- Current system in place since September 2001
- New 70-plate coming September 2020
- 2020 decade will have 2s and 7s in the number plate
- 2030 will have 3s and 8s
- You cannot tamper with registration plate
- First two letters represent UK regions
You’ll know that in the UK number plates change in the spring and in the autumn – on 1st March and 1st September – but do you know what the numbers and letters mean and what the numbers will be over the next decade? In this post you will find out.
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The current format of licence plates came into force in 2001. The number plate is divided into three sections. From left to right these are:
- Two letters that represent the region the car was registered
- Two numbers that represent when the car was registered
- A set of three letters that are randomly generated
The March number plates are the year, while the September plates are the year plus 50. So from 1st March 2020 new cars will have 20 in their number plate, while those registered from September will have 70.
You can see how this will pan out over the next decade in the table below:
|Year of car registration||Plate from March-onwards||Plate from September-onwards|
What will happen in 2030? You will see 30-plate cars from 1st March and then 80-plate cars from 1st September.
If you’re interested in a 20-plate car now, make sure you check out our latest new car deals.
Remember, you cannot swap the letters and numbers around on your number plate and you cannot alter the plate to make them hard to read. If you do so you could be fined up to £1000 and the car will fail its MOT test if you drive it with incorrectly displayed number plates.
The DVLA calls the first two letters that represent the region where the car was registered the ‘Memory Tags’. The first letter represents the region, the second letter identifies which postal area within the region. You can see where these memory tags represent in the table below.
|Letter||Region||DLVA memory tag identifier|
|D||Deeside to Shrewsbury||DA-DY|
|F||Forest & Fens||FA-FY|
|G||Garden of England||GA-GY|
|H||Hampshire & Dorset||HA-HY (HW is used exclusively for the Isle of White)|
|M||Manchester & Merseyside||MA-MY (MN + MAN reserved for the Isle of Man)|
|W||West of England||WA-WY|
The letters I, Q or Z are not used in memory tags identifiers. Z is only used as a random letter at the end of a number plate.
Why have a number plate?
Vehicle number plates are a way of identifying all vehicles and form part of the process that register and tax vehicles. The number plate stays with the car and not its owner until the car is destroyed or is exported – although an owner can transfer it to another vehicle.
Number plate specification
For vehicles made after 1 January 1973, the front number plate must have a white background while the rear number plate at the rear must have a yellow background.
There are strict rules concerning the specification of the letters and numbers in the registration plate.
- Characters must be 79mm tall
- Characters be 50mm wide (except the number 1 or letter I)
- The thickness of the character stroke must be 14mm
- The space between characters must be 11mm
- The space between the age identifier and the random letters must be 33mm
- The margins at the top, bottom and side must be 11mm
- The vertical space between the age identifier and the random numbers must be 19mm
The font used in the number plate has been in use since 2001 and is called the Charles Wright font.