Registration plates and years of issue
The Vehicle Registration Mark or VRM (often called a number plate or registration plate) helps indicate when a vehicle was first registered. The system changed in September 2001 - you can use the tables below to check a vehicle's registration date. Remember, however, that a vehicle's plate can be changed to a cherished plate or personal plate by the owner.
The Current System
The standard format is:
- two letters – the DVLA memory tag identifier - this tells you where the vehicle registration number was first issued, then
- two numbers - this is the age identifier, then
- three further letters - these are randomly assigned.
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|51||September 2001 to February 2002|
|52||September 2002 to February 2003|
|53||September 2003 to February 2004|
|54||September 2004 to February 2005|
|55||September 2005 to February 2006|
|56||September 2006 to February 2007|
|57||September 2007 to February 2008|
|58||September 2008 to February 2009|
|59||September 2009 to February 2010|
|60||September 2010 to February 2011|
|61||September 2011 to February 2012|
|62||September 2012 to February 2013|
|63||September 2013 to February 2014|
|64||September 2014 to February 2015|
|65||September 2015 to February 2016|
|66||September 2016 to February 2017|
|67||September 2017 to February 2018|
|68||September 2018 to February 2019|
|69||September 2019 to February 2020|
|70||September 2020 to February 2021|
|02||March 2002 to August 2002|
|03||March 2003 to August 2003|
|04||March 2004 to August 2004|
|05||March 2005 to August 2005|
|06||March 2006 to August 2006|
|07||March 2007 to August 2007|
|08||March 2008 to August 2008|
|09||March 2009 to August 2009|
|10||March 2010 to August 2010|
|11||March 2011 to August 2011|
|12||March 2012 to August 2012|
|13||March 2013 to August 2013|
|14||March 2014 to August 2014|
|15||March 2015 to August 2015|
|16||March 2016 to August 2016|
|17||March 2017 to August 2017|
|18||March 2018 to August 2018|
|19||March 2019 to August 2019|
|20||March 2020 to August 2020|
|21||March 2021 to August 2021|
Older prefix-style registrations
Prefix style registrations ran from 1983 to 2001 and the first letter indicates when the vehicle was registered.
|A||August 1983 to July 1984|
|B||August 1984 to July 1985|
|C||August 1985 to July 1986|
|D||August 1986 to July 1987|
|E||August 1987 to July 1988|
|F||August 1988 to July 1989|
|G||August 1989 to July 1990|
|H||August 1990 to July 1991|
|J||August 1991 to July 1992|
|K||August 1992 to July 1993|
|L||August 1993 to July 1994|
|M||August 1994 to July 1995|
|N||August 1995 to July 1996|
|P||August 1996 to July 1997|
|R||August 1997 to July 1998|
|S||August 1998 to February 1999|
|T||March 1999 to August 1999|
|V||September 1999 to February 2000|
|W||March 2000 to August 2000|
|X||September 2000 to February 2001|
|Y||March 2001 to August 2001|
To avoid confusion, I, O, Q, U and Z weren't used as they looked too similar to other letters or numbers.
Registration plates have evolved over the past hundred years from the original A1 to the present format of 7 digits. You will still find examples of other formats on older vehicles or as personal plates (see below). Some have numbers followed by letters, others have letters and numbers.
Many people like to have their name or initials on their number plate. Personal plates can be bought from DVLA or they can be purchased from specialist companies. There are some rules around personal plates and some things to look out for:
- A personal plate should never make a vehicle look newer than it actually is - you cannot put a 55 plate on a 2003 vehicle, but you can put it on a 2008 vehicle.
- You cannot add spaces, dots, or formatting of any kind to make a number look like a letter or vice versa.
- If a vehicle is for sale with a personal plate on, enquire if the plate is to remain with the vehicle or if it will be changed for an 'age related' plate.
- Many people use Irish registration numbers to make up names and to disguise the age of their vehicles. These are usually 3 letters followed by up to 4 numbers and include the letter I which is not found in any GB plate.
An Experian AutoCheck will give you the history of any plate changes associated with a vehicle.