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The history of Kenyan car number plates

The current series of vehicle registration plates in Kenya are on a white plate with black lettering.

The format is LLL NNNL, where ‘L’ denotes a letter and ‘N’ denotes a digits.

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The older series of number plates were black with white or silver lettering, however, later in the older series, the front plates were reflective white with black lettering and the rear plates were reflective yellow with black lettering.

It is not known when the first vehicle was registered in Kenya, but it is thought to be before 1920.

At the time, single letters were attributed to each of the 14 registration districts;

N=Kiambu, E=Kisumu, J=Kitale, B, H, T, W=Nairobi, A=Mombasa, C=Nakuru, D=Kericho, F=Eldoret, G=Nyeri, K=Muranga (Fort Hall), L=Kisii, Q=Machakos, S=Lamu, V=Isiolo, Y=Nanyuki.

Also, a serial number of 1-9999 followed, on white on black plates, save for public transport vehicles such as buses, taxis and hire cars, which used black on white.

After the registration of vehicle KZZ 999, the second generation was started in 1989.

The series follow KAA 001A to KAZ 999Z.

The present KAA xxx A series had, the advantage being that each third letter of the number provided for 23,976 registrations instead of the previous 999.

After the registration of vehicle KAZ 999Z, the third generation was started in 2007 as KBA 001A.

The series would run from KBA 001A to KBZ 999Z.

In 2014, the government announced a revamp of the registration plates to a new look, featuring electronic chips.

After the registration of vehicle KBZ 999Z, the fourth generation was started in 2014 as KCA 001A.

The series ran from KCA 001A to KCZ 999Z.

After the registration of vehicle KCZ 999Z, the fifth generation was started in September 2020 with KDA 001A.

The series will run from KDA 001A to KDZ 999Z

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Other number sequences that are used in Kenya include;

  • The Kenyan Government – GK
  • The Kenyan County Governments – CG
  • Governors – GVN followed by their county code;
  • Kenya Army – KA
  • Kenya Air Force – KAF
  • Kenya Navy – KN
  • Kenya Agricultural Institute – KAI
  • Diplomats – N CD and they are red plates with white letters and numbers
  • Parastatals – blue plates with white letters and numbers
  • Motorcycles – KMCA series
  • Heavy Machinery – KHMA series
  • Tricycle – KTWA series
  • NGO – KX
  • Vehicle Dealers – KG

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