Car registration years – a complete guide to understanding number plates

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

car registration labels explained

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

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.

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

When do new number plates come out?

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

The new 19 reg cars will be released on 1 March 2019, and on 1 September 2019 the new 69 reg vehicles will be registered.

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.