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Let's start off by making it clear that when we say, "Irish" number plates we specifically mean registrations from Northern Ireland - which is, of course, part of the UK and thus under the supervision of DVLA where car registrations are concerned. Vehicle registrations from The Republic of Ireland may not be assigned to UK registered vehicles and so fall outside the scope of this article.
For generations, a prominent feature of number plates issued to vehicles in England, Scotland and Wales has been the year-identifier code. Old suffix and prefix numbers had a year letter, while the current, "infix" style registrations have a numeric year code. Many drivers find this frustrating as it means that a shiny new car may stay shiny, but its number plate will stop it looking new within a few months. (For more information on car registrations formats please see the linked explanatory page.)
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.
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.
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 plates retention certificate. However, since responsibility for registrations and plates passed from DVLNI to DVLA, 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 about choosing a number appropriate (and legal) for the age of one’s car.
Check out our great selection of dateless Irish number plates.