From Where in the World is That Aircraft?

Kulula Airlines Boeing 737-800 commercial jet aircraft
Photo right: This commercial Boeing 737-800 aircraft`s registration number is ZS-ZWO. Therefore, it is registered in South-Africa. It is in service at Kulula, one of the low-cost airlines.

We live in a world with an international aviation industry. Our world's airports are filled with aircraft and airlines from around the globe. Did you ever stand on an airport and wonder from which countries all the planes came? If a particular aircraft belongs to an airline, which is a national carrier you have a way to know this from the airline's name. But what if it belongs to one of the many private airlines or is owned privately? Well aircraft's registration numbers or codes make things easier. These registration numbers are painted on the back of aircraft near the tail in the same area where you will usually found the manufacturer's name and model if it is a large commercial jet and therefore this code is sometimes referred to in the aviation industry as a tail number. You might say that you have seen these tail numbers on aircraft. The first few letters or numbers of a tail number are a prefix or code of the country in which it is registered. The tail registration country code for the United States of America (USA) is just N. Therefore, it is common practice in that country to refer to registration numbers on aircraft as n-numbers. Tail or n-numbers form part of an interesting international aircraft registration system.

Aircraft registration numbers which contain country prefixes are usually painted very large on aircraft and sometimes you will find the country in which it is registered flag in-front of it, but it isn't always the case. I've tried my best to list all these prefixes. Because of the fact that all such indexes are listed by the countries' names in alphabetical order, I have listed it with the countries' prefixes in alphabetical order, with numerical numbers before alphabetical letters.

Aircraft Tail Numbers Which Begin With Numerical Numbers:

Registration Prefixes 3-6

  • 3B - Mauritius
  • 3D - Swaziland

  • 4K - Azerbaijan
  • 4R - Sri Lanka
  • 4X - Israel

  • 5A - Libya
  • 5B - Cyprus
  • 5H - Tanzania
  • 5N - Nigeria
  • 5R - Madagascar
  • 5T - Mauritania
  • 5U - Niger
  • 5X - Uganda
  • 5Y - Kenya

  • 6V - Senegal
  • 6y - Jamaica
  • Registration Prefixes 7-9

  • 7O - Yemen
  • 7Q - Malawi
  • 7T - Algeria

  • 8P - Barbados
  • 8Q - Maldives
  • 8R - Guyana

  • 9A - Croatia
  • 9G - Ghana
  • 9H - Malta
  • 9J - Zambia
  • 9K - Kuwait
  • 9L - Sierra Leone
  • 9M - Malaysia
  • 9N - Nepal
  • 9Q - DRC
  • 9V - Singapore
  • 9Y - Trinidad & Tobago
  • Aircraft Registrations: Prefixes Which Starts With Alphabetical Letters:

    Tail Numbers A-E

  • A2 - Botswana
  • A40 - Oman
  • A5 - Bhutan
  • A6 - UAE
  • A7 - Qatar
  • AP - Pakistan

  • B - China/Taiwan

  • C - Canada
  • C2 - Nauru
  • C5 - Gambia
  • C6 - Bahamas
  • C9 - Mozambique
  • CC - Chile
  • CN - Morocco
  • CP - Bolivia
  • CR-M - Macao
  • CS - Portugal
  • CU - Cuba
  • CX - Uruguay

  • D - Germany
  • D2 - Angola
  • D4 - Cape Verde
  • D6 - Comoros
  • DM - ex East Germany
  • DQ - Fiji

  • EC - Spain
  • EI - Ireland
  • EK - Armenia
  • EL - Liberia
  • EP - Iran
  • ER - Moldova
  • ES - Estonia
  • ET - Ethiopia
  • EZ - Turkmenistan
  • Tail Numbers F-N

  • F - France
  • F-O - French West Indies

  • G - United Kingdom

  • H4 - Solomon Islands
  • HA - Hungary
  • HB - Switzerland
  • HC - Ecuador
  • HI - Dominican Republic
  • HK - Colombia
  • HL - South Korea
  • HP - Panama
  • HR - Honduras
  • HS - Thailand
  • HZ - Saudi Arabia
  • I - Italy

  • J2 - Djibouti
  • JA - Japan
  • JY - Jordan

  • LN - Norway
  • LV - Argentina
  • LX - Luxembourg
  • LY - Lithuania
  • LZ - Bulgaria

  • M - Isle of Man

  • N - USA
  • Tail Numbers O-T

  • OB - Peru
  • OD - Lebanon
  • OE - Austria
  • OH - Finland
  • OK - Czech Republic
  • OM - Slovakia
  • OO - Belgium
  • OY - Denmark

  • P2 - Papua New Guineu
  • P4 - Aruba
  • PH - Netherlands
  • PJ - Netherlands Antilles
  • PK - Indonesia
  • PP - Brazil
  • PZ - Suriname

  • RA - CIS*
  • RDPL - Laos
  • RP - Philippines
  • S2 - Bangladesh
  • S5 - Slovenia
  • S7 - Seychelles
  • S9 - Sao Tome
  • SE - Sweden
  • SP - Poland
  • ST - Sudan
  • SU - Egypt
  • SX - Greece

  • TC - Turkey
  • TF - Iceland
  • TG - Guatemala
  • TI - Costa Rica
  • TJ - Cameroon
  • TN - Congo
  • TR - Gabon
  • TS - Tunisia
  • TU - Ivory Coast
  • *Include aircraft registered in Russia and some other countries which formed part of the USSR

    Tail Numbers U-Z

  • UK - Uzbekistan
  • UR - Ukraine

  • V2 - Antigua
  • V3 - Belize
  • V5 - Namibia
  • V7 - Marshall Islands
  • V8 - Brunei
  • VH - Australia
  • VN - Vietnam
  • VP-F - Falklands
  • VR-B / VP-B / VQ-B - Bermuda
  • VR-C - Cayman Islands
  • VR-H - Hong Kong (Former reg.)
  • VT - India

  • XA - Mexico
  • YA - Afghanistan
  • YI - Iraq
  • YJ - Vanuatu
  • YK - Syria
  • YL - Latvia
  • YR - Romania
  • YS - El Salvador
  • YU - Serbia
  • YV - Venezuela

  • Z - Zimbabwe
  • Z3 - Macedonia
  • ZA - Albania
  • ZK - New Zealand
  • ZP - Paraguay
  • ZS - South Africa
  • Aircraft Registration by Country:

    Boeing 747-300 jet aircraft at Johannesburg airport
    Photo right: This Boeing 747-300 jet aircraft's registration number is D2-TEB, therefore it is registered in Angola. The photo was taken at Johannesburg International Airport, South Africa.
    You might say that you have some money in your piggy-bank and that you want to buy an aircraft. You live in county-X and want to know with which prefix your registration number is going to start with? Therefore, I have also listed this index the other way around.

    Prefixes in aircraft registration numbers listed by country in alphabetical order:

  • Afghanistan - YA
  • Albania - ZA
  • Algeria - 7T
  • Angola - D2
  • Antigua - V2
  • Argentina - LV
  • Armenia - EK
  • Aruba - P4
  • Australia - VH
  • Austria - OE
  • Azerbaijan - 4K

  • Bahamas - C6
  • Bangladesh 2S
  • Barbados - 8P
  • Belgium - OO
  • Belize - V3
  • Bermuda - VR-B / VP-B / VQ-B
  • Bhutan - A5
  • Bolivia - CP
  • Botswana - A2
  • Brazil - PP
  • Brunei - V8
  • Bulgaria - LZ

  • Cameroon - TJ
  • Canada - C
  • Cape Verde - D4
  • Cayman Islands - VR-C
  • Chile - CC
  • China/Taiwan - B
  • CIS - RA
  • Colombia - HK
  • Comoros - D6
  • Congo - TN
  • Costa Rica - TI
  • Croatia - 9A
  • Cuba - CU
  • Cyprus - 5B
  • Czech Republic - OK

  • Denmark - OY
  • Djibouti - J2
  • Dominican Republic - HI
  • DRC - 9Q

  • Ecuador - HC
  • Egypt - SU
  • El Salvador - YS
  • Estonia - ES
  • Ethiopia - ET
  • ex East Germany - DM

  • Falklands - VP-F
  • Fiji - DQ
  • Finland - OH
  • France - F
  • French West Indies - F-O

  • Gabon - TR
  • Gambia - C5
  • Germany - D
  • Ghana - 9G
  • Greece - SX
  • Guatemala - TG
  • Guyana - 8R

  • Honduras - HR
  • Hong Kong - VR-H
  • Hungary - HA

  • Iceland - TF
  • India - VT
  • Indonesia - PK
  • Iran - EP
  • Iraq - YI
  • Ireland - EI
  • Isle of Man - M
  • Israel - 4X
  • Italy - I
  • Ivory Coast - TU

  • Jamaica - 6Y
  • Japan - JA
  • Jordan - JY

  • Kenya - 5Y
  • Kuwait - 9K

  • Laos - RDPL
  • Latvia - YL
  • Lebanon - OD
  • Liberia - EL
  • Libya - 5A
  • Lithuania - LY
  • Luxembourg - LX

  • Macao - CR-M
  • Macedonia - Z3
  • Madagascar - 5R
  • Malawi - 7Q
  • Malaysia - 9M
  • Maldives - 8Q
  • Malta - 9H
  • Marshall Islands - V7
  • Mauritania - 5T
  • Mauritius - 3B
  • Mexico - XA
  • Mozambique - C9
  • Moldova - ER
  • Morocco - CN

  • Namibia - V5
  • Nauru - C2
  • Nepal - 9N
  • Netherlands - PH
  • Netherlands Antilles - PJ
  • New Zealand - ZK
  • Niger - 5U
  • Nigeria - 5N
  • Norway - LN

  • Oman - A4

  • Pakistan - AP
  • Panama - HP
  • Papua New Guinea - P2
  • Paraguay - ZP
  • Peru - OB
  • Philippines - RP
  • Poland - SP
  • Portugal - CS

  • Qatar - A7

  • Romania - YR
  • Russia - see CIS

  • Sao Tome - S9
  • Saudi Arabia - HZ
  • Senegal - 6V
  • Serbia - YU
  • Seychelles - S7
  • Sierra Leone - 9L
  • Singapore - 9V
  • Slovakia - OM
  • Slovenia - S5
  • Solomon Islands - H4
  • South Africa - ZS
  • South Korea - HL
  • Spain - EC
  • Sri Lanka - 4R
  • Sudan - ST
  • Suriname - PZ
  • Swaziland - 3D
  • Sweden - SE
  • Switzerland - HB
  • Syria - YK

  • Taiwan - B
  • Tanzania - 5H
  • Thailand - HS
  • Trinidad and Tobago - 9Y
  • Tunisia - TS
  • Turkey - TC
  • Turkmenistan - EZ

  • UAE - A6
  • Uganda - 5X
  • Ukraine - UR
  • United Kingdom - G
  • Uruguay - CX
  • USA - N
  • Uzbekistan - UK

  • Vanuatu - YJ
  • Venezuela - YV
  • Vietnam - VN

  • Yemen - 7O

  • Zambia - 9J
  • Zimbabwe - Z

  • Registration Numbers on Older Planes and Helicopters:

    Emirates Airlines Boeing 777-300ER on Cape Town International Airport
    Photo right: This Emirates Boeing 777-300ER’s tail number is A6-ECS. Therefore, this aircraft is registered in the UAE. The photo was taken on Cape Town International Airport.

    So there you have it! I bet you will now look differently at aircraft and their registration or aviation tail numbers which contain a country prefix in them. You must just remember that not all of these registration prefixes are still in use. The world had change a lot politically around 1991 with the downfall of communism. New countries were born while others were no more. Aircraft which were build before this time and which are still in service in the areas of the world that had gone though these changes received differed registration numbers which now begin with the prefix of the new country. Russia doesn't have its own country prefix but shares one with the whole CIS which consist out of most of the area of the formal USSR. I first thought that the "RA" country prefix was used in the past by the USSR's aircraft registration registry, but I had found out that the “RA” prefix was a new one that was awarded after the fall of the USSR. The prefix "DM" was used by East Germany, this is also no longer used on aircraft?

    NOTE! One reader had told me that the registration prefix for Laos was XW. I am busy to investigate this claim, and will update this website about aircraft registration codes if it seems to be true.

    24 comments:

    Craig said...

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Air-America--Bell-205-helicopter-at-Hmong-FSB.jpg for a helicopter with a XW registration. That picture is why I did a search for XW and ended up here!

    Anonymous said...

    XW appears to be the pre 1977 registration for Laos. It is now RDPL. http://www.thai-aviation.net/files/XW_Register.pdf

    TTRN said...

    Guinea-Bissau J5

    TTRN said...

    Guinea-Bissau J5 Did not see on your list....

    Haim Kutiel said...

    I spotted a Russian Airbus 320-214 on its way to land at Lisbon airport. Its registration code is VQ-BDQ, but I could not find the prefix VQ in your list. Does it bolong to Russia?

    Haim

    Anonymous said...

    Look at the Pilotfriend website, where you will see more registration prefixes.

    Anonymous said...

    VQ-B = is or was Bermuda

    Arthur said...

    Here in Brazil we use PP-XXX (XXX means three letters), PR-XXX and PT-XXX for civil aircraft. Also, PS-XXX is used for experimental aircraft

    Arthur said...

    Here in Brazil, PP-XXX, PR-XXX and PT-XXX (XXX means three letters) for civil and PS-XXX for experimental aircraft (: . Formerly, PP was just for civil and PT for private/air taxi ones...

    choppydog said...

    Just seen an ad in Yhe Telegraph showing a plane with tail reg. "zj". Any suggestions please?

    Anonymous said...

    Please advise zu is belong to which country ?

    Anonymous said...

    OH-FFF. Or OH- Foxtrot Foxtrot Foxtrot. OH is Finland. Found OH-FFF to be a Dassault Falcon 7X

    AZPILOT said...

    AZPILOT

    I see you have XA for Mexico this is true but they also have XB for there "commercial aircraft only" just a thought

    Anonymous said...

    what country once used civil aircraft code "WI"? I've not found it yet, but a scale model airplane I've built of the Dehavilland Tiger Moth has that code, so I'd like to see what it means.

    Kaz said...

    Kazakhstan is UP

    Anonymous said...

    I saw E-55P landing at BUF Any thoughts

    Unknown said...

    Need help, any other interesting website about aviation...

    Anonymous said...

    Italy's new prefix is EI

    John Gillingham said...

    List is missing Guernsey, registration 2-AAAA etc., since 2013

    JM Davis said...

    I am currently working on MD-87 Cayman Reg. No. VP-CNI. You show VR-C for Caymans, I think it should be VP-Cxx (or in addition to VR-Cxx).

    Jim Davis, FAA DER

    Sally Sutton said...

    Hi. I think the Cook Islands aircraft have the prefix E5. All the Air Rarotonga aircraft I saw recently had that prefix to their registrations

    Anonymous said...

    Brazil currently uses PP, PT, PR and PU for ultralight aircraft. There is also PS but it hasn't been used yet. Maybe in the future.

    Anonymous said...

    Vielen Dank! Wollt ich nur sagen.

    John Burdett said...

    Samoa ?