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Civil Aircraft Registration Numbers

International Aircraft Registration Prefixes
Tail Numbers


An aircraft registration is a unique alphanumeric string that identifies a civilian aircraft. Because airplanes typically display their registration numbers on the aft fuselage just forward of the tail, in earlier times more often on the tail itself, the registration is often referred to as the “tail number”. In the United States, the registration number is also referred to as an “N-number”, as it starts with the letter N.

This de Havilland DH-88 “Comet” displays the registration G-ACSS. The “G-” prefix denotes that it is registered in the United Kingdom.

de Haviland DH-88 “Comet” (G-ACSS)

The de Havilland DH-88 “Comet” shown above displays the registration “G-ACSS”. The “G-” prefix denotes that it is registered in the United Kingdom.

International Standards


The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) maintains the standards for aircraft registration. Article 20 of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation requires that all signatory countries register aircraft over a certain weight with a national aviation authority. Upon registration, the aircraft receives its unique “registration” which must be displayed prominently on the aircraft.

Annex 7 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation describes the definitions, location, and measurement of nationality and registration marks. The aircraft registration is made up of a prefix selected from the country's call-sign prefix allocated by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), making the registration a quick way of determining the country of origin, and the registration suffix. Depending on the country of registration, this suffix is a numeric or alphanumeric code and consists of one to five digits or characters respectively. The ICAO provides a supplement to Annex 7 which provides an updated list of approved Nationality and Common Marks used by various countries.

This Boeing 777-200 displays the registration “4X-ECC”. The “4X-” prefix denotes that it is registered in Israel.

Boeing 777-200 (4X-ECC)

When painted on the fuselage, the prefix and suffix are separated by a dash … for example 4X-ECC, however when entered in a flight plan, the dash is omitted (for example 4XECC). In the United States, the prefix and suffix are painted without a dash. Private aircraft usually use their registration as their radio call-sign, but most commercial aircraft use the ICAO airline designator or a company call-sign. In some instances, it may be sufficient to simply display the suffix letters, with the country prefix omitted. For example, gliders registered in Australia would omit the VH prefix and simply display the suffix. Obviously this is only suitable where the aircraft does not fly in the airspace of another country. Even if the suffix consists solely of alphabetical characters in a certain country, gliders and ultralights may sometimes use digits instead. For example, in Germany, D-ABCD can be an aircraft while D-1234 is a glider. In Australia, early glider registration suffixes began with the letter &ldwquo;G”, and it is not uncommon to find such gliders only displaying the last two letters of the suffix, as they lacked the range to travel internationally. For example, VH-GIQ would simply be displayed as IQ.

Different countries have different registration schemes: Canadian registrations start with C, British with G, German with D, and so forth. A comprehensive list is tabulated below.

United States of America


An “N-number” is an aircraft registration number used in the United States. All aircraft registered there have a number starting with N. Due to the large numbers of aircraft registered in the United States an alpha-numeric system is used. N-numbers may only consist of 1 to 5 characters and must start with a number other than zero and can not end in more than two letters. In addition, N-numbers may not contain the letters I or O, due to their close similarity with the numbers 1 and 0. Each alphabetic character in the suffix can have one of 24 discrete values, while each numeric digit can be one of 10, except the first, which can take on only nine values. This yields a total of 915,399 possible registration numbers in the name-space, though certain combinations are reserved either for government use or for other special purposes.

Goodyear Blimp N10A

Goodyear Blimp “Spirit of America” (N10A)

The following are the N-Number combinations that could be used:

  • N1 to N9 (Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) internal use only)
  • N1A to N9Z
  • N1AA to N9ZZ
  • N10 to N99 (Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) internal use only)
  • N10A to N99Z
  • N10AA to N99ZZ
  • N100 to N999
  • N100A to N999Z
  • N100AA to N999ZZ
  • N1000 to N9999
  • N1000A to N9999Z
  • N10000 to N99999

An older (pre-1950's) aircraft may have a second letter in its identifier, identifying the category of aircraft. This additional letter is not actually part of the aircraft identification (e.g. NC12345 is the same registration as N12345). Aircraft category letters have not been included on any registration numbers issued since about 1950, but they still appear on antique aircraft for authenticity purposes. The categories included:

  • C = standard
  • L = limited
  • R = restricted
  • X = experimental

Ryan NYP “Spirit of St. Louis” (NX211)

Ryan NYP “Spirit of St. Louis” (NX211)

For example, N-X-211, the Ryan NYP aircraft (shown above) flown by Charles Lindbergh as the “Spirit of St. Louis”, was registered in the experimental category. Examples of NC, NR and NL registrations are also shown below.

Curtiss-Wright Jr. CW-1, NC605EB

Curtiss-Wright Jr. CW-1 (NC605EB)

Gee Bee R-1 “Super Sportster” NR2100

Gee Bee R-1 “Super Sportster” (NR2100)

North American P-51D-30-NT “Mustang - Spam Can” (AF 45-11582, NL5441V)

North American P-51D-30-NT “Mustang - Spam Can” (NL5441V)

International Aircraft Registration Prefixes


Country / RegionRegistration PrefixSuffix Pattern
AfghanistanYAabc
AlbaniaZAabc
Algeria7Tabc
AndorraC3abc
AngolaD2abc
AnguillaVP-Aab
Antigua and BarbudaV2abc
ArgentinaLQabc
ArgentinaLVabc
ArmeniaEK12345
ArubaP4abc
AustraliaVHabc
AustriaOEabc
AustriaOE1234 (gliders only)
Azerbaijan4Kab1 or ab12 or 12345
BahamasC6abc
BahrainA9Cab or abc
BangladeshS2abc
Barbados8Pabc
BelarusEW123ab or 12345
BelgiumOOabc
BelizeV3abc
BeninTYabc
BermudaVP-Bab
BhutanA5abc
BoliviaCP1234
Bosnia and HerzegovinaT9abc
BotswanaA2abc
BrazilPPabc
BrazilPRabc
BrazilPTabc
BrazilPUabc (reserved for ultralights)
British Virgin IslandsVP-Lab
BruneiV8abc or ab1 or 123
BulgariaLZabc
Burkina FasoXTabc
Burundi9Uabc
CambodiaXU123
CameroonTJabc
CanadaCF-abc
CanadaC-Fabc
CanadaC-Gabc
CanadaC-Iabc (ultralight aeroplanes only)
Cape VerdeD4abc
Cayman IslandsVP-Cab
Central African RepublicTLabc
ChadTTabc
ChileCCabc
China, People's RepublicB1234
China, Republic (Taiwan)B12345
Hong Kong, ChinaB-Hab
Hong Kong, ChinaB-Kab
Hong Kong, ChinaB-Lab
Macau, ChinaB-Mab
ColombiaHJ1234a
ColombiaHK1234a
ComorosD6abc
Congo, Republic ofTNabc
Cook IslandsE5abc
Congo, Democratic Republic of9Qabc
Costa RicaTIabc
Croatia9Aabc
CubaCU-T1234
Cyprus, Republic of5Babc
Czech RepublicOKabc, abc12, 1234 or a123
DenmarkOYabc
Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe IslandsOY-Hab (reserved for helicopters)
DenmarkOY-Xab (only gliders)
DenmarkOY-Bab (preferred for hot-air balloons)
DjiboutiJ2abc
DominicaJ7abc
Dominican RepublicHI123ab
EcuadorHCabc
EgyptSUabc
El SalvadorYSabc
Equatorial Guinea3Cabc
EritreaE3abc
EstoniaESabc
EthiopiaETabc
Falkland Islands (Malvinas)VP-Fab
Faroe IslandsOYabc
Fiji IslandsDQabc
FinlandOHabc
FranceFabcd
French West IndiesF-OGab
French GuyanaF-Oabc
GabonTRabc
GambiaC5abc
Georgia4L12345 or abc
GermanyDabcd
Ghana9Gabc
GibraltarVP-Gab
GreeceSXabc
GreenlandOYabc
GrenadaJ3abc
GuatemalaTGabc
Guinea3Xabc
Guinea BissauJ5abc
Guyana8Rabc
HaitiHHabc
HondurasHRabc
HungaryHAabc
IcelandTFabc
IndiaVTabc
IndonesiaPKabc
IranEPabc
IraqYIabc
IrelandEIabc
Isle of ManMabcd
Israel4Xabc
ItalyIabcd
Ivory CoastTUabc
Jamaica6Yabc
JapanJA1234 or 123a or 12ab or a123
JordanJYabc
KazakhstanUN12345
Kenya5Yabc
KiribatiT3abc
Korea, People's Democratic Rep.P123
Korea, Republic ofHL1234
Kuwait9Kabc
KyrgyzstanEX12345 or 123
LaosRDPL12345
LatviaYLabc
LebanonODabc
Lesotho7Pabc
LiberiaA8abc
Libya5Aabc
LithuaniaLYabc
LuxembourgLXabc
MacedoniaZ3abc
Madagascar5Rabc
Malawi7Qabc
Malaysia9Mabc
Maldives8Qabc
MaliTZabc
Malta9Habc
Marshall IslandsV71234
Mauritania5Tabc
Mauritius3Babc
MexicoXAabc
MexicoXBabc
MexicoXCabc and abc12
MicronesiaV6abc
MoldovaERabc or 12345
Monaco3Aabc
MongoliaJU1234
Montenegro4Oabc
MontserratVP-Mab
MoroccoCNabc
MozambiqueC9abc
MyanmarXYabc
MyanmarXZabc
NamibiaV5abc
NauruC2abc
Nepal9Nabc
NetherlandsPHabc
Netherlands AntillesPJabc
New ZealandZKabc
New ZealandZLabc
New ZealandZMabc
NicaraguaYNabc
Niger5Uabc
Nigeria5Nabc
NorwayLNabc
OmanA4Oab
PakistanAPabc
PanamaHP1234abc
Papua New GuineaP2abc
ParaguayZPabc
PeruOB1234
PhilippinesRPC1234
PolandSPabc
PortugalCRabc
PortugalCSabc
QatarA7abc
Réunion IslandF-ODab
RomaniaYRabc
Russian FederationRA12345 or 1234K
Rwanda9XRab
Saint Helena/AscensionVQ-Hab
Saint Kitts and NevisV4abc
Saint LuciaJ6abc
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesJ8abc
Samoa5Wabc
San MarinoT7abc
São Tomé and PríncipeS9abc
Saudi ArabiaHZabc, ab1, ab12 or abc1
Senegal6Vabc
Senegal6Wabc
SerbiaYUabc
SeychellesS7abc
Sierra Leone9Labc
Singapore9Vabc
SlovakiaOMabc
SloveniaS5abc
Solomon IslandsH4abc
Somalia6Oabc
South AfricaZSabc
South AfricaZTabc
South AfricaZUabc
SpainECabc
Sri Lanka4Rabc
SudanSTabc
SurinamPZabc
Swaziland3Dabc
SwedenSEabc
SwitzerlandHBabc
SyriaYKabc
TahitiF-OHab
TajikistanEY12345
Tanzania5Habc
ThailandHSabc
Togo5Vabc
TongaA3abc
Trinidad and Tobago9Yabc
TunisiaTSabc
TurkeyTCabc
TurkmenistanEZa123
Turks and CaicosVQ-Tab
TuvaluT2abc
Uganda5Xabc
UkraineUR12345 or abc
United Arab EmiratesA6abc
United KingdomGabcd
United Nations4Uabc
United States of AmericaN1, 12, 123, 1234, 12345, 1a, 12a, 123a, 1234a, 1ab, 12ab or 123ab
UruguayCXabc
UzbekistanUK12345
VanuatuYJab1 or ab12
VenezuelaYV123a, 1234 or O123, KW1, SATA1 (Official Use)
VietnamVN1234 or a123
Yemen7Oabc
Zambia9Jabc
ZimbabweZabc


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