car registration labels explained

Car registration years – a complete guide to understanding number plates

Working out how old a car is based on its registration plate used to be relatively easy, with the first letter of a car registration being used to denote the year it was registered.

This process started in 1983 (before then the letters were used as a suffix on the number plate), and ran all the way to 2001. From 2001 car registration years have been signified by numbers which denote the year they were registered.

How old is my car? – see the full list of car registration years below to work out how old your car is…

  • A reg year – 1963
  • B reg year – 1964
  • C reg year – 1965
  • D reg year – 1966
  • E / F reg year – 1967
  • F / G reg year – 1968
  • G / H reg year – 1969
  • H / J reg year – 1970
  • J / K reg year – 1971
  • K / L reg year – 1972
  • L / M reg year – 1973
  • M / N reg year – 1974
  • N / P reg year – 1975
  • P / R reg year – 1976
  • R / S reg year – 1977
  • S / T reg year – 1978
  • T / V reg year – 1979
  • V / W reg year – 1980
  • W / X reg year – 1981
  • X / Y reg year – 1982
  • Y / A reg year – 1983
  • A / B reg year – 1984
  • B / C reg year – 1985
  • C / D reg year – 1986
  • D / E reg year – 1987
  • E / F reg year – 1988
  • F / G reg year – 1989
  • G / H reg year – 1990
  • H / J reg year – 1991
  • J / K reg year – 1992
  • K / L reg year – 1993
  • L / M reg year – 1994
  • M / N reg year – 1995
  • N / P reg year – 1996
  • P / R reg year – 1997
  • R / S reg year – 1998
  • S / T / V reg year – 1999
  • V / W / X reg year – 2000
  • X / Y / 51 reg year – 2001
  • 02 / 52 reg year – 2002
  • 03 / 53 reg year – 2003
  • 04 / 54 reg year – 2004
  • 05 / 55 reg year – 2005
  • 06 / 56 reg year – 2006
  • 07 / 57 reg year – 2007
  • 08 / 58 reg year – 2008
  • 09 / 59 reg year – 2009
  • 10 / 60 reg year – 2010
  • 11 / 61 reg year – 2011
  • 12 / 62 reg year – 2012
  • 13 / 63 reg year – 2013
  • 14 / 64 reg year – 2014
  • 15 / 65 reg year – 2015
  • 16 / 66 reg year – 2016

How does the new car registration plate system work?

Before, registration plates had a letter that designated the year it was registered then three letters that were entirely random. Then there were three more letters at the end, two of which would denote the area the vehicle was registered.

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Example of an ‘old’ car registration: A653 GHD

Now the car registration system uses two numbers to denote the year of registration, which are preceded by two letters which show where the car was registered.

The final three letters on the new plates are entirely random.

Here’s how it’s all broken down

  • Local memory tag – The first two letters show where the vehicle was registered. The first letter represents the region and the second references which specific DVLA local office.
  • Age identifier – The two numbers that follow the local memory tag represent the age of the vehicle rounded down to a six month period – March-August or September-February as the age identifier changes on 1 March and 1 September.
  • Random letters – The last three letters are random and are used to make sure each car has a unique identity.

Example of current car registration: LA55 RSF

When do new number plates come out?

New number plates are released twice a year – on 1 March and 1 September. On 1 March vehicles are registered with the year – i.e. 16 for 2016, and on 1 September vehicles are registered with the year plus 50 – i.e. 64 for 2014.

The new number plates then run for six months – rather than the old system which only released new registrations once a year at a set date.

This led to new car buyers waiting until August to buy, meaning car dealers would see lower sales of new cars for the rest of the year.

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