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  • 06 February 2020
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    Number Plate Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Vehicle Registrations

When Do The New Number Plate Come Out

You are maybe not aware that in the UK there is a new number plate release twice per year. This occurs on the 1st March and the 1st September every year. Meaning if you want the most up to date car when you are looking to buy a new car these are the dates you should keep in mind. Keep an eye out on our dealer websites as we always have a promotion happening within these 2 months. Here at Howards Motor Group, we have our very own 2020 Vision event.


Upcoming Number Plate Dates

Keep your eyes open for our March 2020 promotion, you’ll be able to buy the new plate release that is 20 number plate. Once this plate launch is over there will be another one. Let us give you some dates for plate changes for you to look out for.

Age Identifier

New Plate Registration Date

20 Plate

March 2020 to August 2020

70 Plate

September 2020 to February 2021

21 Plate

March 2021 to August 2021

71 Plate

September 2021 to March 2022


The current number plate system you see above was created by the DVLA and is able to carry on in it’s current format until February 2051. This will mean the last number plate age-identifier will be ‘00 Plate’. This will mean the DVLA will have to look at the current number plate system and review how it works, there aren’t currently any plans in the pipeline (from our research).

Article updated for the March 1s 2018 plate change

If you’re looking into getting a new car, then March 2018 is the perfect time to make a purchase with the new 2018 Reg release. With this in mind, we decided to create a guide dedicated to the number plate! 

New Registration Plate

In this guide, you will find everything you need to know including:

● The history behind them.
● Why they are needed.
● What they mean.
● Specific rules and laws.

History of Number Plates

The number plate has been around for many years, longer than there have been automobiles on our roads. The first country to introduce it was France with the passing of the Paris Police Ordinance on August 14th, 1893. Other European countries started to follow suit, with the Netherlands becoming the first country to introduce a nationally registered license plate in 1898, naming it a ‘driving permit’.

Eventually, the UK also adopted the number plate using index marks of one or two letters. These were issued to various licensing authorities in 1903 when most ‘powers that be’ allotted registrations starting at 1. It is believed that the first ever UK registration was DY1 from Hastings, Kent registered on November 23rd, 1903.Three letters/ three number series were subsequently introduced in 1932.

All marks were allocated by the mid-1950s, and annotations issued by certain authorities were reserved with letters following numbers. Some continued to issue ‘forward’ marks (numbers following letters) until the mid-'60s.

Between 1963 and 1965, authorities started to add a suffix to the number plate. Until 1967 the registration year ran from January 1st to December 1st which was then changed to August 1st.

August 1st, 1983 saw the introduction of a ‘prefix’ system using a single letter to show the year of first registration with an 'A' prefix. This method identified the age of the car with the first letter of the registration, which changed every August. The second and third numbers on the plate were random, with two of the last three letters denoting the registration area. The last number was also chosen at random. This classification remained until the current number plate system was launched.

Today’s approach features an ‘age identifier’ in the middle of the plate and has been in force since September 2001.

Why do cars have number plates?

Cars were growing ever more popular in the UK. As demand increased the British government decided to take steps to regulate vehicles on the nation’s roads. Number plates would also be useful in the event of an accident or crime, making it easier for the Government to track down the owner of the vehicle and take appropriate action.

The 1903 Motor Car Act stated that all vehicles on British roads must be owner-registered and display number plates making them easy to identify. This issue wasn't enforced until 1904 when it became a legal requirement for every car holder in the UK. Since the act’s introduction, most numbering systems have been used to identify cars and their owners, with the first system operating from the beginning of 1932.

How does the number plate system work?

The scheme in use today has three main sections. The first two letters represent the ‘local memory tag’ indicating where the vehicle was registered. The third and fourth digits are known as the ‘age identifier’ and change every six months in March and September. The digits in March will always be the same as the last two digits of the current year. For example, a car registered in London from March this year would have the digits LA18. In September, 50 is added to this number, so if the same car was registered in September 2018 the number plate would be LA68.

The final three letters are chosen at random, generated by a computer, but are carefully checked to ensure no offensive results are created! If you want a new car with the latest number plate, you can either wait until March 1st or September 1st, or net a good deal earlier before the new plates are released.

Does the plate change affect personalised number plates?

Depending on the age of your car, there can sometimes be registration restrictions. Before making a decision, consider the following limitations:

● The third and fourth digits on the plate known as the ‘age identifier’ are changed every six months in March and September.
● In March the digits will always be the last two digits of the year.
● In September 50 is always added to the number.
● When the personalised registration has an age identifier, you can only add that number to a current or more recent vehicle.
● For example, if your personalised number plate has the numbers 10 or 60, then the car will have been registered in 2010 or later.

The restrictions also apply to older cars - if you want to design a personalised number plate with a single letter, the old system will need to be checked to see if it's suitable for your car.

How do I get a new number plate?

UK Registration Plates change on September 1st, 2017, making now the ideal time to buy a new car and be the proud owner of a brand-new number plate. If you want to purchase a personalised one be aware of the restrictions listed above.

Every six-monthly release of new plates reveals numerous, fresh variations - consumers can create something unique, whether it’s their name, a reflection of something they love or simply an eye-catching design!

Below are some of our favourite plates for 2018, which show how easy it is to create your own with a variety of different characters. Can you work out what they say?

18plate_1
 

Banned number plates

As expected, with every new release the DVLA has to be careful that inappropriate number plates are not made available to the public. This year the list of banned plates is pretty long, they have banned certain variations for being too obscene… obviously, we can’t include them in here but if you want to have a look (and a laugh) they can be found through a quick Google search.

How to calculate the age of your car

Calculating the age of your car is handy when you come to assess how much insurance you should be paying. When the government introduced the current car registration system in 2001 with the 51 plate, many people became confused and didn’t understand the move from the old format; especially when the next plate change occurred in March 2002 making the new number plate sequence 02.

If you want to determine the age of a car for insurance or purchasing purposes, it's very easy once you understand the way the ‘age identifier’ alters over time. Simply look at the third and fourth digits on the number plate known as the ‘age identifiers’. For example, if these digits are 05, then the car was registered after March 2005, if digits are 55 then the car would be registered after August 1st, 2005.

Here is a table containing age identifiers:

Year

1 March to end of August

1 September to end of February

2001/02

 

51

2002/03

2

52

2003/04

3

53

2004/05

4

54

2005/06

5

55

2006/07

6

56

2007/08

7

57

2008/09

8

58

2009/10

9

59

2010/11

10

60

2011/12

11

61

2012/13

12

62

2013/14

13

63

2014/15

14

64

2015/16

15

65

2016/17

16

66

2017/18

17

67

2018/19

18

68

2019/20

19

69

2020/21

20

70

2021/22

21

71

2022/23

and continues on

until 50/00 in 2050/51


What does a car number plate mean?

Registration plates in the UK usually determine the age and place of origin of the car. All cars must by law have a number plate displayed if they are used on public roads. The system used today consists of two letters, two digits, and then three letters.

The first group states the place of origin, the second is the ‘age identifier.’ The last are randomly selected letters with no meaning, to make the car registration unique. The current scheme contains sufficient numbers to run up until 2051.

Car Registration Plate Diagram

The ‘local memory tag’ which is the first group of letters marks the exact office where the vehicle has been registered. These first two letters denote the name of the broader area where the plate is registered. The DVLA provides a list containing all possible plate permutations detailed below: 

Regional Identifiers

Region

DVLA Office

AA, AB, AC, AD, AE, AF, AG, AH, AJ, AK, AL, AM, AN

Anglia

Peterborough

AO, AP, AR, AS, AT, AU

Anglia

Norwich

AV, AW, AX, AY

Anglia

Ipswich

BA, BB, BC, BD, BE, BF, BG, BH, BJ, BK, BL, BM, BN, BO, BP, BR, BS, BT, BU, BV, BW, BX, BY

Birmingham

Birmingham

CA, CB, CC, CD, CE, CF, CG, CH, CJ, CK, CL, CM, CN, CO

Cymru

Cardiff

CP, CR, CS, CT, CU, CV

Cymru

Swansea

CW, CX, CY

Cymru

Bangor

DA, DB, DC, DD, DE, DF, DG, DH, DJ, DK

Deeside to Shrewsbury

Chester

DL, DM, DN, DO, DP, DR, DS, DT, DU, DV, DW, DX, DY

Deeside to Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury

EA, EB, EC, ED, EE, EF, EG, EH, EJ, EK, EL, EM, EN, EO, EP, ER, ES, ET, EU, EV, EW, EX, EY

Essex

Chelmsford

FA, FB, FC, FD, FE, FF, FG, FH, FJ, FK, FL, FM, FN, FP

Forest and Fens

Nottingham

FR, FS, FT, FV, FW, FX, FY

Forest and Fens

Lincoln

GA, GB, GC, GD, GE, GF, GG, GH, GJ, GK, GL, GM, GN, GO

Garden of England

Maidstone

GP, GR, GS, GT, GU, GV, GX, GY

Garden of England

Brighton

HA, HB, HC, HD, HE, HF, HG, HH, HJ

Hampshire and Dorset

Bournemouth

HK, HL, HM, HN, HO, HP, HR, HS, HT, HU, HV

Hampshire and Dorset

Portsmouth

HW

Hampshire and Dorset

Portsmouth (Used exclusively for the Isle of Wight)

HX, HY

Hampshire and Dorset

Portsmouth

KA, KB, KC, KD, KE, KF, KG, KH, KJ, KK, KL

-

Luton

KM, KN, KO, KP, KR, KS, KT, KU, KV, KW, KX, KY

-

Northampton

LA, LB, LC, LD, LE, LF, LG, LH, LJ

London

Wimbledon

LK, LL, LM, LN, LO, LP, LR, LS, LT

London

Stanmore

LU, LV, LW, LX, LY

London

Sidcup

MA, MB, MC, MD, ME, MF, MG, MH, MJ, MK, ML, MM, MN, MO, MP, MR, MS, MT, MU, MV, MW, MX, MY

Manchester and Merseyside

Manchester

NA, NB, NC, ND, NE, NF, NG, NH, NJ, NK, NL, NM, NN, NO

North

Newcastle

NP, NR, NS, NT, NU, NV, NW, NX, NY

North

Stockton

OA, OB, OC, OD, OE, OF, OG, OH, OJ, OK, OL, OM, ON, OO, OP, OR, OS, OT, OU, OV, OW, OX, OY

Oxford

Oxford

PA, PB, PC, PD, PE, PF, PG, PH, PJ, PK, PL, PM, PN, PO, PP, PR, PS, PT

Preston

Preston

PU, PV, PW, PX, PY

Preston

Carlisle

RA, RB, RC, RD, RE, RF, RG, RH, RJ, RK, RL, RM, RN, RO, RP, RR, RS, RT, RU, RV, RW, RX, RY

Reading

Reading

SA, SB, SC, SD, SE, SF, SG, SH, SJ

Scotland

Glasgow

SK, SL, SM, SN, SO

Scotland

Edinburgh

SP, SR, SS, ST

Scotland

Dundee

SU, SV, SW

Scotland

Aberdeen

SX, SY

Scotland

Inverness

VA, VB, VC, VD, VE, VF, VG, VH, VJ, VK, VL, VM, VN, VO, VP, VR, VS, VT, VU, VV, VW, VX, VY

Severn Valley

Worcester

WA, WB, WC, WD, WE, WF, WG, WH, WJ

West of England

Exeter

WK, WL

West of England

Truro

WM, WN, WO, WP, WR, WS, WT, WU, WV, WW, WX, WY

West of England

Bristol

YA, YB, YC, YD, YE, YF, YG, YH, YJ, YK

Yorkshire

Leeds

YL, YM, YN, YO, YP, YR, YS, YT, YU

Yorkshire

Sheffield

YV, YW, YX, YY

Yorkshire

Beverley


Number Plate Rules

The DVLA released all the details for compulsory number plates on September 1st, 2001 along with the new system. The chosen font in current use aims to make number plates easy to read. Any number plate on a car registered after this date must contain all the following correct features.

Character Font

All UK number plates use a font called ‘Charles Wright’ named after its designer. It was used on old style number plates before an updated version was produced which is also referred to as ‘Charles Wright new.’

Spacing Between Characters

UK registration plates use monospacing, meaning that every character (except I/1) is of equal width and height.

Other spacing is uniform. A gap of 11mm must be left between each digit, as well as an 11mm margin around the outside of the registration plate. The gap in the middle separating the digits into 2 groups must be exactly 33mm.

Size of Characters

All number plate characters must be 79mm tall and 50mm wide with a thickness of 14mm.

Illegal Number Plate Fonts

UK laws on number plates are very strict with only two legal fonts of standard and 3D effect (two tone). Before this law was introduced, italic, highline and carbon fonts were allowed, but these are now prohibited.

Apart from the digits, the only other permissible extras are borders and flags. No other images, slogans or text can be added to the plate. Rules introduced in April 2009 now allow number plates in England, Scotland and Wales to display the Union Flag, Saltire, Red Dragon of Wales or Cross of St George.

Car owners found with incorrectly spaced or illegal number plate fonts can be fined up to £1000 for the offence, and the car will fail its MOT.

What will the future bring for number plates?

The number plate system in place will only last until 2050, because adding 50 every September will eventually require an extra digit on the plate. Even though it's a long way off (32 years to be exact) there are no other new number plate systems in the pipeline. We suspect that the DVLA will devise a different solution in the future!



Howard Garages (Weston) Ltd is an Appointed Representative of Automotive Compliance Ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA No 497010). Automotive Compliance Ltd’s permissions as a Principal Firm allows Howard Garages (Weston) Ltd to act as a credit broker, not as a lender, for the introduction to a limited number of finance providers and to act as an agent on behalf of the insurer for insurance distribution activities only.

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