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Number plate news around the world: February 2024


Your regular concise roundup of world number plate news from home and abroad.

Leeds council hopes to sell coveted U 1 number plate

Leeds Council's striking U 1 car registration was originally issued in the city in 1903. Its owner, one Mr Rowland Winn, gave it as a gift to his friend Arthur Currer Biggs, upon the latter's election to the office of Lord Mayor of Leeds. The registration has been used on the Lord Mayor's civic vehicle ever since.

Although he had given the number to Mr Biggs for use on the Mayor's car, Mr Winn's acquaintance with U 1 was renewed in the late 1930s when he also became Lord Mayor of Leeds. Mr Winn, a founding member of the Automobile Association, was awarded Freedom of the City of Leeds in 1956 in recognition of his service to the community.

This piece of local motoring history may soon be sold to raise funds for the council. Although the current custodians would, no doubt be sad to part with it, there is no question that the potential revenue from such a sale could be substantial. In fact, Regtransfers places a cautious estimate of up to £500k on the historic plate. If the council's plan to sell U 1 is approved, the Mayor's car would, instead, bear the number L6 EDS.

We can't help wondering what Messrs Winn and Biggs would make of the sale. Would they be disappointed to see U 1's association with the Lord Mayor of Leeds come to an end? Or would they approve of the registration's disposal to raise money to help fund the council's work in these times of tight budgets and rocketing costs?

Sales of plates owned by councils and/or displayed on local dignitaries cars are often controversial, but councils have to raise money somehow, and as we have seen so many times, top quality registrations, and those with historical significance, can raise a lot of money.

Hungary's green plate revolution

The UK isn't the only country to offer green number plates as an incentive to encourage reduction of internal combustion emissions. Hungary has its own green plates, but the scheme there differs considerably from what we have in Britain.

In the UK, "green" number plates are standard plates with a green panel or flash on the left hand side. Our green number plates may only be displayed on zero tailpipe-emissions vehicles which, in practical terms, means fully electric. Hybrid vehicles are not eligible to display the UK's green plates. In Hungary, the entitlement to display green number plates extends to hybrid vehicles as well as fully electric EVs.

The numbers of both vehicle types have grown quickly since the beginning of the decade. In 2020 there were 17,000 EVs and HEVs displaying green plates on Hungary's roads: in 2024 that figure has risen to 88,000, 50,000 of which are fully electric.

The UK government may feel that only completely emission-free electric vehicles should display green plates, but there is one aspect of the Hungarian scheme that is definitely greener than our own: where we have just a green flash at the side of the plate, Hungary's version makes the entire plate background green!

The combinations banned by Florida's number plate censors

In our last news roundup, we reported the rejection of vanity plate applications for numbers that were deemed unsuitable for release. Well, Texas and Missouri are evidently not the only states to keep a wary eye on the character combinations their citizens would like to display on their cars' number plates. Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has revealed a host of registrations from the applications they received and rejected.

Although we will let you decode the following registrations for yourselves, some of them would clearly offend some people. Reading these plates is easy enough, as American vanity plates can often contain just letters, meaning there are no substituted numbers to translate.

As one might expect, personal and suxual references accounted for a large proportion of the rejected applications. ERECT 10, FATHOSE, BGWANG, and B1GDK did not impress the censors. SEX DOC, WET YET, SUK ME and L0V SEX fared no better, and LIL WEWE received no sympathy. Neither SHVD KTY nor MS SEXXY found any friends at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Criminal and anti-police references may have been popular amongst applicants but they proved less so amongst the department's censors. Predictably, KIDNAPN, ON METH, MR DUI, C0NMAN 8, 9 GLOCK and MURRDER and C0PS LIE were all rejected. Other plainly objectionable examples, such as SWASTIK and TRNS KLR were also firmly rejected.

The application for SAY GAAY stood little chance thanks to the ongoing ideological conflict over Florida's Parental Rights in Education Act, commonly referred to as the "Don't Say Gay" law. The act contains prohibitions on teaching about, or discussing, sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools. It also makes schools liable for any lawsuits brought by parents if the school doesn't share with parents any information a student may disclose regarding their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Florida's plate censorship process has two stages, one at local office level and a subsequent check by the state. Nevertheless, controversial vanity plates do sometimes make it through the application process. Should those be identified later then, as in the UK, the registrations can be withdrawn retrospectively and taken off the road.

Number plate cloning could cost you your car!

A Hertfordshire man very nearly had his car sold off by Transport for London because his number plates were cloned and used by someone to drive in London's ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) without paying.

Bouchaib Moussaid is a care worker who lives in St Albans. Mr Moussaid was shocked to receive penalty notices incurred by the driver using copies of his number plates, but he informed TfL of the situation and provided evidence that it had not been him or his car that had transgressed 12 times as the penalty notices claimed.

At the time of the offences, Mr Moussaid's car was off the road and covered by a SORN notice, and the man himself was busily engaged in his care work, not driving around London. In fact, Mr Moussaid has never driven the car in London. Nevertheless, despite statements from a neighbour confirming his innocence, photographs showing clear differences between Mr Moussaid's car and the vehicle bearing the cloned plates, and the fact that the police had been informed of the cloning, Mr Moussaid car was seized by bailiffs acting for TfL and was set to be auctioned off. It was only an intervention by The Guardian newspaper that eventually stopped the sale and prompted an apology from TfL.

Even when drivers do everything right, number plate cloning is still becoming more common. If you suspect that your number plate has been cloned, make sure you inform the authorities immediately and gather what evidence you can to establish the whereabouts of you and your car at the times of any alleged offences. For further information see our number plate cloning information page.

Number plate news around the world

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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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