The Number Plate System

Learn the meaning of random numbers and letters on your number plate.

Unless you’ve got a personalised number plate, all cars are given a number plate which serves the purpose of identifying your car as and when required. The same principle works as a passport does for a person, as our passport number contains a unique combination of numbers and letters too.

However, have you ever wondered what these random numbers and letters mean? Here at CarCliq, we discuss how the number plate system works and how they are generated.
How does the number plate system work?
Let’s do an example; so, say you’ve got the plate DP18 ALX.

A number plate consists of three parts, these being the following…
1. The local memory tag.
These are the first two letters of the registration plate, which represent the “local memory tag”. This is the location where the car was registered.
So, in this case, our local memory tag would be DP and this means the number plate was registered in Shrewsbury. This is because the first two letters begin with DL to DY.

To find your local memory tag click here

2. Age identifier.
This is the third and fourth digit found in the number plate. These are changed every six months which fall in March and September, and they are distinguished in two versions.
In this example, the number plate’s two digits are 18, which means the car was registered between the period of March 2018 to August 2018. However, if the number plate was 68 – this would mean the number plate was registered between September 2018 to February 2019.

The easiest way to remember this is to think of the March period as the year and then the September period as the year but + 50.

3. Dealership code.
The last three digits/letters are completely random, these are allocated to a dealership when the car is registered with them. So in this example, the dealership number is ALX.

However, this system didn’t always work this way. The number plate system used to work with letters to identify the age, such as if your car was registered in 1963 it would be “A” and then this carried on till 2001.
To conclude, the DVLA have said the format of the number plates will be reviewed and updated in 2050.

For more CarCliq guides click here

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