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Registration Plates - More than just a number!

The UK has had to make various changes to its system of car registration plates over the years. This has been due to a number of considerations: first and foremost the volume of traffic and the sheer number of cars and other vehicles on British roads has grown far beyond what was ever imagined or planned for when car registration plates were first introduced. Additionally, the issuing authority has decided that various information should be displayed in the sequence of numbers and letters on the number plates our cars bear.

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The first generation of registration plates as used by the original system which began in the early 1900s consisted of a letter code which identified the regional authority which issued the plate and a number which identified the individual vehicle. There was no easily recognisable indicator of the date of issue or the age of the vehicle. With the two subsequent forms of mark, the year of issue was indicated by a letter at the end of the sequence (a 'suffix' registration plate) or, later, a letter at the beginning of the sequence (a 'prefix' registration plate).

Although the registration plates format changed yet again in 2001, the same basic information is there to see. There is still a letter code indication the area in which the number plate was issued, followed by a number code specifying the year of issue and finally a unique indentifier - three random letters which apply to, and identify, the individual vehicle.

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