British Car Registrations - Identifying Our Vehicles

Since 1904, all cars registered in the United Kingdom have had to carry registration numbers. These are referred to as British car registrations.

The current standard for British number plates is black characters on reflective white (for the front plate), and black characters on reflective yellow (for the rear plate). Older plates had used white, grey or silver characters on black backgrounds. Only vehicles built prior to January 1st 1973 may now carry these plates.

The current system of car registrations consists of seven characters. The first two characters are the area code, consisting of two letters. The first refers to the region, and the second to the local registration office.

This is followed by a two-digit age identifier. For British car registrations issued in March, the code is the last two digits of the year (e.g. '06' for March 2006). For car registrations issued in September, 50 is added to this number (e.g. '56' for September 2006).

A three-letter sequence follows, which has no specific meaning other than uniquely distinguishing each of the vehicles which display the same four-character sequence. This scheme is expected to have sufficient numbers to last until 2050.

Further information on car registration marks in the UK, make sure you check out all our car registrations information pages.

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