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Vietnam Mulls Allowing Personalized License Plate Number, for a Fee

For a fee, and possibly through participation in an online auction, drivers would be able to select their own license plate numbers, rather than have them randomly assigned.

Tuoi Tre reported on Saturday that the Ministry of Public Security submitted a draft of the Law on Road Traffic Order and Safety suggesting that for especially alluring license plate numbers, an online auction could be established to facilitate the highest bid.

Currently, auctioning license plates off is illegal under Vietnamese law, as they are not listed among the items approved for auction in the country’s Property Auction Law.

This is not the first time such measures have been proposed. The idea has been floated numerous times, most recently in 2017, and as far back as 1994. Individual provinces have had license plate auctions to raise funds, but they were promptly shut down.

When suggested in 2017, legislator Nguyen Van Canh said the auctions could bring in as much as VND14 trillion (US$618 million) in the next three years.

The idea seems to be in line with Vietnam's penchant for purchasing special phone numbers. In recent years people have offered staggering amounts of up to US$886,000 for SIM card numbers deemed to have positive feng shui, or consist of lucky numbers such a 6, 9 and 8. Others expressed personal reasons for what would make a number valuable to them, including birth dates or phonetic similarities to important quotes. 

The offered draft also includes new situations when a person can be denied vehicle registration, including if the applicant fails to submit adequate legal documents relating to both the owner and the vehicle; if the vehicle identification number (VIN) is damaged; if the engine number has been damaged; or if the license plate is placed in a hard-to-see spot on the car.