A guide to UK number plates

By: Christina Smith
A guide to UK number plates

Not only does September welcome the end of summer and the beginning of darker evenings, but also the arrival of the new UK registration plate. Today marked the release of the new ’72 plate, an exciting time for those looking to purchase a new car on the market.

Here's our short guide to UK registration plates, and what they mean: 


Launching twice a year, new registration plates are set to release in the UK on 1st March and 1st September. Cars purchased since 2001 will display registration plates containing seven characters, which are specific to each car and used for identification. 


The first four characters are comprised of two letters, and two numbers. The first two letters are used to display where the car was registered (EG; B = Birmingham), and the two numbers are used to display when the car was registered (EG; 22 = 2022).
UK registration plates also contain three letters at the end, but these are randomly assigned to your local dealer, so we don't need to worry about them. Unless you’re cool enough to sport your own personalised number plate, you’ll probably recognise a similar character sequence on your own vehicle.


What does the new plate '72 refer to?

Plates released towards the beginning of the year, on 1st March, will display the numerical year of registration, for example, plates registered on 1st March 2022 will contain the number 22, plates registered on 1st March 2021 will contain the number 21, and so on and so forth.
However, plates registered towards the latter half of the year will display a different number, which is simply calculated by adding the year to the number 50. The chart below shows how this has worked in previous years:

2022 = 72

2021 = 71

2020 = 70

2019 = 69

2018 = 68

2017 = 67

In theory, this sequence should be ongoing until 2050. However, the format of UK number plates can also be dependable on whether it will display something innapropriate or offensive, another job for DVLA to spot.


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