By Peter Stevenson
ALTHOUGH not legally required to, motorists are opting to change their existing licence plates to the new alphabetical system, according to Transport Minister Tasos Mitsopoulos.
New vehicle registration plates began circulation at the beginning of June this year and all newly-registered vehicles will be fitted with the new plates, which will have to conform to strict guidelines regarding font and size.
Plates already fitted to cars will not have to be changed unless they are damaged and need replacing or if the owner of the vehicle wishes to change them.
“It would be harsh to demand over half a million people change their licence plate numbers, incurring costs, during this tough financial period,” Mitsopoulos told the Cyprus Mail. Despite this however, he said many motorists were themselves opting for the change.
Unlike saloon cars however, taxis, vans and motorbikes must obtain the new plates by the end of the year or face a fine. This is for a variety of different reasons, according to the minister.
He said taxi drivers had asked for the new plates as a requirement to help put an end to counterfeiting by illegal taxi drivers, something which was rife, Mitsopoulos said.
As far as trucks and vans were concerned, he said ‘A’ licensed trucks and vans would carry different plates to ‘B’ licensed in order to help authorities differentiate between the two. This is why they must all be changed, he said.
“’A’ licensed trucks are permitted to carry any goods, usually transporting products for different companies while ‘B’ licensed trucks and vans are only allowed to transport goods belonging to the company the vehicles are registered to,” Mitsopoulos said.
In reference to motorbikes, the minister said police had asked that they all have new plates because many owners had put tiny, illegible plates on their vehicles. “High powered motorbikes often carry small or no plates at all and so for safety purposes it was decided that they should also be forced to carry the new European standard plates,” the minister said.
In addition motorcycles and mopeds plates are coloured white and fitted to the rear only. Those fitted to taxis are yellow and hire cars red.
The new plates will be in the same format as previous plates but between the letters on the left and the numbers on the right, there will be a two digit number signifying the month of registration and below that, a two digit number signifying the year of registration in smaller font.
Front and rear plates will both be white for new saloon-car licence plates as opposed to previously when the front was white and the rear yellow. The size of the plate will depend on the size of the vehicle and plates can only be issued by shops licensed by the Road Transport Department (RTD). The RTD has issued these shops with the specific font and sizes which need to be issued depending on the vehicle.
The change from the old system according to head of the RTD, Soteris Kolettas was to only use letters from the Latin alphabet which correspond to the Greek alphabet and to meet European standards relating to size and font. The twelve letters which will be used are A, B, E, H, K, M, N, P, T, X, Y and Z with M being the current letter.
Fewer then the required 1,000 vehicles were registered under the previous letter, L, but due to it not being part of the new twelve letters, on June 3 when the new plates were being issued, it was moved to the next eligible letter.