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A Guide to Number Plates

A Guide to Number Plates

Number plates are used to identify a vehicle, and while you own that vehicle, you become the registered keeper. But if you sell the car in most cases, the number plate goes with the car and finds a new owner. Understanding how number plates work gives you quite a lot of information about a vehicle, although this doesnt work in the same way if you are looking at a personalised plate. But this information relates to the main number plate system of cars in the UK.

Format Changes

old style number plate

Depending on your age you may be able to remember more than one number plate format. The current format for UK plates is a group of four characters, two letters and two numbers and then a separate group of three numbers. This has been the case since 2001, and there is meaning to the first group of four. The letters identify where the vehicle was registered while the two letters show the age of the car. The last group of three letters are randomly assigned and issued to dealerships so each vehicle can be individually identified.

New Plates

new style number plate

Every calendar year features two new releases of vehicles, therefore the introduction of two new number plate patterns each year. March 1st is the first wave of cars for a new year while September 1st marks the introduction of the second group of new vehicles. The identifying feature is the first two numbers, the first group for the year simply take the year itself, so for cars registered from 1/03/19-31/08/19 will have 19 as the age identifier meaning the car was first registered as road legal in 2019. From 01/10/19 until the new year in 2020 begins on March 1st, 50 is added to the year making the second wave of 2019 cars identifiable by the number 69.

Why Issue Two a Year?

The reason behind two plates is actually merely a supply and demand issue in the modern world. More and more cars are sold each year, and there needs to be a sensible way to track what is coming into circulation each year. There also has to be the storage space within dealerships and storage lots for manufacturers. There are too many vehicles needed to just cope with one release a year. Cars are often in demand more thanks to finance deals which sees people able to purchase a new car every three years and this has added to demand.

For many customers, the newest car is the crucial feature, so if they are not ready in March to purchase a new vehicle, they will wait for September to get the latest offering. If you are not as concerned with this, you can often get a good deal in February or August as dealers want to clear space for the newest releases, but also June and December as dealerships tend to work on quarterly sales. So unless you are set on getting a car the day, it is released; these are good times to shop around and look for bargains.

A Guide to Number Plates

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