plates explainedUK Number Plates Explained

The number plate system for cars in the United Kingdom is often a cause for confusion. Read our short guide to clear up any questions you might have!

At the moment, the system used in the UK has been in place since 2001. A standard registration plate comprises of seven letters and numbers in a specific format which indicate a number of factors, including how old the car is, and where in the country it was registered.

The annotated image to the right is an example of a typical car registration plate. The first two letters identify which DVLA office the car was first registered at; for example, 'B' means that the region of the office is in Birmingham, and 'D' refers to the exact office. The following two numbers are an indication of the year the car was registered in. This can either be the last two digits of the year if it was within the first half of the year (e.g. 06 for April 2006), or the last two digits plus 50 for cars registered within the second half of the year (e.g. 62 for October 2012). The final three letters are random and act as a unique identifier for each car. There are some additional technicalities, such as the fact that you can have an older plate on a newer car, but not the other way around; i.e. an 02 plate on a 14 car is fine, but a 14 plate on an 02 car is not. You also cannot legally have different fonts, additional logos or symbols, or anything which obscures the characters to make them look different from a distance. That’s UK number plates explained, so hopefully you can now find your ideal number plate from our impressive collection of car registrations for sale.