There are probably as many fake Kiribati plates in collections as genuine used ones.
Much research has now taken place and contact has been made with older islanders who have confirmed that several of these designs were never actually used.
The plates in this photo were almost all made on Kiribati and Tuvalu but many are designs that have never been used on the roads there. There is a chance that one or two of these plates are outright fakes and have never been near the islands. TUC 3CD2 in particular is probably a JD Applegate fake as he made the as yet un photographed 3CD1.
Many of these plates were made by government officers, policemen and consular officials and sent to various collectors over the years from the 1980s until 2013. Whether the islanders were ashamed of their very simple genuine plates and decided to make more elaborate designs or whether they thought that a ‘fancy’ design could be sold for more profit will never be known.
A genuine Kiribati plate was always painted or stencilled onto a scrap of metal or wood and, due to the way they are made and the climate on the islands, they are always in a condition not much better than ‘good’ when genuine ones do get off the islands into collections. The plates in this photo are all mint.
I am sure there will be many more of these made-to-order specials in collections but the photos have not yet been found.
The left hand column is plates of a design that was never used.
The second column is a mixture of one probable JDA fake, some replica diplomatic plates, two ‘government’ plates and some plates with the island crest sticker on. Older island residents say that there were never red government plates. The origin of the plates with the crest is unknown and they may well be outright fakes that have never been near the islands. The design was certainly never used on the islands and BAN as a code probably only existed on a maximum of 5 vehicles in the 1980s.
The third column is plates that are correct but have never been used on Kiribati.
The fourth column is the new 2011 onwards plates that replaced the BTC and TUC coded plates. All came from the same man on Kiribati along with some genuine used ones but these all appear to be made-to-order specials that have never been used.
The fifth and last column is of Tuvalu plates and most came from that island in 1985 and 1986.
Tuvalu gained independence in 1978 but continued to use the FTC code for many years. All these plates are mint and genuine plates as used on the island with a year suffix were extremely rare.
If anyone has any further information about any of these plates, especially the ones that may be outright fakes, please get in touch. Also, if anyone has photos of similar mint plates, please get in touch.