Some banned combinations like SEX, LSD and XXX are understandable, while other less obviously offensive choices like the Swedish words for house (HUS), no (NEJ), and seven (SJU) are also prohibited.
In total, 148 combinations have been deemed unacceptable for printing on Swedish licence plates by the Swedish Road Administration (Vägverket), according to the magazine Språket (‘Language’).
In some cases, Vägverket appears to want to minimize an outbreak of road rage in its prohibition against ARG (‘angry’), HAT (‘hate’), and OND (‘evil’).
Other off-limits include the scatological references such as BAJ (‘poop’) and TOA (‘toilet’), as well as the sexually-suggestive SUG (‘suck’) and KUK (‘cock’).
Decisions designed to keep Sweden’s roads free from offending three-letter words are taken by a handful of Vägverket officials working in the agency’s vehicle registration office in Örebro in central Sweden.
“We sit down in a room and think about it, then we remove the combinations which we judge to be offensive. People have very creative imaginations. But we have to be restrictive, otherwise we might run out of letter combinations for licence plates,” said Vägverket spokesperson Mikael Andersson to Språk magazine.
The curse word FAN is also banned, and for good measure so is an approximation of its English-language equivalent – FUC.
FUK, however, is allowed.
Vägverket has also decided that the back of a car is no place for any of a number of political abbreviations such as PLO, PKK, and ETA. The initials for the Vietnamese guerrilla movement FNL are also currently prohibited, although Vägverket is considering lifting the ban in the near future.
MAO however is, and remains, on the list of banned combinations, as does USA, WAR, XXL, PUB, and UFO.