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Personalised Number Plates

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.

How Personalised Numberplates Work - 'Platespeak'

infographic showing how numbers may be used to represent letters to form words and names on personalised number plates

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.

Here are those character substitutions in text form.

plate speak

Use the converter below to convert your number into Roman Numerals


Roman Numeral equivalent »

For more information about buying a new registration and changing your number plate, please see our Help with buying number plates page.