The Complete Guide To Car Registration Years

In the UK, car registration numbers have gone through three different styles over the years, which includes suffix, prefix and the “new style”. Each style represents a specific period and provides valuable information about a vehicle’s age. To help you determine the car registration years for each style, we have provided tables below of each.

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Car Registration Years
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Understanding a vehicle’s age can be useful for various purposes. For example, if you are buying or selling a car, determining its historical significance or simply satisfying curiosity, its age is an important factor.

The UK’s registration number system has evolved over time, reflecting changes in regulations and design trends. By decoding the registration number, you can unlock valuable information about when the vehicle was first registered.

It also helps when it comes to putting a private registration on your vehicle because you can’t put a private plate on your car that makes it look newer than it is (i.e. 2010 plate registration on a 1992 vehicle).

In this article, we delve into the three main styles of UK car registration numbers, which are suffix, prefix and the “new style”. To make it even easier, we’ve also compiled tables that outline the specific years covered by each style. If you would like to skip and view the car registration year tables, please click on the “jump” links below:

What Is A Suffix Number Plate?

Suffix registrations were a style of car registration numbers used in the United Kingdom from 1963 to 1982. They were called “suffix” because the letter indicating the year of registration appeared as a suffix at the end of the registration plate. This style introduced a systematic approach to denote the age of vehicles, making it easier to identify when a car was first registered.

What Do The Suffix Number & Letters Mean?

The suffix registration format consisted of three parts: the age identifier, the local memory tag and the random letters sequence. The age identifier was a single letter that represented the year of registration. It started with the letter “A” in 1963 and progressed sequentially through the alphabet, excluding certain letters. The reason for omitting some letters, such as “I”, “O”, “Q”, “U” and “Z” was to avoid confusion with numbers or other designations.

Suffix Number Plate

For example, a suffix registration plate from 1963 might appear as “ABC 123A” where “A” indicates the year of registration. As the years passed, the age identifier would change accordingly, so a plate from 1964 might read “ABC 123B” and one from 1965 would be “ABC 123C” and so on.

To create a comprehensive system, the letters in the age identifier followed a specific pattern. The letters “I” and “Q” were omitted because they resembled the numbers “1” and “0” respectively. The letter “O” was not used to prevent confusion with the number “0.” “U” was excluded due to its similarity to the letter “V” in certain fonts and “Z” was left out to avoid any resemblance to “2” in some typefaces.

How To Decode A Suffix Number Plate

Decoding a suffix number plate involves deciphering the age and location information embedded within the registration.

Lets consider the suffix registration plate “ABC 123A.” By breaking down the elements, we can extract the age and location information:

  1. Age Identifier: The age identifier is the final letter in the registration, which in this case is “A”. To determine the registration year, we refer to a decoding table below specific to the suffix style. For this example, “A” corresponds to the year 1963. Subsequently, the following year would be denoted by the letter “B” and so on.
  2. Location Memory Tag: The first part of the registration, “ABC” serves as the location memory tag. It provides information about the area where the vehicle was first registered. Decoding location memory tags can be complex because they are not standardized across the UK. Each local authority was allocated a specific code, resulting in a wide range of possible combinations.

To decode the location memory tag, you can refer to resources like historical registration books, local authority records or online databases that provide comprehensive information on the various location codes. For example, “ABC” might correspond to a specific city or district.

By combining the age identifier and the location memory tag, we can determine that the vehicle with the suffix number plate “ABC 123A” was likely registered in the year 1963 in a location corresponding to the code “ABC.”

Suffix Car Registration Years

Below is a table that displays all of the suffix style number plates from 1963 to 1983:

Plate Year From Year To
A August 1963 July 1964
B August 1964 July 1965
C August 1965 July 1966
D August 1966 July 1967
E August 1967 July 1968
F August 1967 July 1968
G August 1968 July 1969
H August 1969 July 1970
J August 1970 July 1971
K August 1971 July 1972
L August 1972 July 1973
M August 1973 July 1974
N August 1974 July 1975
P August 1975 July 1976
R August 1976 July 1977
S August 1977 July 1978
T August 1978 July 1979
V August 1979 July 1980
W August 1980 July 1981
X August 1981 July 1982
Y August 1982 July 1983

Prefix Number Plates

Prefix number plates were another style of car registration numbers used in the United Kingdom from 1983 to 2001. Unlike suffix plates, the year letter indicating the age of the vehicle appeared as a prefix at the beginning of the registration plate. This change in format allowed for a more logical progression in representing the registration years.

What Do The Prefix Number & Letters Mean?

A prefix registration plate comprised three parts: the age identifier, the random letters sequence and the local memory tag. The age identifier was a single letter at the beginning of the registration and denoted the year of registration. It started with the letter “A” in 1983 and advanced through the alphabet until 2000, excluding certain letters that could be easily confused with numbers or other characters.

For example, a prefix registration plate from 1983 might appear as “A123 ABC” where “A” represents the year of registration. Subsequent years would follow a similar pattern, such as “B123 ABC” for 1984 and “C123 ABC” for 1985.

Prefix Number Plates

The local memory tag, placed at the end of the registration provided information about the area where the vehicle was originally registered. Similar to suffix plates, the interpretation of the local memory tag requires consulting historical records, local authority data or reliable online resources that provide comprehensive information on the location codes.

Prefix number plates retained a similar format to suffix plates (we won’t decode prefix as it’s pretty much the same), featuring a combination of letters and numbers typically arranged over two lines. The age identifier, appearing as a letter at the beginning was often slightly larger and set apart to emphasize its significance. The font style used on these plates was typically bold and sans-serif, ensuring legibility and clarity.

Prefix Car Registration Years

Below is a table that displays all of the prefix style number plates from 1984 to 2001:

Plate Year From Year To
A August 1983 July 1984
B August 1984 July 1985
C August 1985 July 1986
D August 1986 July 1987
E August 1987 July 1988
F August 1988 July 1989
G August 1989 July 1990
H August 1990 July 1991
J August 1991 July 1992
K August 1992 July 1993
L August 1993 July 1994
M August 1994 July 1995
N August 1995 July 1996
P August 1996 July 1997
R August 1997 July 1998
S August 1998 February 1999
T March 1999 August 1999
V September 1999 February 2000
W March 2000 August 2000
X September 2000 February 2001
Y March 2001 August 2001

New Style Number Plates

The new style number plates were introduced in the United Kingdom in 2001 and are still in use today. This style brought significant changes in the format and representation of car registrations, offering a fresh and modern look.

What Do The New Style Number & Letters Mean?

The new style number plates consist of two parts: the age identifier and the random letters and numbers sequence. Unlike the suffix and prefix styles, the age identifier in the new style number plates is represented by a two-digit number that denotes the year of registration. The format follows a specific pattern with the first letter indicating the six-month period in which the vehicle was registered. For example, “51” represents vehicles registered from September 2001 to February 2002, while “03” represents vehicles registered from March 2003 to August 2003.

New Style Number Plate

The random letters and numbers sequence that follows the age identifier allows for a wide range of possible combinations. However, certain letter combinations that may be deemed offensive or inappropriate are excluded.

The new style number plates feature a modern and sleek design. The font style used is usually a modified version of the Charles Wright font, characterized by rounded and clear lettering. The letters and numbers are also narrower with a standardized size and spacing, contributing to enhanced legibility and aesthetics.

How To Decode A New Style Number Plate

Decoding the age identifier of a new style number plate is relatively straightforward once you understand the format and pattern. By referring to the specific six-month periods associated with each two-digit number, it becomes possible to determine the registration period of a vehicle. However, unlike the previous styles, the new style number plates do not provide direct information about the location of registration.

New Style Car Registration Years

Below is a table that displays all of the new style number plates from 2001 to 2025:

Plate Year From Year To
51 September 2001 February 2002
02 March 2002 August 2002
52 September 2002 February 2003
03 March 2003 August 2003
53 September 2003 February 2004
04 March 2004 August 2004
54 September 2004 February 2005
05 March 2005 August 2005
55 September 2005 February 2006
06 March 2006 August 2006
56 September 2006 February 2007
07 March 2007 August 2007
57 September 2007 February 2008
08 March 2008 August 2008
58 September 2008 February 2009
09 March 2009 August 2009
59 September 2009 February 2010
10 March 2010 August 2010
60 September 2010 February 2011
11 March 2011 August 2011
61 September 2011 February 2012
12 March 2012 August 2012
62 September 2012 February 2013
13 March 2013 August 2013
63 September 2013 February 2014
14 March 2014 August 2014
64 September 2014 February 2015
15 March 2015 August 2015
65 September 2015 February 2016
16 March 2016 August 2016
66 September 2016 February 2017
17 March 2017 August 2017
67 September 2017 February 2018
18 March 2018 August 2018
68 September 2018 February 2019
19 March 2019 August 2019
69 September 2019 February 2020
20 March 2020 August 2020
70 September 2020 February 2021
21 March 2021 August 2021
71 September 2021 February 2022
22 March 2022 August 2022
72 September 2022 February 2023
23 March 2023 August 2023
73 September 2023 February 2024
24 March 2024 August 2024
74 September 2024 February 2025

What About Dateless Number Plates?

Dateless number plates, as the name suggests, are car registration plates that do not contain any specific indication of the vehicle’s age. Unlike suffix, prefix or new style number plates, dateless plates do not feature a distinctive code or format that directly correlates to a particular year of registration. Instead, they consist of a combination of letters and numbers that are not tied to a specific timeframe.

Dateless number plates were used in the United Kingdom before the introduction of systematic age identifiers. They were typically issued from the early 1900s up until 1963 when the suffix style registration system was introduced. These plates have a timeless and classic appeal, making them highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts.

The format of dateless number plates varied but they typically featured a shorter combination of letters and numbers compared to the later registration styles. These plates were often handcrafted with individual registrations issued by local licensing authorities or vehicle registration offices. Due to their unique and customized nature, dateless number plates could often be transferred from one vehicle to another without indicating the age of the car.

Dateless Number Plate

One common format for dateless plates consisted of a pattern where letters and numbers were combined in a sequence. For example, a plate might read “ABC 123” or “1 ABD.” The arrangement of the letters and numbers did not follow any specific pattern related to the vehicle’s age or location.

Dateless number plates have a classic charm and are highly desirable among collectors and car enthusiasts due to their unique and often rare combinations. They offer a sense of personalization and individuality as each plate was issued separately without adhering to a standardized system.

Many dateless plates have historical significance and can be associated with iconic vehicles or notable figures. Therefore, if you ever come to selling a private plate, you may be quite shocked of their values.

Conclusion

Figuring out car registration years can be a difficult task if you are new to decoding them but once you’ve learnt how to do it, you’ll understand how clever each system is. The new style is deemed much easier to decode but when it comes to private number plates, dateless, prefix and suffix are the most desirable in the marketplace.

Hopefully our comprehensive guide to car registration years has answered all your questions. However, if not, feel free to get in touch and we will try to provide our assistance where possible.

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