Car registration years – a complete guide to understanding number plates

July 6, 2021


Car registration years

How does the car registration plate system work?

Number plate area codes (first two letters)

When do new number plates come out?

Private number plates & personalised registrations

What are private number plates?

Is it legal to purchase and use private number plates?

Check car tax/MOT

Working out how old a car is based on its registration plate used to be relatively easy, with the first letter of a car registration being used to denote the year it was registered.

This process started in 1983 (before then the letters were used as a suffix on the number plate), and ran all the way to 2001.

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Car registration years

From 2001 car registration years have been signified by numbers which denote the year they were registered.

car registration plate with identifiers

How old is my car?

See our chart below which includes a full list of car registration years to work out how old your car is:

A reg year 1963
B reg year 1964
C reg year 1965
D reg year 1966
E / F reg year 1967
F / G reg year 1968
G / H reg year 1969
H / J reg year 1970
J / K reg year 1971
K / L reg year 1972
L / M reg year 1973
M / N reg year 1974
N / P reg year 1975
P / R reg year 1976
R / S reg year 1977
S / T reg year 1978
T / V reg year 1979
V / W reg year 1980
W / X reg year 1981
X / Y reg year 1982
Y / A reg year 1983
A / B reg year 1984
B / C reg year 1985
C / D reg year 1986
D / E reg year 1987
E / F reg year 1988
F / G reg year 1989
G / H reg year 1990
H / J reg year 1991
J / K reg year 1992
K / L reg year 1993
L / M reg year 1994
M / N reg year 1995
N / P reg year 1996
P / R reg year 1997
R / S reg year 1998
S / T / V reg year 1999
V / W / X reg year 2000
X / Y / 51 reg year 2001
02 / 52 reg year 2002
03 / 53 reg year 2003
04 / 54 reg year 2004
05 / 55 reg year 2005
06 / 56 reg year 2006
07 / 57 reg year 2007
08 / 58 reg year 2008
09 / 59 reg year 2009
10 / 60 reg year 2010
11 / 61 reg year 2011
12 / 62 reg year 2012
13 / 63 reg year 2013
14 / 64 reg year 2014
15 / 65 reg year 2015
16 / 66 reg year 2016
17 / 67 reg year 2017
18 / 68 reg year 2018
19 / 69 reg year 2019
20 registration plate March to August 2020
70 reg plate September 2020 to February 2021
21 reg plate March to August 2021
71 reg plate September 2021 to March 2022
22 reg plate March to August 2022
72 reg plate September 2022 to March 2023

How does the new car registration plate system work?

Before, registration plates had a letter that designated the year it was registered then three letters that were entirely random. Then there were three more letters at the end, two of which would denote the area the vehicle was registered.

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Example of an 'old' car registration: A653 GHD

Now the car registration system uses two numbers to denote the year of registration, which are preceded by two letters which show where the car was registered.

The final three letters on the new plates are entirely random.

What do the first 2 letters on a number plate mean?

Here's how it's all broken down

  • Local memory tag - The first two letters show where the vehicle was registered. The first letter represents the region and the second references which specific DVLA local office.
  • Age identifier - The two numbers that follow the local memory tag represent the age of the vehicle rounded down to a six month period - March-August or September-February as the age identifier changes on 1 March and 1 September.
  • Random letters - The last three letters are random and are used to make sure each car has a unique identity.

Example of current car registration: LA55 RSF


Number plate area codes in the UK (the first 2 letters)

Car Reg Area Identifier
UK Region
DVLA Office Location
AA, AB, AC, AD, AE, AF, AG, AH, AJ, AK, AL, AM, AN Anglia Peterborough
AO, AP, AR, AS, AT, AU Anglia Norwich
AV, AW, AX, AY Anglia Ipswich
BA, BB, BC, BD, BE, BF, BG, BH, BJ, BK, BL, BM, BN, BO, BP, BR, BS, BT, BU, BV, BW, BX, BY Birmingham Birmingham
CA, CB, CC, CD, CE, CF, CG, CH, CJ, CK, CL, CM, CN, CO Cymru (Wales) Cardiff
CP, CR, CS, CT, CU, CV Cymru (Wales) Swansea
CW, CX, CY Cymru (Wales) Bangor
DA, DB, DC, DD, DE, DF, DG, DH, DJ, DK Deeside to Shrewsbury Chester
DL, DM, DN, DO, DP, DR, DS, DT, DU, DV, DW, DX, DY Deeside to Shrewsbury Shrewsbury
EA, EB, EC, ED, EE, EF, EG, EH, EJ, EK, EL, EM, EN, EO, EP, ER, ES, ET, EU, EV, EW, EX, EY Essex Chelmsford
FA, FB, FC, FD, FE, FF, FG, FH, FJ, FK, FL, FM, FN, FP Forest and Fens Nottingham
FR, FS, FT, FV, FW, FX, FY Forest and Fens Lincoln
GA, GB, GC, GD, GE, GF, GG, GH, GJ, GK, GL, GM, GN, GO Garden of England Maidstone
GP, GR, GS, GT, GU, GV, GX, GY Garden of England Brighton
HA, HB, HC, HD, HE, HF, HG, HH, HJ Hampshire and Dorset Bournemouth
HK, HL, HM, HN, HO, HP, HR, HS, HT, HU, HV, HX, HY Hampshire and Dorset Portsmouth
HW Hampshire and Dorset Portsmouth (used only for the Isle of Wight)
KA, KB, KC, KD, KE, KF, KG, KH, KJ, KK, KL - Luton
KM, KN, KO, KP, KR, KS, KT, KU, KV, KW, KX, KY - Northhampton
LA, LB, LC, LD, LE, LF, LG, LH, LJ London Wimbledon
LK, LL, LM, LN, LO, LP, LR, LS, LT London Stanmore
LU, LV, LW, LX, LY London Sidcup
MA, MB, MC, MD, ME, MF, MG, MH, MJ, MK, ML, MM, MN, MO, MP, MR, MS, MT, MU, MV, MW, MX, MY Manchester and Merseyside Manchester
NA, NB, NC, ND, NE, NF, NG, NH, NJ, NK, NL, NM, NN, NO North Newcastle
NP, NR, NS, NT, NU, NV, NW, NX, NY North Stockton
OA, OB, OC, OD, OE, OF, OG, OH, OJ, OK, OL, OM, ON, OO, OP, OR, OS, OT, OU, OV, OW, OX, OY Oxford Oxford
PA, PB, PC, PD, PE, PF, PG, PH, PJ, PK, PL, PM, PN, PO, PP, PR, PS, PT Preston Preston
PU, PV, PW, PX, PY Preston Carlisle
RA, RB, RC, RD, RE, RF, RG, RH, RJ, RK, RL, RM, RN, RO, RP, RR, RS, RT, RU, RV, RW, RX, RY, Reading Reading
SA, SB, SC, SD, SE, SF, SG, SH, SJ Scotland Glasgow
SK, SL, SM, SN, SO Scotland Edinburgh
SP, SR, SS, ST Scotland Dundee
SU, SV, SW Scotland Aberdeen
SX, SY Scotland Inverness
VA, VB, VC, VD, VE, VF, VG, VH, VJ, VK, VL, VM, VN, VO, VP, VR, VS, VT, VU, VV, VW, VX, VY Severn Valley Worcester
WA, WB, WC, WD, WE, WF, WG, WH, WJ West of England Exeter
WK, WL West of England Truro
WM, WN, WO, WP, WR, WS, WT, WU, WV, WW, WX, WY West of England Bristol
YA, YB, YC, YD, YE, YF, YG, YH, YJ, YK Yorkshire Leeds
YL, YM, YN, YO, TP, YR, YS, YT, YU Yorkshire Sheffield
YV, YW, YX, YY Yorkshire Beverley


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When do new number plates come out?

New number plates are released twice a year - on 1 March and 1 September.

The new number plates then run for six months - rather than the old system which only released new registrations once a year at a set date.

This led to new car buyers waiting until August to buy, meaning car dealers would see lower sales of new cars for the rest of the year.

Private number plates & personalised registrations

Most people find that when buying a new or second-hand car, the number plate for that vehicle is usually preassigned. Private registration numbers can be purchased and used on vehicles registered with the DVLA.

Some types of private registrations, such as the Northern Ireland style, allow you to hide the age of the vehicle, which is why it is always worth checking the true vehicle age before making a decision and not just going off the number plate. Many people use private numbers to display their name, initials, occupation or even interests.

What are private number plates?

Private number plates, also known as personalised number plates, are number plates that include appealing combinations of numbers and letters (such as V1 P, FA57).

Private number plates allow drivers a fashionable way of separating their vehicles from others. The private number plate gives drivers a chance to express themselves in a unique way, replacing the generic combination of letters and numbers with one that is personally meaningful.

Is it legal to purchase and use private number plates?

Yes. Selling and reselling Private number plates is 100% legal and fully endorsed by the DVLA. Although, one main rule governs the buying, selling, and registering of private number plates: number plates cannot be used to make an older vehicle appear newer.

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Check your MOT and Tax

Get a heads up on your MOT history, tax expiry date and whether you can expect your vehicle to Pass or Fail its next MOT using Its a helpful tool to learn more about your vehicle with helpful insights comparing your car to others in the UK so you know what you could expect from your cars MOT test before you go.

Check MOT History & Pass Rate

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