efe-epaRio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro began issuing this Tuesday - mostly for new vehicles - the Mercosur license plate, and so becomes the first Brazilian state to adopt the common license of the South American bloc, something the national government had promised to make obligatory back in 2016.

The Mercosur license plate, which has been in use for new Uruguayan vehicles since 2015 and for new Argentine vehicles since 2016, will be issued starting this Tuesday for new cars registered in Rio de Janeiro, as well as for older cars that must have one due to a change of ownership or the owner's change of address.

The new license plate will also be available for all vehicle owners in Rio de Janeiro who wish to use it voluntarily, the head of the regional traffic department, Leonardo Jacob, announced during an event to launch the plate.

Brazil's federal minister for cities, Alexandre Baldy, announced on the same occasion that the nation's other 26 states have already begun the process of standardizing the new license plate and will start offering it at least for new vehicles next Dec. 1.

The minister recalled that the obligatory use of the Mercosur license plate has been postponed on several occasions in Brazil due to the complexities of a country that has some 97 million vehicles, almost 80 percent of the bloc's total number.

The common license plate will allow millions of vehicles to be driven freely across all the states of the bloc.