What year is my car?

UK-car-number-plate

Your car’s number plate isn’t just a stream of nonsense. It actually means something – who would’ve thought? Let’s dive in.

We won’t bore you with a history lesson, but car registration plates have been around for a long time. Since 1903, in fact.

And while there have been several changes since then, their purpose remains the same.

Those eight numbers and letters reveal your car’s age and where it was registered.

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Car registration years

New registration plates are issued twice a year.

The age identifier changes on 1 March and 1 September every year and with it you can work out how old the car is.

Use the table below to work out how old your car is.

CAR REGISTRATION YEAR REGISTRATIONS FROM 1 MARCH TO AUGUST 31 REGISTRATIONS FROM 1 SEPTEMBER TO FEBRUARY 28/29
2001/02
 
51
2002/03
2
52
2003/04
3
53
2004/05
4
54
2005/06
5
55
2006/07
6
56
2007/08
7
57
2008/09
8
58
2009/10
9
59
2010/11
10
60
2011/12
11
61
2012/13
12
62
2013/14
13
63
2014/15
14
64
2015/16
15
65
2016/17
16
66
2017/18
17
67
2018/19
18
68
2019/20
19
69
2020/21
20
70
2021/22
21
71
2022/23
22
72
2023/24
23
73
2024/25
24
74
2025/26
25
75

Think of it like this:

  • March registration equals the year, so it is ‘20’ this year
  • September registration is the year plus 50, so it will be ‘70’ this year

 

What are the first two letters on my car number plate?

The first two letters tell you where your car was first registered.

The first letter is called the memory tag and is used to group one or more postcode areas. The second letter, called the local identifier, will specify which DVLA office your car was registered at. 

View the table to see where your car was first registered.

MEMORY TAG DVLA OFFICE LOCAL IDENTIFIER
A
Peterborough
A - N
 
Norwich
O - U
 
Ipswich
V - Y 
B
Birmingham 
A - Y 
C
Cardiff
A - O
 
Swansea
P - V
 
Bangor
W - Y 
D
Chester 
A - K
 
Shrewsbury 
L - Y
E
Chelmsford
A - Y 
F
Nottingham
A - P
 
Lincoln
R - Y 
G
Maidstone
A - O
 
Brighton
P - Y
H
Bournemouth
A - J
 
Portsmouth
K - Y
 
Isle of Wight 
W
K
Luton
A - L
 
Northampton
M - Y
L
Wimbledon
A - J 
 
Stanmore
K - T 
 
Sidcup
U - Y
M
Manchester 
A - Y 
N
Newcastle 
A - O
 
Stockton
P - Y
O
Oxford 
A - Y 
P
Preston
A - T
 
Carlisle
U - Y 
R
Reading
A - Y 
S
Glasgow
 A - J
 
Edinburgh
K - O
 
Dundee
P -T
 
Aberdeen
U -W
 
Inverness
X Y 
Worcester 
A - Y
W
Exeter 
A - J
 
Truro 
K L 
 
Bristol
M - Y
Leeds
A - K
 
Sheffield
L - U
 
Beverley 
V - Y

Car registration years pre-2001

Number plate systems before 2001 were completely different.

Cars registered between 1983-2001 used a prefix format, and those registered between 1962-1982 used a suffix format.

 

The suffix system – cars registered 1963-1982

The age identifier appears at the end of the plate, rather than at the beginning, and is a single letter.  

UK number plate suffix system

 

The prefix system – cars registered 1983-2001

This system consisted of a letter showing the age identifier at the start of the plate, random numbers and then an area code.

UK number plate prefix system

View the table below to see how old your car is if was part of the suffix or prefix system. 

The suffix and prefix system 

AGE IDENTIFIER SUFFIX SYSTEM PREFIX SYSTEM
A
1963
1983
B
1964
1984
C
1965
1985
D
1966
1986
E
1967
1987
F
1967
1988
G
1968
1989
H
1969
1990
J
1970
1991
K
1971
1992
L
1972
1993
M
1973
1994
N
1974
1995
P
1975
1996
R
1976
1997
S
1977
1998
T
1978
1999
V
1979
1999
W
1980
2000
X
1981
2000
Y
1982
2001

READ MORE: How to keep your number plate when you sell your car 

 

Flags on your number plate

National flags can be displayed alongside their identifier.

In the UK, the country flags are:

  • Union flag
  • Cross of St George
  • Cross of St Andrew / The Saltire
  • Y Ddraig Gogh / Red Dragon of Wales

These are the official country identifiers:

  • GREAT BRITAIN, Great Britain or GB
  • UNITED KINGDOM, United Kingdom or the UK
  • CYMRU, Cymru, CYM or Cym
  • ENGLAND, England, ENG, Eng
  • SCOTLAND, Scotland, SCO or Sco
  • WALES or Wales

 

What about the EU symbol on car number plates after Brexit?

If you have the EU symbol on your car registration plate, you won’t have to remove it now the UK has left the EU.

But if you’re driving in Europe without one, the DVLA say you must have an EU or GB flag on your number plate.

You can also have the UK’s other national flags on your number plate, but they must say which country you are from.

For example, if you have the Cross of St George, it must also say ENG too.

If you don’t have any flags on your number plate, you need to put a GB sticker on your car when driving on the continent.

All other number plate formats must also feature a GB sticker on the vehicle.

Now the UK has the left the EU, the rules may change. Of course, we’ll update you if this is the case.

 

When is the best time to buy a car?

As new number plates are issued in March and September, that’s when lots of used cars come on the market.

People trade up to get their hands on the new car registrations, which is why you’re more likely to find a good deal.

You can also consider buying a pre-registered car, which is essentially a new car, but self-registered by the dealership.

During March and September, dealerships have a lot of stock to shift.

So, in order to hit their sales targets, some sell new cars to themselves and then put it back on sale with a significant discount.

This system doesn’t apply to personalised plates as they’re an exception to the rules.