Cracking the Code
Some vehicle number plates, by design or by coincidence, may be seen as conveying something about their owners. These, especially the ones where the effect is deliberate, are known as personal or personalised number plates. They may resemble words or names, they may contain initials or birth dates. The possibilities are limited only by the owners’ imaginations and the number plate display regulations. You may hear alternative terms used: private number plates, cherished number plates, personal plates and so on, but they all describe much the same thing: a number chosen because it conveys meaning beyond its originally intended purpose of identifying a vehicle.
UK car registrations formats don’t permit more than three actual letters to appear consecutively without intervening numbers, so a little improvisation with numbers can be necessary in order to represent names and words on personalised number plates. This is achieved by combining actual letters with numbers that (in context) resemble letters. Far from being a limitation, this is all part of the fun!
To illustrate the principle, consider the registration number H34 VEN. If one allows that the 3 looks like a reversed letter E, and that a 4 can look like an A, then a seemingly random string of characters becomes the word “HEAVEN” – an appropriate personalised number plate for a clergyman, perhaps. Similarly, consider B16 DAY. The number one is the same shape as the letter I, and with a little imagination one could easily allow the number 6 to represent the letter G. “BIG DAY” would, therefore, be a fine registration for a limousine hire company that specialised in wedding cars.
At Regtransfers, we call this language of personal registrations “Platespeak”. Our infographic, above, sets out some of the popular ways of using numbers to represent letters, and shows examples of genuine personalised numbers that employ these principles.
Celebrity Personalised Plates Show Platespeak in Action
Let’s look at the personalised number plates that have been owned by a few of the celebrities who have appeared in our free magazine and see how they have used the language of Platespeak to get their messages across.
Celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke styled the numbers 4 and 1 into the perfect “hairdo” car registration.
TV chef and fast car fan James Martin is another celeb whose area of speciality was obvious from just a glance at his 6 HEF registration. In context, the 6 does a fine job of representing the letter C.
Amir Khan’s boxing themed registration was just champion, just like Amir himself. A clever use of the number 1 on this plate.
Famous entrepreneur and TV dragon Theo Paphitis found that the number 4 made a great letter A when pushing one of his most well known brands, Ryman the stationers.
Popular, multi-genre British singer and all-round nice chap Russell Watson defined his vocal range on his “tenor” car registration.
Convert your number into roman numerals
Here’s a summary of those character substitutions in text form.
- 0 = O or D
- 1 = I or L
- 2 = R or Z
- 3 = E
- 4 = A
- 5 = S
- 6 = G, B or O
- 7 = T or Y
- 8 = B, O or A
- 9 = G or O
- 11 = H, N or U
- 12 = R
- 13 = B
- 1V = N
- D = O
- VV = W
- V = U
For more information about buying a new registration and changing your number plate, please see our Help with buying number plates page.