If you don’t understand how the numbers and letters on car number plates work, they can just seem like a completely random combination. However, each component of the number plate gives you a key piece of information about where a car was registered and how old it is.
The current number plate format was introduced in 2001 and is made up of three parts – a local memory tag, the age identifier, and random letters. The first two letters of a number plate are the local memory tag, which shows where the vehicle was registered. The first letter represents the region while the second represents a DVLA local office. For example, a vehicle registered in Wales will have a number plate starting with CA through to CY – the C stands for Cymru.
|First letter||Region title|
|F||Forest and Fens (Nottingham and Lincoln)|
|G||Garden of England (Maidstone and Brighton)|
|H||Hampshire and Dorset|
|K||No official title (but Luton and Northamptonshire area)|
|M||Manchester and Merseyside|
|P||Preston (including Carlisle)|
|W||West of England (Exeter, Bristol, Truro)|
|X||Vehicles exported outside of the UK|
The two numbers in the middle show the age of the vehicle down to a six month period – March to August or September to February. The age identifier changes on March 1 and September 1. Vehicles released from March adopt the year that they are produced in, while those produced from September 2020 onwards adopt a number in the 70s to signify a new decade.
Car manufacturers typically release the latest version of the cars in their line-up in March and September. March age identifiers simply follow the year of registration – for instance, a car that has been registered from March 2022 will have the number 22 as an age identifier. For cars registered between September and February, the code is the year (as of September) plus 50. So, cars produced from September 2022 to February 2023 will have the number 72 as their age identifier.
Finally, the last three letters on the number plate are completely random and are allocated to a dealership when the car is registered. he random nature of these letters and specific allocation to a dealership gives each vehicle a unique identity.