M. Gallina - C. Bellini
License plates of the Vatican City State

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Titolo License plates of the Vatican City State
Autore M. Gallina - C. Bellini
Genere Storia      
Pubblicata il 14/02/2012
Visite 8748
Editore Liberodiscrivere® edizioni
Collana Spazioautori  N.  127
ISBN 9788873883388
Pagine 172

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The Vatican City State was founded following the signing of the Lateran Treaty between Cardinal Pietro Gasparri on behalf of the Holy See and Benito Mussolini on behalf of the Italian state on 11th February 1929. This put an end to the famous question between the state and the church, a question which had emerged ten years earlier when Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando and Monsignor Bonaventura Cerretti had tried to find a compromise. In addition to the Treaty itself, the document also included four annexed Sections and the Concordat. The agreement was ratified on 7th June 1929 and on the same day Pontiff Pius XI issued law N. I of the new state which was called the Fundamental Law. The Treaty vaguely dealt with the question of the motor vehicles in the Vatican and according to art. 6 ‘agreements should be subsequently reached between the Holy See and Italy concerning the circulation, on and over the Italian territory, of land vehicles and aircraft belonging to the Vatican City.’

These agreements led to the “Convention for the regulation of the movement of motor vehicles in the Vatican City State and the Italian Kingdom” which was signed in the Vatican on 28th November 1929 by Governor Camillo Serafini and the Ambassador of His Majesty, Cesare Maria De Vecchi di Val Cismon. This convention provided for three mutual elements: the recognition of the validity of both driving licences and technical certificates of the vehicles; the free movement of the citizens of the two states and the exemption from the road tax. However, the first element remained unfulfilled because the Vatican had not an authority corresponding to the Italian circoli di ispezione ferroviari, that is departments for the inspection of railways, which usually issued those documents. This means that the Vatican vehicles were using the Italian provisional plates, except when the requirements for the registration with CD letters could be applied. For instance, this is the case of the vehicles registered in the Pontiff’s name such as Bianchi 15 with the number plate CD 404 which was given to Pius XI in 1922. Provisional plates were defined on 2nd December 1928 by an RD (Regio Decreto[1]); they were black on a white background with a serial number after the letter I and another capital letter which indicated the local district. In this case P stands for Rome so, for instance 123 IP.

Diplomatic plates were defined on 29th July 1909 by an RD; they were black on a white background and had the letters CD after a serial number. Moreover, some photographs of everyday life in the Vatican show some vehicles, usually vans, using an Italian triangular provisional plate, according to the provisions of RDL[2] of 13th March 1927. The Pontifical Law N. III, titled “Law on the citizenship and residence”, was issued on 7th June 1929 and art. 26 created the Vatican motor vehicles Register. The Register was planned on the basis of the Italian Register created in 1927. As a consequence, the Register had to be filled in according to the dispositions included in the Law n. 436 issued on 15th March 1927 (“Regulation for the sale and purchase vehicles and the creation of the public register of automobiles within the headquarters of the Automobile Club of Italy - A.C.I.”). In particular, art. 12 stated that every vehicle should match with a separate sheet containing these instructions: number plate, vehicle’s features, owner’s particulars and transfers of ownership. More than six months later, on 31st January 1930, Governor Camillo Serafini issued the “Regulation for the circulation of motor vehicles”, that is the Pontifical Law N. XII. This marked the origins of the SCV plates (Stato Città del Vaticano, Vatican City State).


[1] RD (Regio Decreto) is a word which does not have a perfect correspondence in the English law. It refers to a type of law issued when Italy was a kingdom.

[2] RDL (Regio Decreto Legge) was a law adopted by the ministries and proclaimed by the King of Italy during the Italian Kingdom.