Why cover your number plate

can anyone tell me why it seems customary in France to hide the number plate when putting one’s car up for sale ?

Some folks also feel it necessary to do it UK too. I think it’s all to do with car cloning i.e. the unscrupulous in society copying a number plate to put on a similar car, to avoid e.g. speeding fines, other car related charges…


Pretty sure address can be found relatively easily from plate too.

There is a school of thought that obscuring your number plate in adverts will prevent someone copying it & putting it on a similar car.
This can happen, but as your car has to have the number showing while it is out in public it would be simple to note one down.
My Citroen Berlingo is a fairly common vehicle & a recent visit to my local town revealed at least 2 others. I can note the number & the VIN (which is on the CT sticker in the windscreen) so there we are, one cloned car.
Trawling through car adverts to do the same thing seems to be a bit time consuming!
Covering your plates just makes me wonder what you are hiding & why.
I took the number of a random car that has just driven past my house & had a quick look on a car parts site. I have some details now - CITROËN C5 Aircross(C84) 1.5 BlueHDi 16V EAT8 S&S 130 cv Boîte auto

Code moteur :DV5RC

Code de boîte :ATN8

1ère immat. :23/06/2020


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Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. :thinking::wink:


I agree with @anon90504988, number plates are already in the public domain, I don’t think we would get far if we tried to alter that on the road. :roll_eyes:

I seem to recall an article in a car magazine… last year or the year before (time flies).
It explained that hiding the number plate when sharing photos (especially if advertising) was to avoid the possibility of your car photo/identity being used in fraudulent carsales. Seems car frauds are getting more and more.

Thus reducing opportunities for the bad-guys to profit, in any way possible, seems a reasonable idea.

Not sure how that would work, Stella.
Most mobile phones have cameras so it would not be difficult to take a photo of a random car at any time.
A photo with a blanked out number would make more sense for use in a fraudulent advert.

I know what you mean… I’m trying to recall in which of OH’s mags I read about it.
It was definitely about fraudulent adverts using “your” car…

Let’s face it… if the car looks good and the spec checks out… who wouldn’t jump at the chance to send a hefty deposit… aaaargh. :roll_eyes:

Number plate cloning is quite a common practice here in France,especially in Paris.

To stop cloning. Crooks steal an identical car and put the copied number on that then use it for criminal purposes e.g. drug running!

Cloning & just putting someone else’s number on your car are really two different things.
To properly clone a car you would need to change the VIN as well & get duplicate documents to match.
Different plates would mean that speeding tickets etc would be sent to the genuine car owner. Just a matter of finding a similar car in a car park & copying the number.

I can’t find the car magazine where I read it, but it was certainly mentioned by AutoPlus last October.

(however, our Paris club had advised all its members to hide their numbers, quite some years ago, and that’s probably more what made it stick in my mind… although their reasoning is lost in the mists of time…)

I suspect that “hiding the numbers” is possibly like “don’t drink from the hot water tap”… had good reasons initially… but might no longer apply… who knows :rofl:

So how can you guard against that Mark? I pay strict attention whenever I pass a camera to see if I have been flashed (I used to tow a caravan and regularly got flashed by cameras that thought I was a lorry but the computers sorted it out later and I never recieved a ticket) and make sure to keep the dashcam footage to prove my location and speed if necessary, but if I don’t know ‘my’ number plate has been flashed what can be done?

You can’t always prove where you are on a given day.

You can’t. That is why covering your number in photos seems to me to be pointless - when you go out with your car your number plate has to be there for all to see so if someone chooses to copy your number, either because they are following you or see you parked in a public place then it is job done.
An advert photo with a covered plate would be one less source but does not really offer much security in reality.

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In the UK though for a long time now you can’t get a number plate unless you produce the V5C. Not sure if also the case in France

As with everything… where there’s a will, there’s a way… although it might not be the public highway… more of a muddy, potholed track :rofl:

and those who take that route find themselves caught by the Gendarmes from time to time… usually in connection to another illegal activity.

To prevent the MoT history being checked and deterring a potential customer?

Yes, we decided not to buy a vehicle after checking its MOT history. The history didn’t tally with the description of “well maintained”.