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Car Registrations - How Does It Work?

As the UK have now changed number plates again, to the new 68 plates for car registrations, I though it might be fun to look at car registrations in a bit more detail, as I often get asked how this works.

The very first car registration plate was "A1" – was issued in 1903, when the Motor Car Act was enacted by Parliament. This registration plate remains one of the most valuable plates -currently owned by the brother of the Sultan of Brunei, Prince Jefri.

Prior to 1999, new car registrations happened in the August of the year – but after that, a twice yearly registration was adopted – meaning that we get new registrations on the 1st March AND the 1st of September each year. For those involved in the industry, this means that we have two exceptionally busy periods in our working lives – and the rest of the year is just "normal busy"!

For those of you who think that your number plate is just a random selection of letters and numbers, think again… there is actually a method to the number plate – shall I explain?!

The first two letters of your registration represent the region and the DVLA office where the vehicle was registered, this is sometimes referred to as the "local tag" and explains why you often see so many cars with the same details at the start of their registration plate.

Then you have the numbers. This denotes the age of the car, so the next registration will be the "68" followed in March next year with the "19" plate.

And then the final 3 letters are just a random selection of letters.

If your car was registered before 2001, it won't follow these rules, and it's also possible that your vehicle will have a clone, because local authorities kept dual registers for cars and motorbikes, and up until 1920, it was possible to have the same registration mark in the car register and the motorbike register. If you moved to a new area, your vehicle lost it's registration mark, and was assigned another, under the new local authority. A very confusing situation as motor travel got more accessible and popular.

The current system of car registrations can accommodate up to 12.6 Million new registrations each year, I wonder if we'll get to a point where we need to revise it again because that isn't enough?

Perhaps you're after a bit more "fun" with your number plate – and this is where personalised plates come in. These are really big business, with one number plate changing hands for in excess of £500,000! (£518,000 to be exact - just for the plates, not the car attached to it).

Many of us will remember the registration mark of our first car, and many of us will struggle to recall the selection of numbers and letters that makes up our current registration, especially if you need to remember it in order to pay for your car parking!

So next time you're stuck in traffic, look at the registration marks of the cars around you, see where they were registered and how old they are, you'll never suffer from road rage again. (I can't guarantee that this activity will prevent road rage, sorry!)

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Thursday, 23 January 2020