Swedish car owners looking to register a private number plate must fulfil a series of criteria. Many try to fool the authorities with word combinations playing on sex and other cryptic offensive messages.
According to Mikael Andersson at the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen), the public authority responsible for registration numbers, there are three criteria that need to be met to gain approval for a private registration:
"Firstly it can't be similar to regular registration numbers, secondly if it is a registered trademark then permission needs to be granted and proved, and thirdly it must not be offensive," Mikael Andersson told The Local.
The third category is the one that is the most difficult to police and each application is judged on a case by case basis.
"Everything changes in society and this is the same for words and phrases that could be considered offensive. We keep ourselves updated, and pool our resources and knowledge in order to keep ahead," Andersson said while conceding that the system is not foolproof.
Many of the offensive plates are in English and other languages which further complicate the authority's work and inevitably leads to mistakes.
"Cases are brought to our attention from time to time of combinations that shouldn't have been allowed."
"Off hand I can think of a case when approval was given for ETTHORA ('AWHORE'). But once the decision is taken it can not be recalled," he said.
The registration of a private number plate in Sweden costs 6,000 kronor ($756) and remains valid for ten years. 600 kronor is deducted as an administration fee by the transport authority and the remainder is placed in a fund to support initiatives which encourage road and traffic safety.
The road safety fund is managed by the National Road Administration (Vägverket) and grants are dispersed twice annually.