There are many different license plates for motor vehicles in Germany. Red, green, black – and sometimes you can even find strange letters or unusual numbers on them. If you come across such a license plate in traffic, it often raises questions about its meaning. This is also the case with the so-called changeable license plate. In a post on the social platform “Reddit,” a user recently wanted to know what a small W above the stamp on a license plate means.

They were able to help him quickly: a so-called changeable license plate can be seen on the car from Ludwigsburg (LB). They are used when two vehicles with the same identification number are registered. This doesn’t often make sense, but sometimes it makes sense.

The requirements for such a license plate are important. The vehicles that share the number must be in the same vehicle class – for example two cars, two motorcycles or two trailers. But: You can’t mix, for example put a motorcycle and a car together. In addition, it is not permitted to drive both vehicles on the road at the same time. Either … or.

The changeable license plate is composed as follows: In the front, common part, there is the stamp plaque with the state coat of arms, the said “W” and the first part of the license plate ending. The HU badge for the respective vehicle can be found on a short, vehicle-related part of the license plate. It forms the last digit of the license plate. The common part must be exchanged when changing, the final number remains on the vehicle.

You may wonder what the point of such a license plate is – and there aren’t many scenarios in which you should consider split license plates. It is useful if, for example, you have a classic car and an everyday car and want to switch between them every now and then throughout the year. Or you own several motorcycles that you would like to swap depending on the tour you are planning.

Because it can actually be cheaper to register two vehicles this way. Some insurers offer corresponding tariffs, but you should still calculate it. Especially when it comes to classic cars, there are also special insurers for collectors’ vehicles that are rarely driven. There is no reduction in vehicle tax.

Another disadvantage: Not only is it not allowed to move both vehicles at the same time, but it is also forbidden to park the “deregistered” vehicle in public spaces. Without a complete changeable license plate, it must be on private property, otherwise you risk a fine.

The variable license plate has been on German roads since 2012. However, due to its disadvantages, it has not really caught on against seasonal license plates or – quite traditionally – different license plates for different vehicles.