanyue (nányuè) that means Yue in the South. It was the name for the region south of the Yangtze River during the Spring and Autumn period (770 BCE).

  • 粤A – Guangzhou (粤AQ – Panyu)
  • 粤B – Shenzhen
  • 粤C – Zhuhai
  • 粤D – Shantou
  • 粤E – Foshan (粤EV – Gaoming, 粤ET – Sanshui)
  • 粤F – Shaoguan
  • 粤G – Zhanjiang
  • 粤H – Zhaoqing (粤HL – Sihui)
  • 粤J – Jiangmen
  • 粤K – Maoming
  • 粤L – Huizhou
  • 粤M – Meizhou
  • 粤N – Shanwei
  • 粤O – Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department
  • 粤P – Heyuan
  • 粤Q – Yangjiang
  • 粤R – Qingyuan
  • 粤S – Dongguan
  • 粤T – Zhongshan
  • 粤U – Chaozhou
  • 粤V – Jieyang
  • 粤W – Yunfu
  • 粤X – Shunde (District of Foshan, discontinued issuing from February 2018)
  • 粤Y – Nanhai (District of Foshan, discontinued issuing from February 2018)
  • 粤Z – Hong Kong and Macau vehicles frequently travelling to the mainland. The registration number has 4 alphanumerics, suffixed with either 港 (for Hong Kong) or 澳 (for Macau).

Guizhou

The Guizhou Province is abbreviated as 贵 (Guì) from its name.

  • 贵A – Guiyang
  • 贵B – Liupanshui
  • 贵C – Zunyi
  • 贵D – Tongren
  • 贵E – Qianxinan
  • 贵F – Bijie
  • 贵G – Anshun
  • 贵H – Qiandonnan
  • 贵J – Qiannan

Hainan

The Hainan Province uses the abbreviation 琼 (Qíong), after its former names of Qiongya (琼崖) and Qiongzhou (琼州).

  • 琼A – Haikou
  • 琼B – Sanya
  • 琼C – Qionghai, Wenchang, Wanning, Ding’an, Tunchang, Chengmai,Lingao
  • 琼D – Wuzhishan, Dongfang, Baisha, Changjiang, Ledong, Lingshui, Baoting, Qiongzhong
  • 琼E – Yangpu Economic Development Zone
  • 琼F – Danzhou

Hebei

The Hebei Province is abbreviated as 冀 (Jì), from its old name Jizhou (冀州).

  • 冀A – Shijiazhuang
  • 冀AT – Shijiazhuang taxis
  • 冀B – Tangshan
  • 冀BT – Tangshan taxis
  • 冀C – Qinhuangdao
  • 冀D – Handan
  • 冀E – Xingtai
  • 冀F – Baoding
  • 冀G – Zhangjiakou
  • 冀H – Chengde
  • 冀J – Cangzhou
  • 冀R – Langfang
  • 冀T – Hengshui

Heilongjiang

The Heilongjiang Province uses the abbreviation 黑 (Hēi) from its name.

  • 黑A – Harbin
  • 黑B – Qiqihar
  • 黑C – Mudanjiang
  • 黑D – Jiamusi
  • 黑E – Daqing
  • 黑F – Yichun
  • 黑G – Jixi
  • 黑H – Hegang
  • 黑J – Shuangyashan
  • 黑K – Qitaihe
  • 黑L – Area of the Sungari River (now considered part of Harbin)
  • 黑M – Suihua
  • 黑N – Heihe
  • 黑P – Daxing’anling Prefecture
  • 黑R – Farming system

Henan

The Henan Province is abbreviated as 豫 (Yù) from its old name Yuzhou (豫州).

  • 豫A – Zhengzhou
  • 豫B – Kaifeng
  • 豫C – Luoyang
  • 豫D – Pingdingshan
  • 豫E – Anyang
  • 豫F – Hebi
  • 豫G – Xinxiang
  • 豫H – Jiaozuo
  • 豫J – Puyang
  • 豫K – Xuchang
  • 豫L – Luohe
  • 豫M – Sanmenxia
  • 豫N – Shangqiu
  • 豫P – Zhoukou
  • 豫Q – Zhumadian
  • 豫R – Nanyang
  • 豫S – Xinyang
  • 豫U – Jiyuan

Hubei

The Hubei Province uses the abbreviation 鄂 (È) from the State of E of the Western Zhou Dynasty.

  • 鄂A – Wuhan
  • 鄂B – Huangshi
  • 鄂C – Shiyan
  • 鄂D – Jingzhou
  • 鄂E – Yichang
  • 鄂F – Xiangyang
  • 鄂G – Ezhou
  • 鄂H – Jingmen
  • 鄂J – Huanggang
  • 鄂K – Xiaogan
  • 鄂L – Xianning
  • 鄂M – Xiantao
  • 鄂N – Qianjiang
  • 鄂P – Shennongjia
  • 鄂Q – Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture
  • 鄂R – Tianmen
  • 鄂S – Suizhou

Hunan

The Hunan Province is abbreviated as 湘 (Xiāng) after the Xiang River that runs through it.

  • 湘A – Changsha
  • 湘B – Zhuzhou
  • 湘C – Xiangtan
  • 湘D – Hengyang
  • 湘E – Shaoyang
  • 湘F – Yueyang
  • 湘G – Zhangjiajie
  • 湘H – Yiyang
  • 湘J – Changde
  • 湘K – Loudi
  • 湘L – Chenzhou
  • 湘M – Yongzhou
  • 湘N – Huaihua
  • 湘U – Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture

Jiangsu

The Jiangsu Province uses the abbreviation 苏 (Sū) from its name.

  • 苏A – Nanjing
  • 苏B – Wuxi
  • 苏C – Xuzhou
  • 苏D – Changzhou
  • 苏E – Suzhou
  • 苏F – Nantong
  • 苏G – Lianyungang
  • 苏H – Huai’an
  • 苏J – Yancheng
  • 苏K – Yangzhou
  • 苏L – Zhenjiang
  • 苏M – Taizhou
  • 苏N – Suqian
  • 苏U – Suzhou extra (approved in October 2018)

Jiangxi

The Jiangxi Province is abbreviated as 赣 (Gàn) from the Gan River that runs through it into the Yangtze River.

  • 赣A – Nanchang
  • 赣B – Ganzhou
  • 赣C – Yichun
  • 赣D – Ji’an
  • 赣E – Shangrao
  • 赣F – Fuzhou
  • 赣G – Jiujiang
  • 赣H – Jingdezhen
  • 赣J – Pingxiang
  • 赣K – Xinyu
  • 赣L – Yingtan

Jilin

The Jilin Province uses the abbreviation 吉 (Jí) from its name, derived a Manchu phrase “Jilin wula” that means along the river.

  • 吉A – Changchun
  • 吉B – Jilin City
  • 吉C – Siping
  • 吉D – Liaoyuan
  • 吉E – Tonghua
  • 吉F – Baishan
  • 吉G – Baicheng
  • 吉H – Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture
  • 吉J – Songyuan

Liaoning

The Liaoning Province is abbreviated as 辽 (Liáo) from its name that refers to the Liao River.

  • 辽A – Shenyang
  • 辽B – Dalian
  • 辽C – Anshan
  • 辽D – Fushun
  • 辽E – Benxi
  • 辽F – Dandong
  • 辽G – Jinzhou
  • 辽H – Yingkou
  • 辽J – Fuxin
  • 辽K – Liaoyang
  • 辽L – Panjin
  • 辽M – Tieling
  • 辽N – Chaoyang
  • 辽O – Police Vehicles
  • 辽P – Huludao

Qinghai

The Qinghai Province uses the abbreviation 青 (Qīng) from its name it got from Qinghai Lake.

  • 青A – Xining
  • 青B – Haidong
  • 青C – Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
  • 青D – Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
  • 青E – Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
  • 青F – Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
  • 青G – Gyêgu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
  • 青H – Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture

Shaanxi

The Shaanxi Province is abbreviated as 秦 (Qín) from the Qin Dynasty (221 BC).

  • 陕A – Xi’an
  • 陕AT – Taxis in Xi’an
  • 陕AU – Taxis in Xi’an
  • 陕AV – Provincial-level agencies
  • 陕B – Tongchuan
  • 陕C – Baoji
  • 陕D – Xianyang
  • 陕E – Weinan
  • 陕F – Hanzhong
  • 陕G – Ankang
  • 陕H – Shangluo
  • 陕J – Yan’an
  • 陕K – Yulin
  • 陕V – Yangling Gaoxin Agricultural Zone

Shandong

The Shandong Province uses the abbreviation 鲁 (Lǚ), after the State of Lu from the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC).

  • 鲁A – Jinan
  • 鲁B – Qingdao
  • 鲁C – Zibo
  • 鲁D – Zaozhuang
  • 鲁E – Dongying
  • 鲁F – Yantai
  • 鲁G – Weifang
  • 鲁H – Jining
  • 鲁J – Tai’an
  • 鲁K – Weihai
  • 鲁L – Rizhao
  • 鲁M – Binzhou
  • 鲁N – Dezhou
  • 鲁O – Police vehicles (phased out in 2019)
  • 鲁P – Liaocheng
  • 鲁Q – Linyi
  • 鲁R – Heze
  • 鲁S – Laiwu
  • 鲁U – Qingdao Extra (for taxis, tour buses, etc.)
  • 鲁V – Weifang Extra
  • 鲁W – Provincial-level agencies (phased out in 2019)
  • 鲁Y – Yantai Extra

Shanxi

The Shanxi Province is abbreviated as 晋 (Jīn) after the State of Jin from the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC), not to be confused with the Jin Dynasty.

  • 晋A – Taiyuan
  • 晋B – Datong
  • 晋C – Yangquan
  • 晋D – Changzhi
  • 晋E – Jincheng
  • 晋F – Shuozhou
  • 晋H – Xinzhou
  • 晋J – Lüliang
  • 晋K – Jinzhong
  • 晋L – Linfen
  • 晋M – Yuncheng

Sichuan

The Sichuan Province uses the abbreviation 川 (Chuān) from its name that is a contraction of the phrases Sì Chuānlù (四川路, Four Plain Circuits) and Chuānxiá Sìlù (川峽四路, Four Circuits of Chuanxia) from the division of the imperial administrative circuit into four during the Song Dynasty.

  • 川A – Chengdu
  • 川B – Mianyang (former Chongqing, sub-provincial city)
  • 川C – Zigong
  • 川D – Panzhihua
  • 川E – Luzhou
  • 川F – Deyang
  • 川G – Chengdu extra (former Mianyang)
  • 川H – Guangyuan
  • 川J – Suining
  • 川K – Neijiang
  • 川L – Leshan
  • 川M – Ziyang (former Wanxian, now merged into Chongqing)
  • 川N – former Fuling (now merged into Chongqing)
  • 川O – issued by Vehicle Management Office of Sichuan Provincial Public Security Department
  • 川P – former Qianjiang Prefecture (now merged into Chongqing)
  • 川Q – Yibin
  • 川R – Nanchong
  • 川S – Dazhou
  • 川T – Ya’an
  • 川U – Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture
  • 川V – Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
  • 川W – Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture
  • 川X – Guang’an
  • 川Y – Bazhong
  • 川Z – Meishan

Yunnan

The Yunnan Province is abbreviated as 云 (Yún) from its name.

  • 云A – Kunming
  • 云B – former Dongchuan (prefecture-level, now merged into Kunming)
  • 云C – Zhaotong
  • 云D – Qujing
  • 云E – Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云F – Yuxi
    • A “T” is further appended to taxis, for example 云FT1234.
  • 云G – Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云H – Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云J – Pu’er
  • 云K – Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云L – Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云M – Baoshan
  • 云N – Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云P – Lijiang
  • 云Q – Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云R – Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云S – Lincang

Zhejiang

The Zhejiang Province uses the abbreviation 浙 (Zhè) from its name that comes from the Zhe River, the old name of Qiantang River.

  • 浙A – Hangzhou
  • 浙B – Ningbo
  • 浙C – Wenzhou
  • 浙D – Shaoxing
  • 浙E – Huzhou
  • 浙F – Jiaxing
  • 浙G – Jinhua
  • 浙H – Quzhou
  • 浙J – Taizhou
  • 浙K – Lishui
  • 浙L – Zhoushan
  • 浙O – Black license plates belonging to cars registered to foreign enterprises

Autonomous regions

Guangxi

The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is abbreviated as 桂 (Guì) from the city of Guilin.

  • 桂A – Nanning
  • 桂B – Liuzhou
  • 桂C – Guilin
  • 桂D – Wuzhou
  • 桂E – Beihai
  • 桂F – Chongzuo
  • 桂G – Laibin
  • 桂H – Guilin
  • 桂J – Hezhou
  • 桂K – Yulin
  • 桂L – Baise
  • 桂M – Hechi
  • 桂N – Qinzhou
  • 桂P – Fangchenggang
  • 桂R – Guigang

Inner Mongolia

The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region uses the abbreviation 蒙 (Méng) from its name.

  • 蒙A – Hohhot
  • 蒙B – Baotou
  • 蒙C – Wuhai
  • 蒙D – Chifeng
  • 蒙E – Hulunbuir
  • 蒙F – Hinggan League
  • 蒙G – Tongliao
  • 蒙H – Xilin Gol League
  • 蒙J – Ulaan Chab
  • 蒙K – Ordos
  • 蒙L – Bayan Nur
  • 蒙M – Alxa League

Ningxia

The Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is abbreviated as 宁 (Níng) from its name.

  • 宁A – Yinchuan
  • 宁B – Shizuishan
  • 宁C – Wuzhong
  • 宁D – Guyuan
  • 宁E – Zhongwei

Xinjiang

The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region uses the abbreviation 新 (Xīn) from its name, derived from Xīyù Xīnjiāng (西域新疆, literally Western Regions’ New Frontier).

  • 新A – Ürümqi
  • 新B – Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture
  • 新C – Shihezi
  • 新D – Kuitun
  • 新E – Börtala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture
  • 新F – Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture
  • 新G – Qoqek
  • 新H – Altay
  • 新J – Karamay
  • 新K – Turpan
  • 新L – Hami
  • 新M – Bayin’gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture
  • 新N – Aksu Prefecture
  • 新P – Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture
  • 新Q – Kashgar
  • 新R – Hotan
  • 新S – Kunyu

Xizang

The Xizang Autonomous Region, also known as the Tibet Autonomous Region, is abbreviated as 藏 (Zàng) from its name Poi Ranggyong Jong (བོད་རང་སྐྱོང་ལྗོངས།) in Tibetan.

  • 藏A – Lhasa
  • 藏B – Qamdo
  • 藏C – Shannan
  • 藏D – Xigazê
  • 藏E – Naqu
  • 藏F – Ngari Prefecture
  • 藏G – Nyingchi

See Wikipedia for more information on China vehicle registration plates.

Learn with me.

Join me in my journey in exploring the transformative potential of AI.