plate changes from September 2021
Understanding classic car number plates
It is relatively straightforward with the lettering giving clues to
both the location of the registration of the plate and the year. Modern
plates often leave many puzzled so alongside we have an explanation
of modern number plates together with news of car registration
and number plate changes made in 2021.
Changes in September 2021
The September number plate changes have been made to make it easier
for police to scan number plates using ANPR (Automatic Number Plate
Recognition) cameras. The changes to number plates launched at the
start of September 2021 include some features which make it easier
for police to scan the plate.
Displaying number plates
See the DVLA rukes guide on the GOV.UK website. More
Flags, symbols and identifiers
Driving outside the UK
See the DVLA rukes guide on the GOV.UK website. More
Getting number plates made up
See the DVLA guide on the GOV.UK website. More
Buy a personalised registration number
You can buy a personalised registration for your number plates from
DVLA online or at auction. Search online to see which numbers are
available and how much they cost.
Redesigned number plates which display a UK under
a Union flag on the left-hand side of the number plate so they could
be used to drive on the Continent.
modern number plates
First two letters
They show where the car was first registered. In "DVLA
speak" they are called a memory tag
as a location identifier for where the car is first registered.
Even though the system is now centralised with DVLA, dealers
still tend to be allocated registration numbers that reflect
their traditional area code - for example if you are buying
a new car from a London dealership, you will almost certainly
be allocated a number plate starting with an L. Other
regions of England have their own letter codes: cars registered
in Yorkshire start with the letter Y, in Hampshire start
with an H, and so on. If youre buying a new car
in Scotland, it will almost certainly start with an S.
For cars registered in Wales, it will start with a C
The numbers show in which six-month period the car was first
registered. The numbers change every six months, in March and
September. The March codes are easy to remember as they follow
the year of registration - so a car registered between March
and August in 2021 will have the number 21, a car that was
registered between March and August 2005 has the number 05,
and so on. For s car registered between September and February
it is slightly more complicated. The numeric code equals the
year (as of September) plus 50. So a car registered from September
2021 until February 2022 will have the number 71 (= 21 + 50).
A car registered in September 2006 February 2007 has
the number 56 (=06 + 50), and so on. In theory, this system
will run until we get to February 2051 unless a future UK Government
changes it before then.
Random letters are the last three letters on the plate
The last three letters are officially random. In practice, dealerships
are allocated batches of registration numbers, so your local
dealer will probably have a run of consecutive numbers. When
they have used up all of that allocation, they will be assigned
another batch. So its not technically random, but close
nonetheless. The letters I and Q are not used because they can
be confused with 1 and 0 or O, and the DVLA withholds any combinations
that may be considered offensive or sweary they don't
give any examples but you can use your imagination.
They are a whole different story and are not covered here, but
again the DVLA will censor anything it considers inappropriate
Differnt fonts and spacing on a number plate
It is illegal to use different fonts or to space the letters
in any way other than illustrated above, despite the fact that
thousands of car owners do it. It is also illegal to alter the
digits or strategically use mounting screws to make the plates
look like they read something different. Again, this is poorly
enforced and the fines are paltry.
Every year when new
number plates are registered in March and September in the UK
part of the format of the plate changes. In 2021 cars registered
between 1st March 2021 31st August 2021 were issued with
21 number plates and then new car registrations
between 1st September 2021 28th February 2022 will get
71 plates. What is
different this year is that the technical standard for all new
number plates registered after 1st September 2021 has been revised.
The 71 plates will replace the old BS
AU 145d standard which has been in use since September 2001
and instead we will have BS AU 145e to meet the new British
Standard for Retroreflective Number Plates. The main
benefit of the new 145e standard plates is that they are more
durable. The plates are made from tougher material and need
to pass 10 tests including the newly added abrasion test,
which checks if the number plates can withstand damage from
debris like road salt and dirt.
The new number plates can only display solid black lettering.
Two-tone number plates that used different shades to create
a 3D or 4D effect have been banned. The lettering can still
be Perspex or acrylic lettering, provided it meets all other
requirements. They must, however, be black and cannot have different
colour sides. This will help make plates more readable for the
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras. The
DVLA use ANPR cameras to catch lawbreakers and detect offenders
like unlicensed vehicles. The new number plates will also have
to include the suppliers business name and postcode, along
with the name of the number plate manufacturer and display the
new standard, BS AU 145e.
Changes to historic black and silver number plates
From 1st January 2021 the DVLA banned all vehicles manufactured
on or after 1st January 1980 from displaying the historic black
and silver number plates, reducing options to the modern white/yellow
reflective plates only. According to the regulations, only vehicles
manufactured before 1st January 1980 and those registered with
the historic vehicle tax class can use the black
and silver plates. Vehicles older than 40 years are eligible
to be classed under the historic vehicle tax group
so they are then exempt from vehicle excise duty or road tax.
Many classic car owners have been keen to get historic black
and silver number plates for the car - some to restore the style
of plate their classic car would have had when new but other
owners have sought athat style of plate for car built in the
mid 1970s and later presumably to gain the classic car look.
Changes to the use of the GB flag in Europe
Prior to Brexit, the British number plates featured a circle
of EU stars with the letters GB underneath. They
could be used to travel and drive abroad as well. On
31st January 2021, a year after Brexit, transport secretary
Grant Shapps unveiled the redesigned number plates which displayed
GB for Great Britain under a Union flag on the left-hand
side of the number plates so they could be used to drive on
the Continent. Shortly
after a re-design was announced replacing the GB
designation which has been in use for the past 111 years, with
the letters UK to include Northern Ireland. The
new registration plates design comes into effect from 28th September
A new UK
sticker or magnet can be easily purchased online, in post offices
and in garages to mke that change, or you could apply for new
UK number plates to comply with the latest changes.
From 1st January
2021, the EU flag identifier is not permitted on UK number plates.