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Car Plate Number for Sarawak, Malaysia

Car plate numbers play a pivotal role in vehicle identification and registration in Malaysia. Each state and territory in the country has its unique car plate number format, making it easier to identify the origin of vehicles.

In this article, we will focus on Sarawak, the largest state in Malaysia, known for its diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and unique flora and fauna. We will explore the car plate number format for Sarawak, highlight major cities in the state, and provide insights into the process of obtaining a car plate number in Sarawak.

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Car Plate Number Format for Sarawak

All registration plates of Sarawak for private and commercial motorised vehicles with the exceptions of those used by taxis, vehicle dealers and diplomats follow a QDx #### x algorithm.

  • Q – The constant prefix for all Sarawakian number plates.
  • D – The division (area) prefix. (e.g. : A = Kuching, M = Miri)
  • x – The alphabetical sequences. (e.g. : A, B, C … X and Y)
  • # – The number sequence. (e.g. : 1, 2, 3 … 9998, 9999)

In Sarawak, car plate numbers follow a specific algorithm that excludes the use of letters I, O, and Z, as well as leading zeroes, similar to Peninsular Malaysian number plates. The majority of Sarawak’s divisions utilize the constant Q prefix, followed by the division prefix and the number sequence. For instance, QK 1 was issued in 1991 for Kuching Division.

As the number sequence progressed and QKY 9999 was reached in 2004, an alphabetical sequence was added to the right of the division prefix, resulting in plates like QAA 1. Subsequently, when QAY 9999 was achieved in late 2011, a second alphabetical sequence was incorporated as a suffix, creating plates like QAA 1 A. On 18 June 2020, QAA 9999 Y marked the end of the second alphabetical sequence, and a reset of the second sequence led to plates like QAB 1 A.

Over the years, several other divisions in Sarawak have also exhausted their respective QDx #### formats. To address this, Sibu and Mukah Divisions started issuing QS #### x plates after reaching QSY 9999 in July 2013, while Miri Division adopted the QM #### x format from 20 August 2015 after reaching QMY 9999. The next division to exhaust the QDx #### format is Bintulu Division, which is currently being issued QTY #### plates.

In July 2013, the Deputy Minister of Transport introduced the use of the letter V for Kuala Lumpur plates. Considering this change, there is a possibility that Kuching, Sibu, Miri, and Bintulu divisions’ current algorithm for number plates may be supplemented by introducing previously-unused letters. This could ensure that suffix-less registrations become the norm, maintaining a systematic approach to vehicle identification in Sarawak.

History of Sarawakian Registration Numbers

Pre-1991

Before the formation of Malaysia in 1963, Sarawak’s vehicle number plates were initially distinguished by NDx prefixes, where “N” represented Number, “D” denoted Division, and “x” stood for Alphabet. These prefixes identified the five Administrative Divisions in Sarawak at the time. The number sequence ranged from 1 to 9999, creating formats like 1Dx #### for the 1st Division, which is now known as the Kuching Division.

During the 1970s, Sarikei Division and Kapit Division were established by splitting from the 3rd Division, becoming the 6th and 7th Divisions, respectively. As a result, they were assigned the 6D and 7D prefixes, distinguishing them from the existing divisions. By the 1980s, the original 1D and 5D prefixes had gradually been exhausted over time and were eventually replaced by single-lettered prefixes, similar to those used in Peninsular Malaysia. However, the 6D and 7D prefixes continued to be utilized until 1991.

Post-1991

In 1991, a new car plate number format was introduced, altering the placement of the suffix “Q” in all Sarawakian number plates. The new format began with the prefix “Q,” followed by the division prefix and the number sequence. For instance, the first number plate under this format was QK 1, and it was sequentially extended to QKY 9999.

During this transition, the SG prefix, previously used for Sarawakian government vehicles, had been fully exhausted. To accommodate further plates, an “x” was added in front of the “Q” suffix, creating a new format that read SG #### xQ. Additionally, at the time of implementing the QK prefix, the KT #### Q series had already been issued halfway. Consequently, the QA prefix replaced the QK prefix for registration plates in the Kuching Division, which had the highest number of registered vehicles in Sarawak.

The new format with the Q prefix streamlined the car plate numbering system in Sarawak, ensuring an efficient and systematic approach to vehicle identification.

Overall, the evolution of Sarawak’s vehicle number plates showcases the continuous efforts to adapt and enhance the registration process, catering to the region’s expanding transportation needs while preserving its unique identity within the Malaysian vehicle registration system.

Restriction of the Usage of Q or S Suffix

A noteworthy aspect of the KV series, current Sarawakian plate format, and present Sabahan plate format is the limitation on using Q or S as the suffix. This limitation is justified by potential conflicts with specific older East Malaysian number plates that previously ended with Q or S. For instance, Sarawak utilized the xx #### Q format from 1988 to 1991, and Sabah employed the early post-independence x #### S format. In response, measures have been taken to restrict the use of the old Sabahan format to accommodate the W series’ utilization of disused Sabah x #### S numbers.

To avoid potential overlaps with plate formats from various regions, including Kota Kinabalu (J #### S), Betong/Sri Aman (B #### Q), Kuching (K #### Q), Miri (M #### Q), and Beaufort (B #### S), similar restrictions might be imposed for future extended plates for the Johor, Selangor, Kedah, and Malacca series. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the current Kuching and Sibu plates follow the extended W series format (QAA #### Q, QAA #### S, QS #### Q, and upcoming QS #### S) without facing the aforementioned restrictions.

How to Get a Car Plate Number in Sarawak

To obtain a car plate number in Sarawak, vehicle owners should follow these steps:

  1. Vehicle Registration: The vehicle owner must register the vehicle with the Road Transport Department (JPJ) in Sarawak.
  2. Number Plate Application: After successful registration, the owner can apply for a car plate number. The available combinations depend on the current availability and type of vehicle.
  3. Bidding Process (Optional): In certain cases, when multiple individuals desire the same special or attractive number plate, a bidding process may be conducted. Interested parties can bid for their preferred number, and the highest bidder gets the privilege of using that specific plate.
  4. Approval and Issuance: Once the application is processed and any necessary bidding completed, the JPJ will approve the chosen car plate number and issue it to the vehicle owner.
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Car plate numbers are an essential aspect of vehicle identification and traffic management in Sarawak, Malaysia’s largest state. Understanding the car plate number format in Sarawak, represented as “Qx ####,” is crucial for vehicle owners and traffic authorities.

Sarawak’s diverse landscapes and vibrant cities, such as Kuching, Miri, Sibu, and Bintulu, contribute to the unique driving experience in the state. Obtaining a car plate number in Sarawak involves a straightforward process through the JPJ, with optional bidding for special numbers.

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