When do car number plates change?

With the current number plate system, plates are updated twice a year and with this comes a huge hype across the country to purchase the latest vehicle and number plate. 

Since number plates were first introduced in 1903 in the UK, there have been several systems in place that differentiate one number plate from another. With each system, number plates have been updated on an annual basis, however that changed with the current system that was introduced in 2001. We will look into previous number plate systems, the format of the new system and when they are released each year and let you know when number plates change

When do car number plates change?
When do car number plates change?

What are the previous number plate systems? 

Before the current system, there were three other number plate systems in place in the UK: 

Dateless 1903-1963 

These are by far the most expensive number plates to purchase at the moment, not only because they have no date on them, but these shorter registration numbers are high in demand because they are so unique. 

Initially, the plate was made up of 3 letters that symbolised the local council identifier, followed by three random numbers. In the 1950s, the number variations began to run out, so the plate was made in reverse order, i.e., ‘123 ABC’. 

Suffix 1963-1983 

From here on, the number plate systems ran out a lot quicker, with the suffix plates only lasting 20 years. Once the dateless plates ran out, the suffix system was introduced and a letter was added to the number plate to signify the year the vehicle was registered. Now a number plate consisted of 7 characters, and in 1963, a plate would take the format of ‘AAA 111A’ and the last ‘A’ would be replaced by a ‘B’ in 1964, and so on. 

Prefix 1983-2001 

The prefix system is the last system used before our current one, therefore you will probably see vehicles with these plates still on the road. This system followed the exact same rules as the suffix, except the letter to indicate the year the vehicle was registered was moved to the front of the plate. Vehicles manufactured in 1983 would begin with an ‘A’, in 1984, ‘B’, and this system carried on until 2001. 

What is the current number plate system? 

The current system we use today was launched in September 2001 and is made up of three separate parts: 

Memory tag: The first two letters identify where the vehicle was first registered in the country. The first letter represents the region and the second letter, the closest DVLA office to where it was registered. 

Vehicle age: The first letters are followed by two numbers that show the age of the vehicle. The first number highlights whether the vehicle was registered in the first or second half of the year. Number plates are released every March and September, the first number of vehicles registered between the years 2001-2009 in March would be ‘0’, and for vehicles registered in September would be ‘5’ The second number reveals the year that the vehicle was created. Therefore, if a vehicle was registered in March 2002 the numbers would be ‘02’. 

When do number plates change? 

So, if you’re looking to invest in a new vehicle, it might be a good idea to wait until March 2020 so that you are able to get the newest number plate. Currently, the latest number plate was the launch of ‘69’ in September 2019, however, as we reach a new decade and the first number moves up to ‘7’, there will be a lot of hype and popularity surrounding the new plate. 

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Thanks for stopping by today, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post.

rachel bustin


*This is a collaborative post

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