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Ever been in traffic and wondered why vehicles have so many different registration numbers and what they mean?

Understanding the meaning of the various numbers on vehicles will help you know to whom the vehicle in front of you belongs.

Vehicles owned by ordinary civilians have white plates at the front and yellow ones on the rear bumper with black printing.

The first number plates were denoted with the initial K followed by a letter that was a code for a region, such as A for Mombasa, and then another letter and a number up to 999.

This system has evolved to enable registration of more vehicles following the increasing numbers of automobiles on Kenyan roads.

We are currently in the fourth generation of number plates, namely the KCA 001A-KCZ 999Z series.

This started in 2014 following the end of the KBA 001A-KBZ 999Z series.

The registration system is currently at KCU.

Vehicles registered to the national government use the initials GK while those belonging to county governments use CG. For example vehicles belonging to the Kiambu government, which is listed as county 22, bear registration starting with 22 CG. The county code comes first then the initials.

However, governors’ vehicles use the abbreviation GVN followed by the specific county code, for example GVN 22… for the Kiambu governor’s vehicle.

Local authorities such as the Nairobi City Council vehicles have green number plates while those owned by parastatals, such as public schools and universities, are blue with white numbering.


For embassies and chartered diplomats, the initials CD on red plates with white letters and numbers are preceded by a country code.

The diplomatic number given to the embassies were assigned in the order that they recognised at Kenya’s independence.

The first three countries in this order are Germany, Russian Federation and Ethiopia which have the codes 1 CD, 2 CD and 3 CD respectively.

29 CD belongs to the United States of America while 123 CD, the last number according to the United Nations in 2008, belongs to the United Arab Emirates embassy.

Vehicles belonging to United Nations officials have the initials UN, for example 40 UN for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

International organisations operating in Kenya are also issued with red number plates with white lettering and the prefix KX.

Motorcycles also have unique registration numbers and now use the KMCA series, while tuktuks use KTWA.

The shape of the rear plate is dependent on whether the vehicle was bought new or second-hand.

Imported second-hand vehicles are registered using square rear number plates while brand new ones, such as the locally assembled models like the popular Suzuki Alto and Volkswagen Polo, have rectangular plates at the back with the entire registration number running across it.