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Nebraska license plate prefixes

November 8, 2010

In Illinois, license plate numbers were randomly generated across the state.

In Iowa, I was surprised to find that each plate was marked with the county in which the vehicle was registered. My license plate said “Story“.

Our plate in Iowa was "911 REY," translated into Spanish "911 KING." I was rather glad to get rid of that license plate.

Nebraska does something similar. You can tell a vehicle’s registration by looking at its license plate.

Nebraska doesn’t spell out the name of the counties, however. The ladies of Hooker County probably would not appreciate that.

Instead, Nebraska uses a numerical prefix on the plate number.

Scotts Bluff County is 21.

Yeah, you don't need to see my license plate number.

I was amused to discover recently that the phone book lists the county license plate prefixes.

It’s kinda handy, really. You can tell when someone’s not from around here.

I wondered how the numbers were assigned. It’s not on an alphabetical or geographic basis.

I learned from a Nebraska DMV website that the numbers were assigned back in 1922, based on the number of vehicles registered in each county.

Scotts Bluff County was at the beginning of its growth spurt in the 1920s, so it took the 21st spot.

If the numbers were reshuffled today, we’d scoot up the list a bit. Based on Wikipedia Census estimates, Scotts Bluff County is the sixth most populous county in Nebraska.

Copyright 2010 by Katie Bradshaw

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 9, 2010 7:20 pm

    Interestingly educational!

  2. June 23, 2014 10:18 pm

    I lived in 60 county. Frontier.


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