UK Number Plates

UK Number plates are used to identify a vehicle and to tell how old a vehicle is using the ‘age identifier’ on the number plate. UK number plates are a compulsory requirement and need to be displayed in order for motorists to drive on public roads. The registered number plate easily traces the vehicle in the result of an accident or breach of the law.

The current format number plate was introduced in September 2001 with the ‘51’ plate and is used across England, Scotland and Wales. New registrations come out twice a year on the 1st of March and the 1st of September.

The current UK Number Plate system works in three parts and the first part of the UK Number plate is made up of two letters which is a local memory tag. It identifies where the vehicle was registered. The local memory tag also helps to make the number plate more memorable.

The second part of the UK Number plate consists of a two digit ‘age identifier’ which changes at six month intervals. For example a ‘14’ plate would have been released on the 1st of March 2014 and the ‘64’ plate would be released on the 1st September 2014.

The third and last part of the UK Number Plate consists of three random letters which help uniquely identify a number plate. Anything that may appear offensive on any UK Number plate is excluded along with the letters I and Q.

UK Number Plates and the Law

The law states that you should not modify, rearrange or misrepresent the letters or numbers on any UK Number Plate. All number plates displayed on your vehicle should be made by a registered number plate supplier; you will need to provide your V5 vehicle registration certificate in order to have your number plate made up. The DVLA rules for legal display of your UK Number Plate are very specific and state that:

  • You must display a number plate on the front and rear of your vehicle
  • Black text on a white plate on the front of your vehicle
  • Black text on a yellow plate on the rear of your vehicle
  • The background surface of your number plate must be reflex-reflecting
  • Display the new mandatory font
  • Have the correct lettering and spacing
  • Be easy to read
  • Follow the British Standard

Failure to follow these UK Number Plate Rules can result in a fine of up to £1,000, the registration mark being withdrawn and your vehicle could fail the MOT. For more information about UK Number Plates and the law visit