Baby I got your, erm, number?

Once upon a time car numberplates used to reflect the location/area/district where the car was first registered, as well as identifying the year that the car was first registered (ask your dads, kids).

AAX 123X, for example, was originally registered in Monmouthshire in 1999.

And then, apparently, we were in danger of running out of available car registrations.

So the brains who run this kind of thing for the UK had to come up with a cunning plan.

After what one imagines to be a particularly boozy long lunch in the pub, one Thursday afternoon, the brains came up with a genius masterstroke.

The new registration numbers would look like this:

WP03HMG

Or like this:

WP53HMG

Brilliant!

Now, without too much thinking, the year of first registration is immediately apparent!

WP03HMG clearly signifies that the car was first registered in 2003.

Excellent.

And WP53HMG equally clearly signifies that the car was first registered in, erm, 2003!

But the second half of 2003, not the first half.

Yay!

And WP14HMG identifies that the car was first registered in 2014.

And WP64HMG very cleverly shows that the car was first registered, erm, in 2014 too.

Umm.

But the second half of 2014.

Obv.

Well this is all completely clear and transparent, yes?

I said yes??

Now, let’s look at the letters. HMG (in our guinea pig registration of WP14HMG) signifies nothing at all.

Or signifies nothing helpful.

It’s the two letters at the front that we’re interested in.

WP means, erm, Bristol.

Because W signifies ‘west of England’ and when suffixed with a ‘P’, that means Bristol.

It just does.

For the sake of transparency, obv.

You might have thought that BS14HMG would be better (because ‘BS’ is the actual postcode for, erm, Bristol).

Well yes, you might.

In fact, the vast majority of places in the UK have a two letter postcode.

Wouldn’t it have been fantastic to have that much transparency on a car registration?

Just use the postcodes?

But the brains who make these decisions shied away from this concept.

For reasons best known to themselves.

As is the frankly nonsensical method they came up with of denoting the year of registration.

So here, for those who don’t have brains the size of a planet, and for whom the transparency of our vehicle (because this actually applies to all registered vehicles and yes I know I’ve used the word ‘car’, but that’s because it’s quicker to write ‘car’ than it is to write ‘vehicle’, OK?), is a list of location identifiers for car registrations in the UK:

Car registration letters(DVLA) regionDVLA office
AA, AB, AC, AD, AE, AF, AG, AH, AJ, AK, AL, AM, AN(east) AngliaPeterborough
AO, AP, AR, AS, AT, AU(east) AngliaNorwich
AV, AW, AX, AY(east) AngliaIpswich
BA, BB, BC, BD, BE, BF, BG, BH, BJ, BK, BL, BM, BN, BO, BP, BR, BS, BT, BU, BV, BW, BX, BYBirminghamBirmingham
CA, CB, CC, CD, CE, CF, CG, CH, CJ, CK, CL, CM, CN, COCymruCardiff
CP, CR, CS, CT, CU, CVCymruSwansea
CW, CX, CYCymruBangor
DA, DB, DC, DD, DE, DF, DG, DH, DJ, DKDeeside to ShrewsburyChester
DL, DM, DN, DO, DP, DR, DS, DT, DU, DV, DW, DX, DYDeeside to ShrewsburyShrewsbury
EA, EB, EC, ED, EE, EF, EG, EH, EJ, EK, EL, EM, EN, EO, EP, ER, ES, ET, EU, EV, EW, EX, EYEssexChelmsford
FA, FB, FC, FD, FE, FF, FG, FH, FJ, FK, FL, FM, FN, FPForest and FensNottingham
FR, FS, FT, FV, FW, FX, FYForest and FensLincoln
GA, GB, GC, GD, GE, GF, GG, GH, GJ, GK, GL, GM, GN, GOGarden of EnglandMaidstone
GP, GR, GS, GT, GU, GV, GX, GYGarden of EnglandBrighton
HA, HB, HC, HD, HE, HF, HG, HH, HJHampshire and DorsetBournemouth
HK, HL, HM, HN, HO, HP, HR, HS, HT, HU, HVHampshire and DorsetPortsmouth
HWHampshire and DorsetPortsmouth (Used exclusively for the Isle of Wight)
HX, HYHampshire and DorsetPortsmouth
KA, KB, KC, KD, KE, KF, KG, KH, KJ, KK, KL-Luton
KM, KN, KO, KP, KR, KS, KT, KU, KV, KW, KX, KY-Northampton
LA, LB, LC, LD, LE, LF, LG, LH, LJLondonWimbledon
LK, LL, LM, LN, LO, LP, LR, LS, LTLondonStanmore
LU, LV, LW, LX, LYLondonSidcup
MA, MB, MC, MD, ME, MF, MG, MH, MJ, MK, ML, MM, MN, MO, MP, MR, MS, MT, MU, MV, MW, MX, MYManchester & MerseysideManchester
NA, NB, NC, ND, NE, NF, NG, NH, NJ, NK, NL, NM, NN, NONorthNewcastle
NP, NR, NS, NT, NU, NV, NW, NX, NYNorthStockton
OA, OB, OC, OD, OE, OF, OG, OH, OJ, OK, OL, OM, ON, OO, OP, OR, OS, OT, OU, OV, OW, OX, OYOxfordOxford
PA, PB, PC, PD, PE, PF, PG, PH, PJ, PK, PL, PM, PN, PO, PP, PR, PS, PTPrestonPreston
PU, PV, PW, PX, PYPrestonCarlisle
RA, RB, RC, RD, RE, RF, RG, RH, RJ, RK, RL, RM, RN, RO, RP, RR, RS, RT, RU, RV, RW, RX, RYReadingReading
SA, SB, SC, SD, SE, SF, SG, SH, SJScotlandGlasgow
SK, SL, SM, SN, SOScotlandEdinburgh
SP, SR, SS, STScotlandDundee
SU, SV, SWScotlandAberdeen
SX, SYScotlandInverness
VA, VB, VC, VD, VE, VF, VG, VH, VJ, VK, VL, VM, VN, VO, VP, VR, VS, VT, VU, VV, VW, VX, VYSevern ValleyWorcester
WA, WB, WC, WD, WE, WF, WG, WH, WJWest of EnglandExeter
WK, WLWest of EnglandTruro
WM, WN, WO, WP, WR, WS, WT, WU, WV, WW, WX, WYWest of EnglandBristol
YA, YB, YC, YD, YE, YF, YG, YH, YJ, YKYorkshireLeeds
YL, YM, YN, YO, YP, YR, YS, YT, YUYorkshireSheffield
YV, YW, YX, YYYorkshireBeverley

So that’s the geographical bit.

Do you want a handy decoder for the year of registration ‘clarity’ too?

You do?

Well try this:

Year1 Mar – 31 Aug1 Sep – 28/29 Feb
2001/02Y51
2002/030252
2003/040353
2004/050454
2005/060555
2006/070656
2007/080757
2008/090858
2009/100959
2010/111060
2011/121161
2012/131262
2013/141363
2014/151464
2015/161565
2016/171666
2017/181767
2018/191868
2019/201969
2020/212070
2021/222171
2022/232272
2023/242373
2024/252474
2025/262575
2026/272676
2027/282777
2028/292878
2029/302979
2030/313080
2031/323181
2032/333282
2033/343383
2034/353484
2035/363585
2036/373686
2037/383787
2038/393888
2039/403989
2040/414090
2041/424191
2042/434292
2043/444393
2044/454494
2045/464595
2046/474696
2047/484797
2048/494898
2049/504999
2050/515000

Clear now?

Of course it is.

You’re welcome.

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One Response to Baby I got your, erm, number?

  1. Masher says:

    I’ve oft wondered about the ‘new’ number plate system. Never really managed to get my head round it.
    I did read up on it when it first come out and kind of understood why they did it that way, but still thought it overly complicated and totally nonsensical.
    My views haven’t changed as a result of this post, but thanks anyway.