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.