What do the characters on your car’s registration plate actually mean?

PUBLISHED: 09:58 14 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:16 14 March 2018

A Vauxhall Nova with the 'prefix style' numberplates

A Vauxhall Nova with the 'prefix style' numberplates

Vauxhall Motors

Many drivers will be heading to the showrooms in March looking to pick up a car bearing the shiny new 18 registration plate.

The Vauxhall Corsa turns 25 this year The Vauxhall Corsa turns 25 this year

But do you know what those combinations of numbers and letters actually means?

The DVLA began issuing number plates in the current format back in 2001 to simplify the existing ‘prefix style’, where the first letter corresponded with the year of registration (A=1983, B=1984, C=1985 and so on).

All cars registered between March 1 and August 31 2018 will bear the new 18 plate. Pretty simple so far.

The first two letters indicate the region the car was registered (EA, EB, EC etc is for cars registered in Essex, LA, LB, LC etc is for cars registered in London). The two numbers indicate what year (18 for cars registered between March and August of 2018, 68 for those registered between September 2018 and February 2019). Then three random letters.

What each character and number means on a DVLA number plate What each character and number means on a DVLA number plate

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) pulls some of the more offensive ones from production to stop the creative uses of numbers and letters to spell out rude or hateful messages.

However, if you’re after a special gift for someone, the DVLA also holds back some of the more special configurations for sale.

These personalised registrations (or private plates) can be bought direct from the DVLA or at a DVLA auction.

For football fans, letter combinations like WHU, THS, CFC are up for grabs, but expect to pay around £400 for the privilege of showing support for your club on your van, car or motorcycle.

A Vauxhall Corsa sporting a personalised numberplate A Vauxhall Corsa sporting a personalised numberplate

Geoff Champion, general manager at Vauxhall dealer Tony Le Voi says the reg change is still a big deal for consumers and dealers alike.

“It’s still the busiest time of year for us, and we expect an uplift in sales with the growth in the SUV segment.

“At our Lakeside and Romford sites we’ve already seen some of our returning customers opt for one of our SUV models, like the new Grandland X model. It’s a very welcoming car, packed full of great technology, and people are really taking to it.”

This year the dealer has some great offers on new Corsas, which coincides with the supermini’s 25th birthday, having been introduced to UK roads back in 1993.

“I think it’s remained popular, especially in the Havering area, because it’s a very versatile car. It comes in a range of transmissions and doors, and is enjoyed by both young and old drivers alike,” says Geoff.

You can drive away in a brand-new 18 plate Corsa Energy from just £149 deposit and £149 per month.

And if you head to the dealer this weekend, a representative from Vauxhall will be on hand to authorise extra discounts to help clear the forecourt. This is on top of the 0% finance offers, dealer deposit contributions and savings off the RRP you can expect from the company’s ‘Help To Buy’ promotion.

For more information visit the retailer’s locations in Romford and Lakeside or call 01708 201002 (Romford) / 01708 681800 (Lakeside).


What year was my car registered?

2001/02: 01/51

2002/03: 02/52

2003/04: 03/53

2004/05: 04/54

2005/06: 05/55

2006/07: 06/56

2007/08: 07/57

2008/09: 08/58

2009/10: 09/59

2010/11: 10/60

2011/12: 11/61

2012/13: 12/62

2013/14: 13/63

2014/15: 14/64

2015/16: 15/65

2016/17: 16/66

2017/18: 17/67

2018/19: 18/68

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