Registration Numbers

Chinese Lucky Numbers

The ancient culture of China attaches great significance to numbers, believing that these have the power to bring good (or bad!) luck.

In 2009, 5 Chinese were sentenced to up to 16 months for hijacking a number plate printing machine in Beijing! As the machine approached the printing of an auspicious plate ending “8888″ the armed men threatened and beat anyone who came near!

The luckiness – or otherwise – of a number is often based on the meaning of the Chinese word that sounds the closest to the number. Some of the most commonly associated number and word combinations are shown below:

  • The number 1 – “yao” – can mean “want” or “has”.
  • The number 4 – “shi” – is usually taken to mean “death”, but can also be seen as “generation”, “world” or “is”.
  • The number 5 – “wu” – is very close to “wo” meaning “me”. Also to “nothing” or “not” in Cantonese.
  • The number 6 – “liu” – means “slippery” or “smooth”.
  • The number 7 – “chi” – sounds like “chu” meaning “go” or “che” meaning “eat”.
  • The number 8 – “ba” – sounds close to “fa” which means “prosper”.

In China the number 54 is a good omen! It means no death or live forever!

A Chinese car owner would be very unlikely to buy private registration plates containing the number 4. The association between the number four and death is considered very inauspicious. Car Registration numbers containing 8 would be the opposite, believed by many Chinese to bring good luck and fortune.

Lucky numbers elsewhere

Of course many other cultures have strong associations between numbers and fortune which affect the choice of car registration number plates.

786 Bism illāh ir-raḥmān ir-raḥīm “In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful”

In the system of Abjad numerals the Arabic letters of the opening phrase of the Koran sum to 786. This makes this a highly regarded number within some parts of the Muslim world, in places even used in place of the Holy text to avoid disrespect. Therefore, a number plate containing this number may have a surprisingly large market.

Whilst some in the UK may consider such beliefs superstitious, we should ask ourselves how we’d feel about taking flight 666 at 13:00 on Friday the 13th!

Indeed we do get customers who want to take their chances and buy personalised number plates with “13″ on them. Other popular numbers are “321″, “123″ and trebles like 777 (or 999 for an Emergency service worker).