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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Age Identifiers

Number Date Issued
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
Number Date Issued
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

Older prefix-style registrations

Prefix style registrations ran from 1983 to 2001 and the first letter indicates when the vehicle was registered.

Age identifiers

Prefix Date Issued
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
Prefix Date Issued
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.

Older vehicles

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.

Personal plates

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.

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