A Complete Guide to Understanding Louis Vuitton Date Codes

How to Read Louis Vuitton Date Codes


Louis Vuitton, a brand that has become a global symbol of luxury and elegance, has been crafting exquisite leather goods and accessories for over 160 years. While the iconic LV monogram is instantly recognizable, there’s another crucial element that often goes unnoticed—the Louis Vuitton date code. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify these codes, offering a deep dive into what they are, how they have evolved, and most importantly, how to read them.

What Are Louis Vuitton Date Codes?

A Louis Vuitton date code is a series of characters—letters and numbers—that are either stamped directly onto the bag’s interior lining or imprinted on a leather tag inside the bag. Contrary to popular belief, these are not serial numbers. Rather, they serve as a manufacturing code that provides valuable information about where and when the item was made.

The Historical Evolution of Date Codes

  • Pre-1980s: Louis Vuitton items crafted before the 1980s did not have date codes. Instead, certain symbols or embossed markings were occasionally used to indicate the manufacturing period.

  • Early 1980s: The brand introduced a simple numeric system, usually three or four digits. The first two numbers represented the year, and the last one or two indicated the month. For instance, “835” would mean the item was made in May 1983.

  • Late 1980s to 1990s: The system evolved to include alphabetic characters representing the factory of origin, followed by numeric characters indicating the manufacturing month and year.

  • 2000 to 2006: A standardized format was adopted, featuring two letters followed by four numbers. The letters signified the factory location, and the numbers indicated the week and year of production.

  • 2007 to March 2021: The format was slightly altered, with the first and third numbers now representing the week of the year, and the second and fourth numbers indicating the year.

  • Post-March 2021: Louis Vuitton began incorporating RFID chips into their products, signaling the end of traditional date codes.

The Importance of Date Codes

Date codes are essential for several reasons:

  1. Authenticity: While not foolproof, a correct date code can be a strong indicator of an item’s authenticity.

  2. Resale Value: Knowing the production date can significantly impact the resale value of the item.

  3. Repair Services: Louis Vuitton often requires the date code for any repairs to ensure the item is a genuine product.

How to Read Louis Vuitton Date Codes: A Detailed Look

Reading a Louis Vuitton date code is akin to deciphering a secret language, and understanding it can greatly enhance your appreciation of the item. The code is usually a combination of letters and numbers. The letters typically represent the factory or country where the item was manufactured. For example, “MI” stands for France, “SD” for the USA, and “CA” for Spain. The numbers, on the other hand, reveal the production date in various formats depending on the era of the date code. For instance, in the format “MI1020,” “10” would represent the 10th week of the year, and “20” would indicate the year 2020. This level of detail allows you to trace the item’s journey from its place of origin to the time it was made, offering a fascinating glimpse into its history.

Manufacturing Country and Corresponding Codes
Country of OriginCountry Codes
FranceA0, A1, A2, AA, AAS (Special Order), AH, AN, AR, AS, BA, BJ, BU, DK (For Relined Items), DU, DR, DT, CO, CT, CX, ET, FL (Also in the U.S.), LW, MB, MI, NO, RA, RI, SD (Also in the U.S.), SA (Also in Italy), SF, SL, SN, SP, SR, TJ, TH, TN, TR, TS, VI, VX
ItalyBC, BO, CE, FO, MA, NZ, OB, PL, RC, RE, SA (Also in France), TD
SpainBC, CA, LO, LB, LM, LW, GI, UB
United StatesFC, FH, LA, OS, SD (Also in France), FL (Also in France), TX
GermanyLP, OL
SwitzerlandDI, FA

Where to Find Date Codes

The location of the date code can vary depending on the model and style of the bag:

  • Speedy: Typically found under the internal pocket on a leather tab.

  • Neverfull: Usually located under a large fabric pocket on the right-hand side of the bag’s interior.

  • Alma: Often found on the inside lining, near the bag’s opening.

  • Metis: Located on right-hand side inside zipped pocket on back of the bag.

Common Misconceptions

  1. Uniqueness: Date codes are not unique identifiers. Multiple items can have the same date code if they were produced in the same factory during the same time frame.

  2. Guarantee of Authenticity: A legitimate date code is not an absolute guarantee of authenticity. Counterfeiters have become increasingly sophisticated in mimicking these codes.

The Role of Date Codes in Authentication

While a date code can be a strong indicator of authenticity, it should not be the sole criterion for determining the genuineness of a Louis Vuitton item. Many counterfeit items also feature date codes that can be quite convincing. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider other factors such as the quality of craftsmanship, the texture and color of the materials used, and the overall design and construction of the item.

Date Codes and Louis Vuitton’s Global Factories

Louis Vuitton has factories in various countries, including France, Spain, the USA, and Italy. Each factory has its own set of alphabetic characters that appear in the date codes of items produced there. For example, “DU” is a code for a factory in France, while “CE” is used for items made in Italy. Understanding these factory codes can add another layer of depth to your knowledge of Louis Vuitton products.

The Future of Date Codes

With the introduction of RFID technology, the traditional date code system is gradually being phased out. These RFID chips contain all the information that was previously provided by date codes but offer additional capabilities such as tracking and verification through Louis Vuitton’s official database. This advancement is expected to make the authentication process more secure but also marks the end of an era for the traditional date code system.

Date Codes and the Resale Market

Understanding date codes is particularly crucial in the resale market. A correct and verifiable date code can significantly enhance the value of a pre-owned Louis Vuitton item. It provides potential buyers with the assurance that the item is genuine and allows them to trace its history, thereby making it a more attractive purchase.

The Art of Decoding: A Case Study

To further illustrate the art of reading Louis Vuitton date codes, let’s consider a hypothetical example. Imagine you have a Louis Vuitton Speedy bag with the date code “SD4169.” The “SD” indicates that the bag was made in the USA. The “41” represents the 41st week of the year, and “69” signifies the year 2019. This precise information can be incredibly useful for various purposes, from personal record-keeping to resale.

Date Codes and Vintage Louis Vuitton

For collectors of vintage Louis Vuitton items, date codes are like a treasure map. They can reveal the age of an item, helping to determine its value and collectibility. Vintage items, especially those from before the 1980s when date codes were introduced, are often considered more valuable. In such cases, other methods of authentication and age determination have to be employed.

The Psychology Behind the Codes

The date codes also serve a psychological purpose. Owning a luxury item is not just about the physical product but also about the experience and assurance of quality. The date code serves as a subtle reminder of the craftsmanship and detailed production process behind each Louis Vuitton item, enhancing the owner’s overall experience and satisfaction.

Date Codes and Repairs

If you ever need to get your Louis Vuitton item repaired, the date code will likely be one of the first things the artisans check. It helps them verify the authenticity of the item and provides insights into the materials and techniques used in its production, ensuring that any repairs are in line with the original craftsmanship.

The Limitations of Date Codes

While date codes are a valuable tool, they have their limitations. For instance, they can become illegible over time due to wear and tear, making it challenging to read them accurately. Additionally, the presence of a date code is not a 100% guarantee of authenticity, as counterfeiters have become increasingly adept at replicating these codes.

The Transition to RFID Technology

As Louis Vuitton moves towards using RFID chips, it’s essential to understand what this means for the future of date codes. RFID chips offer enhanced security features, making it easier to authenticate items. However, they also signal the end of an era for traditional date codes, which have their own charm and historical significance.

Tips for Verifying Date Codes

  1. Use a Magnifying Glass: Sometimes, the codes are stamped in areas that are hard to see. A magnifying glass can be helpful.

  2. Check the Font: Louis Vuitton uses a specific font for their date codes. Any deviation is a red flag.

  3. Consult Experts: When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to consult experts or use authentication services.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can a Louis Vuitton bag have the same date code as another?

    • Yes, date codes are not unique identifiers.
  • Do all Louis Vuitton products have date codes?

    • Most do, but some small leather goods and vintage items may not have one.
  • Can a bag with a date code still be fake?

    • Yes, counterfeiters often replicate date codes.


Louis Vuitton date codes are a small but significant aspect of the brand’s intricate world. They offer a glimpse into the item’s history and origin, adding an extra layer of depth to the ownership experience. As we move into an era of digital authentication, the traditional date code system may become obsolete, but its historical and emotional value will remain. Understanding how to read these codes is not just a skill but an art form that enhances your appreciation of the brand and its storied legacy.

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