Background car news

Netherlands already has almost as many license plates as inhabitants

July 25, 2023

15 million license plates

“Every day we register more license plates than are terminated The number of license plates has now reached the high number of 15 million due to this continuous increase,” reports the RDW. Does this include suspended license plates? Yes, of course! “Vehicles that are not used for any reason can be suspended from their use on public roads for a certain duration. All such suspended vehicles do, however, simply become part of the 15 million. This is because the license plate registration remains valid and the suspension can be terminated at any time. Invalid license plates (for example with a theft signal or a ban on driving on the road) are not included,” said the RDW.

With 15 million license plates, the Netherlands already has almost as many license plates as inhabitants. At the end of May 2023, the population of the Netherlands was 17,861,351.

Nearly 9.5 million cars

According to the agency, there is increasing diversity on which vehicles a license plate can be found. The vast majority of the registered vehicle fleet consists of passenger cars: nearly 9.5 million cars are recorded in the RDW’s license plate register. In second place – with a very large difference compared to passenger cars – are mopeds and scooters with over 1.3 million license plates. Commercial vehicles – these can be vans, but also trucks, for example – also account for nearly 1.3 million license plates.

More license plates

There are also nearly 1.3 million trailers and semi-trailers in the Netherlands. “The latter category has been given license plates since 2003. Mopeds and mopeds received license plates from 2005. So together they now account for a considerable share,” says the RDW.

(Land) construction vehicles

RDW: “A new duck in the pie are the (agricultural) construction vehicles. These are tractors, but also earth-moving machinery and all kinds of towed equipment, among other things. This category has had an obligation to register since January 1, 2022. The registration of these vehicles once again caused a hefty increase in the total number of license plates. At the moment, it is about 720,000 vehicles. This means that this category has yet to lose out to motorcycles, of which there are more than 800,000 in the registration register.”

Electric vehicles with license plates

What about electric vehicles? Out of a total of 15 million license plates, only 4 percent are electric. Well, perhaps “only” is an incorrect word. Because we are still talking about over 390,000 all-electric passenger cars.

RDW: “Also, almost 10% (73,000 out of 762,000) of all moped bikes are already electric. And then of course we have the electric speed-pedelecs. More than 33,000 of these are now driving around. One road user who has not yet discovered electric driving is the motorcyclist. With only 1,600 units, the electric motorcycle can still be called a rarity.”

Why a license plate?

In the Netherlands, the license plate is assigned to a vehicle. Through an ascription, personal or company information is linked to a license plate. Thanks to the license plate, we can identify vehicles in the Netherlands and, where necessary, find out details of an owner or holder. This happens, for example, during a police speed check. A license plate can also be assigned a certain status, such as a theft signal. Also, the license plate number makes it possible to quickly request or exchange information. Public information can be accessed by anyone quickly and easily on the RDW website.