The new bridge linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau has given rise to a number of cars with three registration plates.

This car, for example, is visiting Hong Kong from Macau.

By Anthony Ivanoff - Own work, CC0,
By Anthony Ivanoff - Own work, CC0,

From top to bottom:

  1. The mainland Chinese plate issued by Guangdong Province. First is the character ‘粵’ which is the historical name for the Cantonese people. It’s black with a ‘Z’ district identifier to denote a visitor from a Special Administrative Region. The last character ‘澳’ is from Macau’s Chinese name. Of China’s provinces, only Guangdong issues plates for SAR visitors. Normal Chinese plates are blue. Even if a Macau SAR driver only visits Hong Kong SAR and not mainland China, this registration is needed because the bridge is under the jurisdiction of Guangdong Province and mainland Chinese law applies on the bridge.
  2. This is the car’s home plate of Macau. All Macau plates still start with M, but they will run out of that series soon. I don’t know why Macau people tend to hang their home plates below the mainland plate. Hong Kong cars crossing the border always keep their home plates in the primary position.
  3. This is a Hong Kong plate. It follows Hong Kong’s standard format “XX ####” but the “ZM” prefix denotes “Zhuhai & Macau” visitors and was created because of the new bridge. Regular series plates in Hong Kong will therefore skip the “ZM” prefix in the future. A small number of visitors from mainland China can also enter Hong Kong, and those get visitor plates with prefix ‘FV’ or ‘FU’.

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