My Nova Scotia Licence Plate Collection

and Guide to Nova Scotia Plates
A Special Page at Bill's Site
This page is best seen on your computer, not your phone!     Last updated Dec 1, 2021,

I do not claim to be any kind of expert on NS plates but I do include enough information
about them in this page that it might be fair to say this is somewhat of a guide, not just a display. Having said
that, I freely acknowledge that there are experts out there, particularly Ryan Samson, who is in the process
of "writing the book" on NS plates, hopefully to be published in 2022.  Ryan and others have collections that
put mine to shame.

Back to Licence Plate Opening Page             Back to overall Marscan Opening Page

 

Acknowledgement:   I cannot display these plates without extending my thanks to fellow collectors and to antique dealers who made this possible to amass in just a few months.  Most of these Nova Scotia plates came via Bernie Rumbolt, Dave Hickey, Clair of Great Village antiques fame and Brett Spencer.   I particularly want to thank Brett for all the help he has given me beyond the plates i bought from him. 

Information about NS plates that is included here regarding registrations, formats types, codes, dates of issue, etc comes from a variety of sources whose accuracy I have not necessarily verified.  I appreciate very much the work that various compilers have done to come up with this information.  Principal sources are:   Vehicle registration plates of Nova Scotia - Wikipedia   

The High Road :: License Plate News     Service Nova Scotia - Vehicle Registration & Plates

Most information here for the modern era comes from a current senior official at the Registry of Motor Vehicles who has kindly shared a great deal of information with me.

For a much more comprehensive outline of NS plates historically over the years, including ranges of serials and totals issued,
I highly recommend you go to
All About License Plates     which is open to the general public, or join ALPCA and access the archives and back issues of PLATES magazine.
 

 

Before my display of plates in generally chronological order I am showing you first a special sub-collection acquired in July 2021 via Dave and from an unknown collector who gathered these special plates together over the course of 18 years.   These plates are shown here together but do also appear in the chronologically correct spot in my main display.

 

and a later addition:



 

 

 

PART 1 PASSENGER AND COMMERCIAL PLATES

These are the two basic categories in most jurisdictions.  They form the main part of my Nova Scotia collection, and in theory my aim would be to have at least one plate in these two categories from each year of issue.   I am displaying these basic two categories together here as they in general over the years had the same colours and the same base design, with only the serial (letters and numbers) differing, right up to around 1978 when they diverged.

In this section I have arbitrarily divided the plates into eras:


As the years have progressed there has been a move toward base plates that are used for several or many years, with stickers used to validate on an annual or bi-annual basis. In the case of years in which there was a sticker of some sort issued instead of a new plate, I do not at present have any ambition to obtain those individual years, and instead am merely looking to have the appropriate base plates. 

The passenger category began in 1918 with the first provincially issued  plates, but there were officially-sanctioned self-made plates prior to that.   In the modern era there have been special plates issued and applied to passenger vehicles such as vanity plates, amateur radio plates, etc, but I am including those in Part 2 of my collection as I have no plan to obtain each year of their issue.  Passenger plates prior to around 1924 can be quite expensive, and I may never have these.  This illustration shows samples of most of the provincially issued plates in that era, but I DO NOT own any of these, nor do I have any of the pre-provincial plates from before 1918.

Commercial plates began around the same time but I am not certain what was the exact first year (possibly 1920). These plates were in the earlier years mounted on most vehicles that were not considered passenger vehicles, but over the years other categories have split away from the commercial category.  These and other specialty categories are included in Part 2.  Note that since 1987 small commercial vehicles (under 5000 kg loaded) use passenger plates.    You will see that my Commercial collection has mostly gaps prior to around 1950, and I am always anxious to fill those gaps.   I began collecting Commercial later than Passenger, which is a partial explanation for the missing years.

If you are looking for more information on the early plates,and indeed on NS plates in general, I suggest you access websites such as World License Plates and All About Plates, and if really interested, join ALPCA (the American License Plate Collectors Association) and access their archives.   While I myself have access to those archives I cannot reproduce images and detailed information from them, as that is a condition of membership.    I and many others are looking forward with great interest to the forthcoming history of NS licence plates being written by Ryan Samson.
 

1918 to 1923 ARE NOT YET ACQUIRED
1922 no image available at this time
The images above are NOT plates in my collection. They are specimen photos from various sources. Please let me know if any are of your plates and you object to the image being shown here as a guide. Various sources indicate that 1920 was the first year for C plates (Commercial).


 

YEAR PASSENGER COMMERCIAL
1924
Yellow on Black

 For 1924 to 1927, both long and short plates were issued to suit the length of the serial

This 1924 shortie is in beautiful shape!




1924 long plate
 

I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year
1925 Black on Cream

 
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1926 White on Dark Green
In 1926, and continuing to 1928, passenger vehicles were divided
into lightweight and heavyweight (division point was 3000 lbs) and
being issued different plates. The numerical part of the serial did not repeat so that the lower numbers were on the lightweight plates, and higher on the heavyweight plates.






 
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1927 Yellow on Black
 


Heavyweight plate not yet obtained

 

I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1928 Black on Orange


In 1928 the lightweight plate had no L prefix



This was the last year for the short-lived division between light and heavyweight passenger vehicles.
 

I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1929 White on Red

 

1930 Red on Cream

 



 
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

From 1931 to 1952 Nova Scotia issued passenger plates on which the first number represented a particular group of counties of issue, as follows:
2 Kings and Hants
3 Yarmouth, Digby, Annapolis
4 Shelburne, Queens, Lunenburg
5 Colchester, Cumberland
6 Pictou, Antigonish, Guysborough
7 Cape Breton, Victoria, Inverness, Richmond
8 and 9  Halifax

I have no information re any possible similar scheme for Commercial plates.
 
1931 White on Black
 


 
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1932 Black on Yellow
 


 
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1933 Orange on Black
 


 

A 1933 pair.  Both have rust, but one is much better than the other.

1934 White on Blue

 
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1935 Blue on White

 
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1936 White on Red
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1937 Deep Yellow on Black
 


 
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1938 Black on Yellow


 
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1939 White on Green

 
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1940 White on Black
 



 
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1941 Black on Cream
For 1941, passenger serials changed from
 (one or two digits) hyphen (three digits)  to
(single digit) hyphen (two digits) hyphen (two digits)


 
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1942 Black on Pea Green

 
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1943 White on Black


 
The 1943 passenger plate was also used in 1944,
with a black and white on red window sticker.




Image courtesy of Dave Hunter at Avon Valley Antiques

Because these stickers were applied to the window,
very few of them survive.   The image shown is for your interest and information.  I DO NOT have a physical sticker.  This is a photo of
a copy of a 1944 sticker that is displayed in Avon River Antiques
in Windsor, NS.  Check Dave's great stock of licence plates and
other collectibles on FB or in person.

I have seen in some sources a statement that there were in fact a small number of 1944 plates issued, for new registrations, which of course during the war years were rare.   This was purportedly in the same colour scheme as 1943.
 

Commercial plates were revalidated in the same way as Passenger plates, with a window sticker.

According to "All About License Plates" there was a very
small run (about 100) of White on Black 1944 commercial plates

 

1945 Black on Cream

 


1945 was a relatively rare Commercial year as only
about 2500 were issued.
1946 Black on Gray

 
1947 White on Black


 
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1948 Black on Pale Green


 
1949 Black on Cream

 
1950 Black on Gray

 
I have not yet obtained a commercial plate
for this year

 

1951 Black on Orange



 
The aluminum period, 1952 to 1956

In this five-year period, there was a somewhat confusing sequence of base plates and tabs. These plates were made of aluminum rather than steel, with an unpainted background, with black embossed serials. 

For 1952, passenger cars were issued with a 1952 base plate.   During 1953, any new registrations received a similar 1953 base plate, but all previously-registered passenger vehicles received a blue 1953 tab to place over the bottom of the 1952 plate.  As there were far fewer new registrations than continuing ones, the 1953 base plate is much scarcer.   All of the 1953 passenger base plates commence with "10".    For 1954, 1955, and 1956 the 1952 and 1953 base plates had aluminum tabs in respectively, black, white and green, as shown below.   All 1953 base plates commence with 10.  1952 base plates issued in 1954 or later commence with 11 or greater.

Commercial plates were issued in a similar manner, and this may be true for other types as well, such as Farm and Trailer plates.
 

1952 Black on Aluminum  

 .  
It is my understanding that the county group prefix number system remained in effect this one last year, and therefore the highest "first digit" for the 1952 plates is 9.

1952 plates issued in 1952 commence with a first number of 9 or less



This 1952 Commercial base is in great condition.   This number indicates that it is a 1952-dated plate that was issued after 1953.
1953 for continuing registrations was the 1952 plate with a white on light blue tab  

 

I do not have any commercial 1952 or 1953 base plates with tabs
1953 for new registrations was a black on aluminum 1953 base plate

All 1953 plates commence with the number 10





This plate is in poor condition but is nevertheless
a scarce plate.  Assuming these were issued in the same way as thepassenger plates, there are likely very few of these around.     There were about 7000 1953's issued, as compared to over 38,000 1952's.
For 1954 those who already had 1952 or 1953 plates received a white on black tab.
New registrations in 1954 received a 1952 base plate (not a 1953) with a first number higher than 10, plus the 1954 tab.



1952 base from 1952, with a 1954 tab

1953 base with a 1954 tab
 

 

I do not have any commercial 1952 or 1953 base plates with tabs
New registrations in 1955 received a 1952 plate and a black on white 1955 tab.

Those who were reregistering continued with their existing plate and received the 1955 tab.

 

1952 base plate issued in 1954 or later, with a 1955 tab


1953 base plate with a 1955 tab

 

I do not have any commercial 1952 or 1953 base plates with tabs
New registrations in 1956 received a 1952 plate and a white on green 1956 tab.

Those who were reregistering continued with their existing plate and received the 1956 tab.

 


1952 plate issued after 1953, with a 1956 tab

I do not yet have a 1953 plate with a 1956 tab

 

I do not have any commercial 1952 or 1953 base plates with tabs
 

The early modern era, 1957 to 1971
(The Yellow and Black Era)

In this period there was a return to painted steel plates, and initially to annual plate replacement and colour change. 
County group codes were gone.


Commencing in 1961, Passenger plates began again to be used for more than one year, but with stickers instead of metal tabs.  The 1960 plate was used for 1961, the 1962 plate for 1963, and the 1964 plate was also for 1965.  The 1966 plate was used also in 1967 and 1968, and finally in this era, the 1969 plate was used also in 1970 and 1971.   The 1969 plate was the first one with a designed spot for an on-plate sticker.

 Commercial plates continued to be issued annually throughout this period until 1970, when stickers were issued for Commercial plates for the first time.

1957 Black on White

(These are the only plates in the era that are not Yellow and Black)

 

 



 
1958 Light Yellow on Black

 
1959 Black on Light Yellow


 
1960 Pale Yellow on Black  

 

1961 Black on Pale Yellow
(Commercial only)
 

 

For passenger cars in 1961, a black on red window sticker was issued to go with the 1960 plate.
 

 

 

1962 Black on Pale Yellow  

 

 



Note that although there was a new Commercial plate for 1962,
it had the same colours as 1961.
   

For passenger cars in 1963, a black on yellow window sticker was issued to go with the 1962 plate.
 

 

 

1964 Passenger Yellow on Black

1964 Commercial
Black on Yellow
 
 

 

1965 Commercial Yellow on Black  

For passenger cars in 1965, a white on green window sticker was issued to go with the 1964 plate.

 



 
1966 Black on Yellow  

 

1967 Commercial Yellow on Black  

For passenger cars in 1967, a black on white sticker was affixed to the 1966 plate.

 



 
1968 Commercial Black on Yellow  

For passenger cars in 1968, a white on red sticker was affixed to the 1966 plate.

 



 
1969 Yellow on Black  

 

 

In 1970, a gold on black sticker was affixed to the 1969 plate. Passenger and Commercial

 

 

For registrations expiring in 1971, a black on gold sticker was affixed to the 1969 plate.  Passenger and Commercial

 

 

MULTI-YEAR BLUE ON WHITE NUMERIC ERA 1972-1978 (with extension to 1986)
 
 

With the introduction of this passenger plate, the previous issues were no longer valid. For passenger plates the one plate was valid for all of these years, and it overlapped beyond, into the alphanumeric era that began in 1979.   Vehicles with these numeric plates retained them with annual renewals right through to the end of 1986, when this series of plates was finally replaced completely with the alphanumeric series.  This means that there are plates in both series with stickers in the 80's.  Note that the plates remained with the vehicle, not the owner.

Passenger plates began at 2-00-00 and therefore, as in the past, there were no low number (1 to 4 digit) plates.

These plates were revised to a reflectorized background in 1976.  All plates in this era were steel.

Validations expired uniformly on December 31 of each year, with the stickers indicating the registration year. 
Sticker colours are as follows:

1972 Blue on white
1973 Yellow on red
1974 Red on yellow
1975 White on black
1976 Red on white
1977 White on light green
1978 Blue on white
1979 Red and black on white

The following colours were also used for the stickers on the
alphanumeric plates introduced in 1979, but the design and size was slightly different.

1980 Green and beige on white
1981 White on magenta
1982 White on blue
1983 White on green
1984 White on black
1985 Red and gold on White
1986 Green and black on white

The plates themselves span several years and there were changes as these years progressed.

 

1972 Type 1 base plate
 Light blue on a white non-reflectorized background.
Note that the background "white" varies considerably from "white white" to decidedly off-white, sometimes almost cream.  Images also vary due to lighting when the photo was taken.

 

These plates remained valid for use with stickers until 1986

 

This relatively low-numbered plate was likely a first-year issue in 1972, but survived into the overlap period that is explained below.  It is is remarkably good condition for its years of service.


 

 

Blue on white Commercial plates commenced in 1972 with C3-00-00 and running to C-9-99-99. 

 

I still need to acquire a Commercial plate from this period

 1975 Type 2 Passenger Plate has a darker blue on a reflectorized white background. This type began with serial 38-50-00. The highest serial produced was 66-39-99.

These 1975 plates remained valid for use with stickers until 1986.


1975 Type 2 Commercial

Sources indicate that these sub types were issued:
1975 in the range C-1-00-00 to
C1-99-99
1975 in the range C2-00-00 to
C2-50-28


 





 

 

 



Note that the 1975 series has lower numbers
than the 1972 series

 

In 1976 the previous blue on white commercial plates
were replaced by a new red on white base plate.  The red on white plate had serials in the range
C19-00 to C9-87-38.











 

THE GREAT TRANSITION 1979 TO 1986
I lived through this period as an adult with a vehicle, and with at least a casual interest in licence plates, and yet I still find this period confusing.  I will try to explain this as well as I can.  
 
Beginning in June of 1979 the Registry of Motor Vehicles began issuing a Passenger alphanumeric base plate, commencing with AAA-001, and with staggered validations replacing the standard December expiries.   Validations continued to be for one year duration.    This series is described in more detail below.

For reasons that are lost in time, the Registry did not immediately terminate and replace the existing numeric plates.  These continued in use for re-validations right through to 1986.   In addition and even more inexplicably, new numeric plates were also issued as replacements for losses and deterioration.   I have also read that they were issued to people who had arrived from other jurisdictions and were exchanging their existing plates for Nova Scotia ones.    The numeric plates continued to have December expiries, and therefore all stickers on these plates should read DEC 31 over XX (last two digits of year of expiry) with the very last of these reading DEC. 31 over 86.

 

FROM THIS POINT ON, COMMERCIAL PLATES ARE SHOWN SEPARATELY, FOLLOWING PASSENGER PLATES.  This is due to the fact that light commercial vehicles began to be issued passenger plates at this time, and Commercial plates from this point on varied greatly in appearance from the new Passenger plates.

 

ALPHANUMERIC PASSENGER PLATES INTRODUCED IN 1979
AND REMAINING CURRENT TODAY

Note that with this series registrations became staggered so that instead of all expiring at the end of the calendar year, they expired at the end of the month, 12 months after date of validation.  

The Registry of Motor Vehicle instituted alphanumeric plates in the three-letter, three digit format commencing in June of 1979.  The first plate issued was AAA-001, with AAA-000 being reserved for use as a sample distributed to other motor vehicle departments.

At the same time the Registry converted to staggered validations.  These were still for one year, but expired 12 months in the future.  Thus the first stickers read June 1980. 

This alphanumeric series remains currently in effect, as of June 2021 spanning 42 years.  At this time  the series has reached almost to the end of the G's, and therefore it is obvious that the 3-letter/3-number format can continue onwards for many years.   All of these plates, regardless of design modifications over the years, remain valid if continuously in use.   For example, if a person had obtained the ABC-321 plate back in 1979 and continuously had registered vehicles through to today, that plate would have gone with the person from vehicle to vehicle and still be on the current vehicle.   A few A series plates can still be seen on the roads today, but most older plates have gone due to attrition. This can be due to deterioration of the plate, requiring a replacement, but usually it is due to the original registrant either no longer having a vehicle, or having registered and plated a new vehicle while still having the older one, and subsequently disposing of the older vehicle.  The older plate then is removed and discarded.   It is possible, for a fee, to change plates.   For example in that sort of case, if I bought a new car today and plated it with GZZ-123, but still had my old car with DST-707, and then sold this older car, the DST-707 would be thrown out or put on a wall as a keepsake, but it would be no longer "on the road". But if I really like DST-707 I could go to Access Nova Scotia and switch out the plates and put DST-707 on the new vehicle and discard the almost brand new GZZ-123.

 Up until December of 1993 the validation was for one year.  As of January 1994 it was changed to two years.


 

Sticker Colours Used on Alphanumeric Passenger Plates

1980 Green and beige on white
1981 White on magenta
1982 White on blue
1983 White on green
1984 White on black
1985 Red and gold on White
1986 Jan to Nov.  Black on green
1986 Dec  Green and black on white
1987 Black on lavender
1988 Black on yellow and white
1989 Blue on white
1990 Green on beige
1991 White on magenta
1992 White on black
1993 Red on gold
1994 Blue on white
1995 Blue on yellow
1996 Black on yellow
1997 Blue on white
1998 Green on beige
1999 White on magenta
2000 White on black
2001 Red on gold
2002 Black on green
2003 Black on Magenta and white
2004 Black on yellow
2005  Blue on white
2006 Green on tan
2007 White on red
2008 White on black
2009 Red on tan



2010 Black on green
2011 Black on Magenta and white
2012 Black on yellow
2013 Blue on white
2014 Green on tan
2015 White on red
2016 White on black
2017 Red on tan
2018 Black on green
2019 Black on Magenta and white

 

2020 Black on yellow
2021 Blue on white
2022 Green on tan
2023 White on red
There have so far been three main versions of the alphanumeric plates, each with varieties within that type. The intent in this part of my Nova Scotia run is to not only include one plate from each variety, but also to have a plate starting with each "first letter" that is found in that variety. Thus, the first variety ran from AAA-001 to BRS-999, and therefore I will have an A plate and a B plate, but I will also have a B plate in the next variety, as it included BRT-001 to BZZ-999, and so on.

Alphanumeric Part 1:
The pre-Bluenose plates, issued 1979 to 1989 (AAA-001 to BRS-999)
There were three main varieties over time: Steel with rounded corners, Aluminum with rounded corners, and Aluminum with squared corners.  As of 2021 a few of these plates are still in use.  Note that the letters I, O and Q are not used in the standard passenger serials, but are available in Amateur Radio and Vanity Bluenose plates.  The three-zero numeral combination is thought to not have been issued.

 

T

A very early issue steel plate, not in the best of condition.
I will continue to look for an AAA plate, but for now this one is not bad.
These steel plates with rounded corners were issued
AAA-001 to AWC-999




A later example in better shape
 


In 1986 aluminum replaced steel for passenger plates.

Aluminum with rounded corners.  Issued AWF-001 to BJH-059





 

 


Squared corner variety:




Aluminum with squared corners.  Issued BJK-707 to BRS-999. 

 

JANUARY 1988: IN A MAJOR CHANGE, PLATES BEGAN TO "STAY WITH OWNER" INSTEAD OF "STAY WITH VEHICLE".
 


 
Alphanumeric Part 2:
 Bluenose border plates issued from 1989 to 2011 (BRT-001 to FAD-999).  These plates remain extremely common on the roads.

These passenger plates essentially had the centre hyphen replaced by the screened image of the Bluenose, and with the serial now the only embossed component.   Non-passenger and specialty plates, other than amateur radio and vanity plates, were unaffected by the Bluenose introduction, and therefore, as I understand it, they remained unchanged from when aluminum was introduced near the end of the non-Bluenose era.  I have seen this notation: "BRT-001 to CCV-999 Helvetica die, CCW-001 to CVW-999 New Brunswick die".

 

 



This is a very early Bluenose, as they began at BRT-001.  Still in great shape and with only the 1990 sticker so likely was used only one year. 



The CPP plate is off my own car.  It is a 1993 issue, and lasted for many years
 until I replaced it with a specialty plate in 2021.

 

Commencing in January 1994 validations became for two years, with expiry stickers indicating 24 months after the transaction.  This means the first two year stickers are for January 1996.  Prior to this change renewals were for one year, and stickers were alternately placed in the top left and top right panels.  After 1996 the renewals have been for two years and stickers are normally placed at the top right.  

Commencing in May of 1995 only one sticker was issued, to go on the back plate, but two plates were still being issued.

Commencing with CVX-001 in November 2005 only a single plate was issued, to be mounted on
the rear.   Earlier plates could be retained on the front but no stickers were issued for these.





A D plate



An E plate

 

I still need an F prefix bordered plate (FAA 001 to FAD 999)

 

Alphanumeric Part 3:
 Borderless plates issued from November 2011 or later where there was old stock to issue.  Border removed along with the removal of the left sticker panel.  The passenger series began with FAE-001. 

These are the current passenger plates of Nova Scotia,
but all previous alphanumeric plates are still valid with a current sticker.  As of October 2021 the GW series was being issued.

 



 


 
 

  SAMPLE PLATES

In Nova Scotia these appear to only be available in the base passenger design in any particular year.

Sample plates originally were produced by jurisdictions all across North America with the main purpose being to trade with other states a provinces so that everyone knew what were the legitimate current plates.   In many or most jurisdictions these were also available to anyone on request, with or without a fee.   Samples were introduced in Nova Scotia back in the twenties and are still issued today.  Nowadays there is a charge of approximately $25 for one of these.   In this province, until the introduction of alphanumeric passenger plates in 1979, the sample simply had zeroes, but the number of zeroes has varied.   Since 1979 the serial has been SAM-000, though some sources indicate there may have been some issued with SAMPLE.   In 1950 and 1951 sample plates had the word "SAMPLE" embossed above or below the zero serial. Otherwise these plates differ from regular plates only in the serial itself.



 


 



 
 



 

 

1972 base sample
 

I have yet to sort this out with certainty, but with the introduction of alphanumeric plates, it seems that AAA-000 was struck multiple times and distributed to other MV departments as a sample.   In later years there has also been SAM-000 and SAMPLE, available to the public. 


OPTIONAL PASSENGER PLATES

These are plates that are available to replace the regular passenger plates.  There may or may not be a charge for these, and there may or may not be a restriction as to who may obtain these.  

1.Optional Plates that use the Standard Base Plate
Vanity Plates
As in most other Canadian jurisdictions, Nova Scotia offers a vanity or personalized plate, for an additional charge.  This is a phenomenom that is relatively recent.   In this province the vanity plates are identical to regular plates with the exception of the serial itself.  Up to seven characters and spaces are allowed, and as in other jurisdictions there are combinations that are not allowed, these being either that they would duplicate a format of regular licence plates, or they are objectionable in some way.   For example, you cannot obtain JBD-989 because three letters followed by three digits is the format for regular passenger plates.  You cannot have USUK as that is objectionable.
Nova Scotia vanity plates commenced in April, 1989.

THIS TYPE OF PLATE IS ISSUED IN PAIRS, WITH ONE TO GO ON THE FRONT, AND THE OTHER (WITH VALIDATION STICKER) ON THE REAR.
 

Amateur Radio Plates

Amateur radio plates, also known as "ham plates" have been available in Nova Scotia since 1959.   These depict the amateur radio call letters of the plate owner, and are only available to qualified amateur radio operators.   They might be regarded as a special case of vanity plate, as they are "made to order", but they do not have an extra charge due to the fact that amateur radio operators could provide assistance to the authorities in cases of disasters, etc. and these plates do help to clearly identify vehicles of hams.   The following plates all depict my own ham call letters.   I began in 1978 as VE1BWC but changed later to VE1CV.  These plates were on my vehicles, but currently I do not use ham plates.  My current call sign is VE1CY and I may return to using ham plates sometime in the future.
Note that VE1 was the only prefix for Nova Scotia for many years, but VA1 was added in 2001.

Note that due to the fact that the federal government does issue call letters that may form objectionable words, the province does
go along with this and issue the corresponding plates.

THIS TYPE OF PLATE IS ISSUED IN PAIRS


 

My first amateur radio plate, rounded corners in steel.  No hyphen, as is correct for radio call signs.

 

Amateur radio plate with reflectorized background.  Hyphen added. Steel construction.

 

My second ham callsign, on the Bluenose base.

 

2. Optional Passenger Plates that have a design differing from the standard passenger plate

These are plates that are of a design and serial type that differ from the regular passenger plates but are commonly or exclusively found on passenger vehicles or light trucks.    Some require an extra fee to be paid, some have no added fee, and some are entirely free as a reward for volunteer service.   Note that amateur radio plates and vanity plates are not included here because in this province those plates have the same design as regular plates.   Unlike in the regular series depicted above I am not indicating in any detail the evolution of these plates, but in general they followed the same line of development as passenger plates, e.g. transition from steel to aluminum, variations in borders, reflectorization, etc.    I have not pursued these variations to the extent I have with regular passenger plates so therefore I am simply showing the various types, but with variations when I have them.   I am including blank notated boxes for types I do not yet have.

Types indicated with a an asterisk are available only to qualified applicants and have no additional fee, or are free in compensation for volunteer services. 

Remaining types are available to anyone who applies, even, in the case of heritage plates, if the person is not of that heritage.  These plates do have an added fee of around $50 at each renewal. Currently I have a Gaelic plate on my car.  While I am the child of Scottish immigrants I cannot in any way speak Gaelic!   There are no questions asked at the counter and therefore I could just as easily have obtained a Mi'kmaq or Acadian plate. 

I intend to plate my own vehicle with as many of the specialty plates as I can.  As stated above, some are available to anyone, and as well I am eligible for ham plates, veteran plates and accessible parking plates.   The trick will be to retain the plate I take off rather than having to turn it in!
 

Type and Notes Serial Format   In my Collection (or smaller specimen photo if I do not have one)
Veteran*
Commenced February 2003
Restricted, must be a veteran as certified the the Royal Canadian Legion.  No fee.

Three letters followed by two digits.

 The first letter is A or B for Veteran, F for Acadian, G for Gaelic, L for Buy Local, M for Mi'kmaq, and P for Protected Species.  Presumably for any of these types additional first letters can be used as necessary. If all second and third letters are allowed (which is NOT the case), there could be 67,600 plates for each first letter.

 

 

   NOT IN MY COLLECTION. SPECIMEN IMAGE ONLY.
 
Acadian Heritage
Commenced January 2012
Unrestricted, anyone paying the additional fee may obtain these plates.
   NOT IN MY COLLECTION. SPECIMEN IMAGE ONLY. 
Gaelic Heritage
Commenced May 2018
Unrestricted, anyone paying the additional fee may obtain these plates.
 

This plate was briefly on my own vehicle in 2021, until I replaced it with
the Mi'kmaq Heritage plate shown a couple of lines down.
Alba Nuadh is Nova Scotia in Gaelic

Buy Local
Commenced August 2013
Unrestricted, anyone paying the additional fee may obtain these plates.
   NOT IN MY COLLECTION. SPECIMEN IMAGE ONLY.
Mi'kmaq Heritage
Commenced June 2018 with MAA001
Unrestricted, anyone paying the additional fee may obtain these plates.
   

 This plate is on my own vehicle as of September 2021 but has a June 2022 expiry sticker as installed.
 

Protected Species (Conservation)
Commenced April 2003
Unrestricted, anyone paying the additional fee may obtain these plates.
   NOT IN MY COLLECTION. SPECIMEN IMAGE ONLY.
Firefighter*
Commenced April 2001

3 letters 1 digit followed by FF

 
Volunteer Firefighter*
Commenced December 2001

Restricted, must be certified by the department. Comes with free registration.

3 letters 1 digit followed by VFF  
Retired VFF*
[proposed to be introduced in 2022]
     
GSAR Volunteer
Commenced December 2001
Restricted, must be certified by the team leader. Comes with free registration.
3 letters 1 digit followed by SAR     NOT IN MY COLLECTION. SPECIMEN IMAGE ONLY.
Retired GSAR*
[proposed to be introduced in 2022]
     
Accessible Parking*
Commenced September 1981.  I have seen a report that this was the first handicap plate in Canada.

Restricted, must be certified by a physician. No additional fee.

A digit, a letter and two digits  
Honorary Consul
Instituted October 2020

Restricted, must be certified by the consulate. No additional fee.

HNC plus three digits
(Note that this format is the same as
for regular passenger plates)

This is most likely the rarest current type of Nova Scotia plate. In 2021 there were only 21 honorary consuls based in Halifax, plus the US Consul-General.
   This plate uses the standard Bluenose base but with the slogan replaced by the words "Honorary Consul".   Its use of the standard passenger serial format of three letters and three digits does mean that HNC cannot be used for regular passenger plates.   For interest here are the nations that currently have a consul in Nova Scotia:  Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden and the USA.  It is unclear whether or not the USA is eligible as their representative is a paid consul-general, not an honorary consul.   An honorary consul is a person who represents another country but is not substantially paid for their services as an occupation.  Usually they are businesspersons or professionals with a hereditary connection to the country involved (but not necessarily).

 

 
NOT IN MY COLLECTION. SPECIMEN IMAGE ONLY.



SPECIAL USE AND NON-PASSENGER PLATES

 

Type and Notes

 

In My Collection. (If more than one these are shown in age order, starting with the oldest). 
 (or smaller specimen photo if I do not have one)
Dealer

ThIS general Dealer category was replaced by New and Used categories in 1980.

Dealer plates were introduced very early, possibly in 1920.  The format has varied over time, generally a number with a D prefix or suffix, but some years with DEALER or DLR.  In the period 1964 to 1971 they were replaced by the Dealer Salesman type, then reintroduced for 1972.

 




 
Dealer Salesman
This category is obsolete.  Serials began with S.  Thought to have been in effect through the 1940's and into the early 50's
No image available
Dealer (New Vehicle)
This type was introduced in 1980.
This plate can be used on all types of vehicles other than motorcycles.
The position of the hyphen has varied over time.
Dealer (Used Vehicle)
This type was introduced in 1980. This plate can be used on all types of vehicles other than motorcycles.

The position of the hyphen has varied over time.

Antique Auto
Commenced 1963

These plates began with digits only but have evolved into having an initial letter followed by three digits. 

 



   


Commercial (from 1978)

In 1978 the red on white commercial plates were replaced by what canbe called the present series, all in black on yellow.  

 The C prefix in use since 1920 was abandoned and replaced by the format of 5 numerals followed by the letter A.  The series began with 10-000-A.  Over time the A suffix was exhausted, and B, C and now D have been issued.  All of these plates remain valid today.
  

Commencing in November 2005 only one plate began to be issued, that going on the front.

Note that Commercial plates issued prior to this changeover to
black on yellow are shown alongside the Passenger plates of
the same year in the previous section.

 


Note that commencing in 1987 most light commercial vehicles were issued passenger plates.   Commercial plates continued to be used for heavy vehicles as well as some specialized lighter vehicles such as ambulances and hearses.

 

 

Note that tractor trucks in interprovincial commerce use Prorated plates instead of Commercial plates.
 

 

 

 

 







 

Commencing with 94-000-C the commercial plates were
aluminum. and with square corners.

In late 2021 the D suffix was still being issued.


Commercial Half Year (Obsolete Type)
This category was used for Heavy Commercial vehicles, commencing in the early 1940's. The prefix began as X but was changed to CX in 1960, and finally ended in 1978 with the 1972 base and sticker. Replaced by other types of commercial plates.

The expiries for these were July 15 and Dec 31.  In the early years the July 15 expiry was embossed on the plate, and apparently vehicles expiring in December received regular plates. 

In the mid-50's the expiry was no longer embossed on the plate, nor was there a sticker.  Validation information was on the "paperwork" accompanying the plate.
 Commencing in 1969 plates were issued with two sticker boxes. Two different stickers were used each year to validate for the two halves of the year.

 



 

 

Farm (obsolete type). Commenced in 1930 and ended in 1978.
This type included tractors and other farm vehicles.

1952 Farm plate
 







 

FARM TRACTOR (LIMITED) 
This plate was issued in the period from 1951 to 1978, when both this type and regular F plates were replaced by FT plates. Format was FX plus 4 digits.

This plate allowed operation within 15 miles of the owner's farm.  This makes one wonder how far away other tractors worked?! 
NOT IN MY COLLECTION. SPECIMEN IMAGE ONLY.
Permanent Farm Tractor
Commenced November 1978

This Farm Tractor plate is steel and reflecforized.
A mint unused example.



This FT plate is newer, being aluminum and with square corners, and as well with a different font than the first example.
 
Farm and Fisher
These plates are commonly known as "farm" plates but are also available to commercial fishing entities.  These are for on-road vehicles.

Began in 1957 with the word "Farm" at the left, and changed to FM in 1960.  Some sources indicate these plates began in the 1940's; however this may be incorrect as the F type seemed to include various farm vehicles.









 
Trailer

Trailer plates began in the late 20's with a T suffix.  Some years
have the Trailer legend. 

From 1960 onwards the T has
been the prefix instead of the
suffix.

Heavy trailers or semi-trailers use PT plates.

 


This 1959 is possibly a tractor plate, not a trailer plate. 
Sources I have accessed
indicate that the T on trailer plates was at the end, not the front, until and including 1959, with the first year for the T at the front being 1960.



 



1969 Trailer Plate



Trailer Plate, Steel reflectorized with rounded corners.


 

Trailer Half Year
Obsolete type issued from about 1960 to 1972 (approx). Used same colours as Truck Half Year.

TX prefix, is obsolete.  I need information on this type.

 
no image available
Prorated Power Unit
This type originated in around 1982
 with the prefix PRP followed by 4 digits

When the limit was reached this was replaced
by PR and 5 digits, with a slogan PRP Commercial

This was replaced in turn in 1993 by the Open for Business type shown at the right, and finally with the Apportioned type still being issued today.

Like other NS plates the border was removed around 2011 to 2012.

 







Prorated Power Unit (Truck)
Prorated Trailer
Commenced November 1974
Commencing in 1993 the slogan "Prorated" was replaced with "Open for Business"



Note that these prorated plates (truck and trailer) stay on vehicles for years, and travel many thousands of kilometres.  It is rare to obtain them in great condition.  This trailer plate is missing part of its bottom edge, yet is better than most examples.

 

Tractor
This obsolete type began in the late 20's. using the T prefix.   Reportedly replaced around 1960 by the GT type shown below.  This type was mounted on industrial equipment.   In or around 1960 the T type and its T prefix was replaced by the GT type and the T prefix was used for trailers.
See the 1959 plate shown in the Trailer section, as it
may actually be a Tractor plate.

General Tractor
This is essentially the same type as Tractor but from
around 1960 onward.


This general tractor plate has squared corners but is in steel, unlike passenger plates that have squared corners only with aluminum construction.

 

Camper (Recreational Vehicle)
Commenced November 1977

Sprayer.  This obsolete type was produced approximately 1943 to 1956.  Began with a legend "Sprayer", replaced later with prefix SP. no image available
Public Vehicle
This obsolete type was produced approximately from 1951 to 1957. It had the legend "Public Vehicle" embossed at bottom or top, depending on year.
no image available

 

Restricted 

For use on provincially or municipally owned vehicles of all types.   Formerly were issued with a one-time fee of $20 with no renewal required.  Since October 2002, have regular fees and renewals, therefore many eligible vehicles now use regular plates.   Two types:  flat, as produced by the government's sign shop, and embossed, produced by the Waldale facility.


 

NOT IN MY COLLECTION. SPECIMEN IMAGE ONLY.
This is an example of an embossed type restricted plate.
The following two categories are technically not Nova Scotia provincial licence plates.

Department of National Defence

These plates are internally issued by the Department.  While they appear to have black numerals, some sources refer to them as dark green. Note that other federal departments and agencies use the normal provincial plates.
Other federal government agencies and departments currently use regular Nova Scotia plates.  These are seen with and without the red maple leaves at the top corners.
 
not available at this time (NOT IN MY COLLECTION. SPECIMEN IMAGE ONLY.
Supplemental Plates ("toppers") issued by Board of Public Utilities (now the Utilities Review Board) from about 1959 to 1981 and with at least one type still being issued today.

These had prefix codes as follows, but
it seems that this list is incomplete:
F   Freight Carrier
G General Freight Hauler
P Public Passenger Carrier
GS General Specialty Freight
PU Public Utilities Local Freight
S Special Commodity Hauler
SB School Bus
SB-P Combined School and Public
T Trailer
X Operated Outside NS
For colours and other information check at
All About License Plates

The school bus variety of this plate type is still currently
in use in 2021.  School buses will be seen with a black on
yellow commercial plate, topped with the smaller URB
plate in the same colours.






FX does not appear in the list at left. It is either Freight operating outside NS, or Half-Year freight.  If you can comment, please do!


 
Note that this prefix is not on the list
at the left.  I am guessing that NP means
 Non-Public Passenger Carrier.

 

School Bus 1982
 

MOTORCYCLE AND OTHER SMALLER VEHICLES
Motorcycle  
Motorcycle Dealer
Began approx 1920
  NOT IN MY COLLECTION. SPECIMEN IMAGE ONLY.
Motorcycle Vanity
Commenced June 2005
  These plates are the same as regular mc plates. They have the same restrictions on choice as their full size counterparts, except that they have a maximum of six characters and/or spaces.
Motorcycle Antique
Commenced May 2013
  NOT IN MY COLLECTION. SPECIMEN IMAGE ONLY.
Motorcycle Accessible Parking
Commenced November 2014
  no image available at this time NOT IN MY COLLECTION. SPECIMEN IMAGE ONLY.
Motorcycle Veteran
Commenced April 2017
  NOT IN MY COLLECTION. SPECIMEN IMAGE ONLY.
Motorcycle Restricted
Commenced 1974 
These plates are seen on municipal police motorcycles.  I estimate that at any given time there are only less than 20 of these active in the province. NOT IN MY COLLECTION. SPECIMEN IMAGE ONLY.
Moped,  This is for motorcycle or motor scooter type vehicles not capable of 70 km/h when loaded, and under 50 cc engine. Commenced in 1975 but continues to be rare, as there really are not many vehicles that need to be registered at all that meet this criterion.   NOT IN MY COLLECTION. SPECIMEN IMAGE ONLY.
Off Highway Vehicle

 

 
Off Highway Vehicle Dealer   Off Highway Vehicle