Israelis Importing So Many Cars, License Numbers Are Running Low

Not long ago, Israelis largely relied on public transport to get around, but those days are long gone

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David Lev,

Seven digit license plate
Seven digit license plate

Not long ago, Israelis largely relied on public transport to get around, but nowadays, tens of thousands of brand new vehicles appear on the country's roads each month. In a sign of the increasing prosperity among many Israelis, the Transport Ministry is planning to expand the number of digits on license plates in Israel from seven digits to eight – in order to ensure that there are enough plate numbers to go around for all the new cars coming into the country.

According to Ministry statistics, some 230,000 new cars are imported into Israel each year. The current “bank” of seven-digit license plate numbers is expected to run out within four years, the Ministry said – meaning that at that point there will at least 10 million vehicles on Israel's roads. Israel's population on the eve of Rosh Hashana last September was 7,933,200. With eight-digit plates, it is expected that the country will have enough combinations to ensure that each vehicle imported in the next 50 years will have a unique ID number.

Distribution of the new license plates will begin before the “deadline.” The Ministry will now consider designs for the new plates. The Ministry sent out word of its plan Monday to a large number of government organizations and private companies and businesses that are going to have to make major adjustments in the way they do business in order to accommodate the new system.

Among those are many private companies, along with the Derech Eretz company – which operates toll roads on the Cross Israel Highway and the “fast lane” into Tel Aviv on Road 1 – which utilize automatic license plate readers that will have to be reprogrammed to recognize the new numbers.