FAQ & help guide to answer any questions you may have in relation to the purchase, transfer and sale of personalised reg number plates including historic reg number data and frequently asked questions.
If there is anything you need to discuss further, please contact the reg number experts in our admin department who will be happy to help.
Unless you want to pay the Department of Transport fee to retain it, the registration is automatically made void. In nearly all cases the old registration will be retuned to your vehicle if you remove the personalised number plate at a later date. This returns the vehicle back to its original reg plate. You simply remove the old plates and fit the new ones at the time we advise.
A1 - The Ultimate Number Plate?
Number plates were first issued in 1903 when Earl Russell was assigned the highly prestigious mark A1 to his Napier motor car by London County Council.
Even in the early days, people recognised the significance and enjoyment brought by owning a prestigious or personalised number plate and often kept them within the family for many years. Their significance is often highly personalised to their owners. Some like to have a registration that originated in their local area, some are attracted to owning their own initials and others enjoy the fun of a word based registration mark.
Registrations that are car related always prove popular such as 45 TON on an Aston Martin DB6
Since their humble beginning in 1903, cherished numbers have continued to increase in popularity often adding the finishing touch to our prized possessions and very often prove to be a valuable investment.
The Motor Car Act 1903, which came into force on 1 January 1904, required all motor vehicles to be entered on an official vehicle register, and to carry number plates. The Act was passed in order that vehicles could be easily traced in the event of an accident or contravention of the law. Vehicle registration number plates in the UK are rectangular or square in shape, with the exact permitted dimensions of the plate and its lettering set down in law.
Regplates Youtube guide on how to correctly fit number plates.
|Dateless Number Plates 1903 - 1963|
The first series of number plates were issued in 1903 and ran until 1932, using the series A 1 to YY 9999. The letter or pair of letters indicated the local authority in whose area the vehicle was registered, for example A – London, B – Lancashire, C – West Riding of Yorkshire. In England and Wales the letter codes were initially allocated in order of population size (by the 1901 census) whilst Scotland and Ireland had their own sequences incorporating the letters "S" and "I" respectively, which were allocated alphabetically: IA = Antrim, IB = Armagh, etc. When a licensing authority reached 9999, it was allocated another two letter mark, but there was no pattern to these subsequent allocations as they were allocated on a first come first served basis. There are three interesting anomalies where a zero has been issued – The Lord Provost of Edinburgh has S 0 and his Glasgow counterpart has G 0 while the official car of the Lord Provost of Aberdeen has RG 0. In addition the Lord Mayor of London has the registration LB 0.
By 1932, the available numbers within this scheme were running out, and an extended scheme was introduced. This scheme consisted of three letters and up to three digits, taken from the series AAA 1 to YYY 999. The letters I, Q, and Z were never used, as they were considered too easy to mistake for other letters or numbers or were reserved for special use, such as the use of I and Z for Irish registrations and Q for temporary imports. (After independence, the Republic of Ireland continued to use this scheme until 1986, and Northern Ireland still uses it.)
The three-letter scheme preserved the area letter codes as the second pair of letters in the set of three, and the single letter area codes were deleted (since prefixing a single letter code would create a duplicate of a two-letter code). In some areas, the available numbers with this scheme started to run out in the 1950s, and in those areas, a reversed sequence was introduced, i.e. 1 AAA to 999 YYY. The ever-increasing popularity of the car can be gauged by noting that these sequences ran out within ten years, and by the beginning of the 1960s, a further change was made in very popular areas, introducing 4-number sequences with the one and two letter area codes, but in the reverse direction to the early scheme (i.e. 1 A to 9999 YY). Often number plates were on hinges, as petrol tank caps were located under the number plates on some cars.
|Suffix Number Plates 1963 - 1982|
In 1963, numbers were running out once again, and an attempt was made to create a national scheme to alleviate the problem. The three letter, up to three number system was kept, but a letter suffix was added, which changed every year. In this scheme, numbers were drawn from the range AAA 1A to YYY 999A for the first year, then AAA 1B to YYY 999B for the second year, and so on. Some areas did not adopt the year letter for the first two years, sticking to their own schemes, but in 1965 adding the year letter was made compulsory.
As well as yielding many more available numbers, it was a handy way for vehicle buyers to know the age of the vehicle immediately. At first the year letter changed on 1 January every year, but car retailers started to notice that buyers would tend to wait until the New Year for the new letter to be issued, so that they could get a "newer" car. This led to major peaks and troughs in sales over the year, and to help flatten this out somewhat the industry lobbied to get the month of registration changed from January to August. This was done in 1967, a year that had two letter changes: "E" came in January, and "F" came in August.
|Prefix Number Plates 1983 - 2001|
By 1982, the year suffixes had reached Y and so from 1983 onwards the sequence was reversed again, so that the year letter — starting again at "A" — preceded the numbers then the letters of the registration. The available range was then A21 AAA to Y999 YYY, the numbers 1–20 being held back for the government's proposed, and later implemented, DVLA select registration sales scheme. Towards the mid-1990s there was some discussion about introducing a unified scheme for Europe, which would also incorporate the country code of origin of the vehicle, but after much debate such a scheme was not adopted due to lack of countries willing to participate. The changes in 1983 also brought the letter Q into use – although on a very small and limited scale. It was used on vehicles of indeterminate age, such as those assembled from kits, substantial rebuilds, or imported vehicles where the documentation is insufficient to determine the age. There was a marked increase in the use of Q registrations in the late 1980s and early 1990s, fuelled by car crime. Many stolen vehicles had false identities given to them, and when this was discovered and the original identity could not be determined, a Q registration would be issued to that vehicle. It was seen as an aid to consumer protection.
It should be noted that the date denoted by a registration plate is the date a vehicle was first imported into the United Kingdom and registered with that registration system. For instance a vehicle manufactured in say 1991 and registered in Northern Ireland might have been given a 1993 registration letter when it was registered on the Swansea system. This also applies to vehicles imported from other countries. This is apparent by examining the registration document which will show a date of manufacture different from the date of first registration. The date of manufacture is notional, though, as vehicles may be manufactured and stored unused, for many years in some cases, and then registered as new when first registered into the system. This allows manufacturers to sell cars as new allowing for shipping, storing at dockyards etc.
In 1989 a lot of these stored old models were registered in advance of legislation that required all new vehicles registered on or after 1 January 1990 to have catalytic converters fitted. This included vehicles held in storage and out of production for several years, in some cases five years or more.
By the late 1990s, the range of available numbers was once again starting to run out, exacerbated by a move to biannual changes in registration letters (March and September) in 1999 to smooth out the bulge in registrations every August, so a new scheme needed to be adopted. It was decided to research a system that would be easier for crash or vehicle related crime witnesses to remember and clearer to read, yet still fit within a normal standard plate size.
|Current Issue Number Plates 2001 on|
The current format of number plates started in September 2001 with the '51' number identifier as shown in the 'DE51YRE' example above. The idea was to make vehicles easily identifiable and to allow 2 changes per year instead of the traditional one issue per year. This took pressure away from car dealers and diluted the rush with registering all new vehicles at the same time. This new format created several million new combinations offering scope for specific unreleased numbers to be purchased.
The transfer of number plates to Northern Ireland forms part of the cherished transfer scheme with a couple of differences. A number plate that is on a UK mainland vehicle can be transferred at the normal rate (currently £80) to a NI vehicle and the same is true in reverse for NI to UK transfers. If a number plate is held on a retention certificate (V778 / V750) then it must first be assigned to a UK mainland vehicle and then transferred to NI. The same is true of NI retention certificates.
This adds extra fees and time to the transfer process. Regplates currently offer the Northern Ireland transfer service for £100 plus the extra £80 DVLA fee, total £180. This service is open to our customers only.
UK & Overseas Number Plate Information is a section devoted to number plate topics from every country that issues plates!
The Register of Number Plate Suppliers ( RNPS ) shows who is registered and approved by the DVLA to make road legal number plates.
If you purchase them through a non registered supplier, your car many not pass an MOT and the number plates may not be road legal.
As Regplates is a DVLA registered number plate supplier (license number 47727) we can physically supply road legal number plates in line with all DVLA & MOT regulations.
Regplates offers a fully independent and widely recognised Valuation Service for vehicle registration marks.
You will receive a certificate which is accepted for insurance, probate or evaluation purposes. Clients wishing to insure can obtain full details of insurance and a proposal form upon request. Ideal when selling your personalised number plate.
Current DVLA Reg number and number plate information shows all the latest legal updates from the DVLA and VOSA in relation to number plates and vehicles.
Car Reg Number Buyers Guide contains specific information for buyers of personalised car reg plates.
Number Plate Area Identifiers where each plate combination is issued
Acrylic Number Plates a guide to the perspex plates on your vehicle
Car Number Plates Age Identifiers - Year Letter Prefix / Suffix numberplate age restriction information and year letters
Cherished Number Plate cherished style plate help
Registration Plate reg plate news and updates
Car Registrations car reg information and regulations
Number Plates number plates style
Private Number Plates all the private plate info you could ever need!
Cherished Numbers why are they so sought after and valuable?
The Phonetic Alphabet make sure your numberplate purchase is correct!
DVLA Number Plates DVLA number plate information
Cherished Number Plates Cherished Number Plate Guide
Personalised Number Plates - Buyers Guide To Personalised Number Plates
Private Number Plates - The Current Private Number Plates Section
Reg Number Plate Local DVLA Offices DVLA Local Office addresses and closure information
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