Car Number Plates Explained

As the new 18-plate replaces the 67-plate on the 1 March 2018 we thought we would explain the confusion around the current car number plate system – as well as the old – and how you calculate the age of your car.

Current number plate system

The current system was introduced in 2001, changes twice annually on the first day of March and September, and is made up of three parts, as follows:

Current Example: YY14 YCV

1. The first two letters of your car number plate represent where it was registered. The first letter is for the region and second for the local DVLA office i.e. Yorkshire and York.

2. The two numbers following this are an age identifier, changed every 6 months at the beginning of March and September. March represents the year and September the year plus 50 i.e. March 2014 = 14 and September 2014 = 64.

3. The last three letters are chosen randomly and provide the vehicle with a unique identity.

This system is expected to run until 2051.

What was the old number plate system?

The old ‘prefix’ number plate system began in August 1983 as an annual plate change. In 1999 this was updated every six months which then continued as the new system came into action in 2001.

Prefix Example: A 678 WRL

1. The first letter shown was the age identifier and represented the year the car was registered i.e. A = 1983.

2. The three numbers following were chosen randomly.

3. Two of the final three letters represented the area of the registration of the vehicle, while the other was a randomly chosen letter.

Prior to this, there was a ‘suffix’ number plate system from 1963-1983, which worked in a similar way to the ‘prefix’ system – the letter which identified the year i.e. A was at the end of the number plate, rather than at the beginning. The registration year first ran from 1 January to 31 December up until 1967 when it was moved to 1 August.

How can I calculate the age of my car?

The table below shows the full list of number plate years and their age identifier so you can calculate the age of your car:

Suffix system
1963-1983
Prefix system
1983-2001
Current system
2001-present 
1963 A1983 Y/A2001 X/Y/51
1964 B1984 A/B2002 02/52
1965 C1985 B/C2003 03/53
1966 D1986 C/D2004 04/54
1967 E/F1987 D/E2005 05/55
1968 F/G1988 E/F2006 06/56
1969 G/H1989 F/G2007 07/57
1970 H/J1990 G/H2008 08/58
1971 J/K1991 H/J2009 09/59
1972 K/L1992 J/K2010 10/60
1973 L/M1993 K/L2011 11/61
1974 M/N1994 L/M2012 12/62
1975 N/P1995 M/N2013 13/63
1976 P/R1996 N/P2014 14/64
1977 R/S1997 P/R2015 15/65
1978 S/T1998 R/S2016 16/66
1979 T/V1999 S/T/V2017 17/67
1980 V/W2000 V/W/X2018 18/68
1981 W/X2001 X/Y/51
1982 X/Y
1983 Y/A

If you’re looking to buy a new car, we have some fantastic offers currently available on brand new 18-plate cars here at JCT600. Or if you’re in the market to buy a used car from us, start your search here to find your perfect car today.

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