Australia Today

Queenslanders Will Soon Be Able to Get Emojis on Their Number Plates

But the eggplant is not an option.
Gavin Butler
Melbourne, AU
Number plate with emojis
Image via Shutterstock (edited)

Here’s something nobody asked for: emoji licence plates. When has anyone ever wished they could add a smiling yellow face to an otherwise meaningless jumble of letters and numbers? What possible purpose could that serve? And who would be willing to cough up hundreds of dollars for such a thing? I don't know. But we're getting them anyway.

As of March 1st, drivers in Queensland will be able to include one of five emojis alongside their licence plate numbers—the laughing-crying face, the winking face, the sunglasses face, the heart-eyed face, or the classic smiley face—courtesy of Personalised Plates Queensland. The symbols won’t actually be able to replace the registration numbers, mind you, but will instead serve a purely decorative purpose. And with the eggplant and peach emojis nowhere to be seen, it’s not entirely clear what the point is.


Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) spokeswoman Rebecca Michael reckons it’s a no-brainer. “For quite some time we’ve seen that you can support your favourite team or your favourite town with a symbol on your number plate,” she told 7 News Brisbane. “And using an emoji is no different.”

Except that it is. Favourite teams and towns are one thing, but emojis—especially these select five emojis on offer—are used to convey transient emotions in specific contexts: laughing out loud, adoration, or a cheeky wink. Driving around with a laughing-crying face permanently plastered on your licence plate doesn’t quite translate. What’s more, it’ll set you back anywhere between $160 and $500 to get it done.

At least one person not on board with the idea is Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts, who claims it's little more than a government-driven incentive to “sex up” number plates and make a quick buck. He also questions the practicality of the symbols.

"Clearly the government is trying to sex up number plates, with a view to making more money, and I can understand that," he told the Brisbane Times. "But the purpose of number plates is for the police to be able to identify vehicles. How do you write down the emoji in your number plate after an accident?"

Bill goes on to note that more relevant symbols like a "road rage" emoji or "stuck in M1 traffic" emoji aren’t options, and suggests that the number plates should be more ephemeral to fit the emotional state of the driver.

"There should be changeable emojis, so the face turns from a frown to a smiley depending on the driver's mood and as the traffic gets heavier it becomes angrier," he said. "I'm still a big believer in the turd. If someone is in real trouble, the smiling turd should come up."

Follow Gavin on Twitter or Instagram

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.