Car Registrations Explained

Why do we need to have vehicle number plates?

Vehicle registration numbers are needed to identify the owner of a car, this is useful in an event of an accident or a crime. The government can then use the number plate to track down the owner and take appropriate actions.

It is important to note that number plates are issued to the vehicle and not the registered keeper. This will stay with the vehicle until it is scrapped, destroyed or exported out of the country. However if you would like to keep a number plate, you can do so by putting the vehicle reg on another vehicle or retain it by applying for a V778 retention certificate.

How do you get number plate?

There are many ways you can obtain a vehicle registration number (VRM), You can obtain a VRN when you purchase a vehicle. If you’re looking for something personal you can also purchase a personalised number plate through the DVLA or any other VRN dealer.

When you buy a personalised number plate you buy the rights to put it on any vehicle registered to yourself or someone else you may nominate. It is important to know that if you do sell a vehicle that has a personalised plate, it will stay on with the vehicle unless you apply to take it off and put it on another vehicle. Alternatively can also retain the number plate using a VV778 certificate if you don’t have a vehicle to transfer it to.

What do the letters on a license plate mean?

At first glance it may look like a bunch of gibberish characters but when DVLA issue a number plate it actually follows a clear format. This format was introduced on the 1st of September 2001. Here’s what the characters on your number plate mean:

  • First two letters (Memory Tag) – This refers to the region of the country where it was first registered. See the full list of regions.
  • Two numbers (Age Identifier) – The numbers tell you what year the vehicle was registered in
  • Last three letters (Random letters) – These are just chosen at random
UK reg plate explained

Laws around displaying vehicle number plates correctly

There are strict laws around how your vehicle number plate should be displayed, these are set out in the Road Vehicles Display of Registration Marks Regulations. These strict regulations govern how your number plate must be design and displayed.

You cannot rearrange or misrepresent the letters or numbers on the vehicle registration plate so they are hard to read. For example adding spaces or bolts to form names or words. Doing so is illegal and can cost you a hefty fine up to £1,000.

If you drive around with incorrectly displayed registration you will fail your MOT and in some cases the vehicle registration may be permanently withdrawn. If this happens you will not be reimbursed for any money you have paid for the vehicle registration number or any other costs you may have had to pay!

Finally, you cannot use a registration number to make your car look younger than it actually is.

UK number plate rules and laws

List of all DVLA registration regions

Anglia

View A reg vehicles that were registered in Anglia.

Peterborough
Norwich
Ipswich

Birmingham

View B reg vehicles that were registered in Birmingham.

Birmingham

Cymru (Wales)

View C reg vehicles that were registered in Cymru (Wales).

Cardiff
Swansea
Bangor
CW CX CY

Deeside

View D reg vehicles that were registered in Deeside.

Chester
Shrewsbury

Essex

View E reg vehicles that were registered in Essex.

Chelmsford

Forest & Fens

View F reg vehicles that were registered in Forest & Fens.

Nottingham
Lincoln

Garden of England (Kent)

View G reg vehicles that were registered in Garden of England (Kent).

Maidstone
Brighton

Hampshire & Dorset

View H reg vehicles that were registered in Hampshire & Dorset.

Bournemouth
Portsmouth

Luton/Northampton

View K reg vehicles that were registered in Luton/Northampton.

Borehamwood
Northampton

London

View L reg vehicles that were registered in London.

Wimbledon
Borehamwood
Sidcup

Manchester & Merseyside

View M reg vehicles that were registered in Manchester & Merseyside.

Manchester

North

View N reg vehicles that were registered in North.

Newcastle
Stockton

Oxford

View O reg vehicles that were registered in Oxford.

Oxford

Preston

View P reg vehicles that were registered in Preston.

Preston
Carlisle

Reading

View R reg vehicles that were registered in Reading.

Theale

Scotland

View S reg vehicles that were registered in Scotland.

Glasgow
Edinburgh
Dundee
Aberdeen
SU SV SW
Inverness
SX SY

Worcester

View V reg vehicles that were registered in Worcester.

Worcester

West of England

View W reg vehicles that were registered in West of England.

Exeter
Truro
WK WL
Bristol

Yorkshire

View Y reg vehicles that were registered in Yorkshire.

Leeds
Sheffield
Beverley