Car Registrations Explained

20 September 2021 Blog

With the recent release of the new 71 registration plate, we thought it might be useful to give you a little crash course on registration plates, and how they’re configured.

There may even be a few things you didn’t know already!

What Do The Numbers & Letters Mean On A Number Plate?

The easiest way to get your head around the letters and numbers is to break the registration plate down in sections.

There are two letters at the beginning, then two numbers and then the last three letters (unless you have a private plate of course)!

The first two letters indicate the area code where the vehicle was registered:

  • The first letter represents the region
  • The second letter a local DVLA office

The two middles numbers show what year the vehicle was registered, so for 2021 you will see the number 21.

Finally, you will see three letters at the end. These are usually completely random, and allocated to dealers at registration.

 

Number Plate Requirements When Driving Outside Of The UK

You may also notice a national flag on the occasional number plate or abbreviated initials of a particular country. This is still very much allowed and, the Blue European flag with ‘GB’ and stars around it will allow you to travel in your vehicle around Europe.

Please note, that as of 28 September 2021, there are changes to the GB/UK stickers on your number plate when you are driving outside of the UK.

If your number plate has any of the following, you will need to display a UK sticker clearly on the rear of your vehicle:

  • A Euro symbol
  • A GB identifier with the Union flag (Union Jack)
  • A national flag of England, Scotland or Wales
  • Numbers & letters only (with no flag identifier)

If your number plate has both a UK identifier and Union flag, you will not need a UK sticker.

If you’re driving in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, a UK sticker MUST be displayed, regardless of what is on your number plate.

If you have a GB sticker on your car, this must be covered or removed

More info on the changes and they come in to effect can be found here.

 

How Do The Numbers On My Car Registration Align To A Year?

What can be a little confusing when it comes to number plates, are the two numbers that represent the year.

Registration changes went from annual to twice yearly in 1999. Shortly after that, in September 2001, the current format number plate was introduced.

Cars registered from March to August used to begin with a ‘0’ for all the years ranging from 2001 (01)-2009 (09) and then a ‘1’ for the year’s 2010 (10)-2019 (19). Now we have moved into the year 20s, the numbers now begin with a ‘2’ (e.g. for 2021 it will be 21).

The numbers you see on the registration plate can help you calculate the age of a car. Cars registered in the first half of the year will be aligned with the calendar year. Cars registered from September through to the following February will have the same number as the year we are in, plus 50 (so in 2021 you will start seeing 71 plate cars from September onwards).

The table below breaks down the new format number plates you are likely to see on the roads by year:

Year

1 March to
end August

1 September to
end February

2001/02

 

51

2002/03

02

52

2003/04

03

53

2004/05

04

54

2005/06

05

55

2006/07

06

56

2007/08

07

57

2008/09

08

58

2009/10

09

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

 

Am I Allowed To Modify My Number Plate?

There can still be confusion around what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to number plates and modifications to private plates.

As a rule of thumb, personalised plates should follow these rules:

  • All new number plates must display the mandatory font.
  • Older plates can still be used, providing the font is similar to the current font.
  • Number plates cannot, if they have unusual font, have any symbols or fixing bolts that can alter the appearance of the letters or numbers in any way.

If any of these apply to you and your vehicle and you don’t replace them, you will run the risk of prosecution, so it is very important to double check this.

  

What Do The Green Coloured Blocks On Number Plates Mean?

One thing you may start to notice more frequently are green registration plates. This will raise awareness of zero emission vehicles on the road.

By 2030, there is a good chance every single registration plate across the UK will be green!

 

Looking To Upgrade To A Newer Plate?

At Motorpoint we only sell nearly new cars, so you’ll find a great choice of cars only a few years old, with low mileage and all under warranty.

Browse our whole range online, or visit your nearest store to take a closer look at any that catch your eye and take a test drive.