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Northern Irish number plates

Irish number plates, as used on UK cars, means Northern Irish plates. As Northern Ireland is part of the UK, registration numbers issued there may also be displayed on cars in England, Scotland and Wales.

Northern Irish number plates feature a group of letters followed by a number from 1 to 9999. There is no year identifier, so these Irish numbers are considered dateless. They are very popular, and cost-effective, as a way to hide the age of a car. Northern Irish numbers always contain the letter I or the letter Z as these are local code letters.

It used to be possible to export car registrations from the Republic of Ireland to the UK and then to register them on UK vehicles. In 1987 the rules changed and no more numbers could move from ROI to UK. However, ROI numbers that were exported to the UK before 1987 may still be transferred between UK cars.

Irish number plates provide a terrific solution to this annoying state of affairs. Irish plates do not contain obvious year codes in the same way as registrations from other parts of the UK do. This means that an Irish number plate is effectively dateless and will give no clue to the age of your still-shiny, nearly new car. Another very significant benefit of an Irish private number plate is that, as it is dateless, it can be assigned to a vehicle of any age. This is in stark contrast to plates issued to cars in England, Scotland and Wales that bear a year identifier. Those plates may only be displayed on vehicles first registered in or after the year indicated by the registration's year code. Irish plates offer a relatively inexpensive way of getting your own dateless registration.

While it is permitted to hide the age of a car with an Irish registration plate, it is not permitted to make an old car look younger by displaying a number plate with a misleading date code. On the other hand, if you want to make your car look older by assigning a plate with an older date code, well, that’s up to you.

How to buy dateless Irish number plates

Buying car registration plates from Northern Ireland used to be more complicated and unwieldy than buying an English, Scottish or Welsh registration, especially if the purchaser wanted the number on a car registration plate retention certificate. However, the process is now exactly the same as that for buying any UK registration. If anything, it is simpler as one doesn’t need to worry whether the registration is the right age to go on the car.

In conjunction with our finance partner V12 Retail Finance our finance offering is not available for customers based in the Republic of Ireland (ROI).

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Dateless Irish number plates

Irish number plate FAQs

Northern Ireland is part of the UK and vehicle registrations in Northern Ireland are issued and administered by DVLA. Therefore, number plates issued in Northern Ireland are completely legal to display on UK cars driven on the public highway in England, Scotland or Wales.

Although it used to be possible to transfer registration numbers from ROI to the UK, the rules changed in 1987 and since then it has not been permitted. It is, therefore, no longer possible to import or transfer vehicle registration numbers from ROI.

Registrations issued in the Republic that were transferred to UK vehicles before the 1987 change may still be used and may still be bought, sold and transferred just like other UK numbers.

Northern Irish number plates contain two groups of characters: a letters group and a numbers group. In a few registrations the numbers group appears first, but most are in the format of letters first then numbers.

In each registration number there is a two-letter location code containing either an I or a Z. Where a third letter is present it is a serial letter added to give more possible combinations. The numbers provide each registration's unique identifier. There can be up to four digits in the identifier number.

When you buy a Northern Ireland registration from Regtransfers, the transfer experience should be the same as with any other UK number plate.

Plates issued in Northern Ireland do not contain obvious year identifiers and so they are what we call "dateless plates". They are possibly the most cost-effective, legal way to conceal the age of a vehicle. Also, Northern Irish plates are noticeably different in format from those issued in the rest of the UK. Your Irish personal registration number will definitely stand out from the crowd if you drive in England, Scotland or Wales.

On the contrary. Irish number plates can be amongst the cheapest dateless registrations. Dateless plates issued in other parts of the UK are usually very old and quite hard to acquire, therefore, they command high prices. Dateless Northern Irish number plates are plentiful and are still being issued!

Got additional questions? Get them answered with our full frequently asked questions page.

The role of DVLA

Car registrations and number plates, including personalised number plates, in the UK, are the responsibility of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, usually known as the DVLA. It issues new registrations twice a year and also maintains the central database that records details of all vehicles licensed to drive on UK roads, along with their keeper and registration information.

Regtransfers works closely with DVLA to complete registration transfers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Regtransfers is a DVLA-registered supplier of personal car registrations and number plates and is listed on the DVLA Registrations website. All number plates supplied by Regtransfers comply with DVLA's prescribed standards and regulations.

DVLA administers all UK registration transfers and issues updated registration documents when the registration number of a car is changed, or when a registration is removed from a vehicle and placed on a retention document in accordance with the DVLA Retention Scheme.

DVLA is a registered trade mark of the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency. Regtransfers is not affiliated with the DVLA or DVLA Personalised Registrations. Regtransfers is a recognised reseller of unissued Government stock.

Number plate regulations

When a car is on the road, it is an offence to display number plates bearing any number other than the vehicle's officially recorded registration number. If you purchase a private registration, learn how to transfer private plates before displaying the new number.

All registration number plates displayed on UK vehicles must comply with the official number plate regulations. DVLA oversees enforcement of number plates display regulations and maintains a register of approved manufacturers and retailers of vehicle number plates.

Regtransfers is not part of, and is not formally affiliated with DVLA.

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