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:
Or like this:
Now, without too much thinking, the year of first registration is immediately apparent!
WP03HMG clearly signifies that the car was first registered in 2003.
And WP53HMG equally clearly signifies that the car was first registered in, erm, 2003!
But the second half of 2003, not the first half.
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.
But the second half of 2014.
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) region||DVLA office|
|AA, AB, AC, AD, AE, AF, AG, AH, AJ, AK, AL, AM, AN||(east) Anglia||Peterborough|
|AO, AP, AR, AS, AT, AU||(east) Anglia||Norwich|
|AV, AW, AX, AY||(east) Anglia||Ipswich|
|BA, BB, BC, BD, BE, BF, BG, BH, BJ, BK, BL, BM, BN, BO, BP, BR, BS, BT, BU, BV, BW, BX, BY||Birmingham||Birmingham|
|CA, CB, CC, CD, CE, CF, CG, CH, CJ, CK, CL, CM, CN, CO||Cymru||Cardiff|
|CP, CR, CS, CT, CU, CV||Cymru||Swansea|
|CW, CX, CY||Cymru||Bangor|
|DA, DB, DC, DD, DE, DF, DG, DH, DJ, DK||Deeside to Shrewsbury||Chester|
|DL, DM, DN, DO, DP, DR, DS, DT, DU, DV, DW, DX, DY||Deeside to Shrewsbury||Shrewsbury|
|EA, EB, EC, ED, EE, EF, EG, EH, EJ, EK, EL, EM, EN, EO, EP, ER, ES, ET, EU, EV, EW, EX, EY||Essex||Chelmsford|
|FA, FB, FC, FD, FE, FF, FG, FH, FJ, FK, FL, FM, FN, FP||Forest and Fens||Nottingham|
|FR, FS, FT, FV, FW, FX, FY||Forest and Fens||Lincoln|
|GA, GB, GC, GD, GE, GF, GG, GH, GJ, GK, GL, GM, GN, GO||Garden of England||Maidstone|
|GP, GR, GS, GT, GU, GV, GX, GY||Garden of England||Brighton|
|HA, HB, HC, HD, HE, HF, HG, HH, HJ||Hampshire and Dorset||Bournemouth|
|HK, HL, HM, HN, HO, HP, HR, HS, HT, HU, HV||Hampshire and Dorset||Portsmouth|
|HW||Hampshire and Dorset||Portsmouth (Used exclusively for the Isle of Wight)|
|HX, HY||Hampshire and Dorset||Portsmouth|
|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, LJ||London||Wimbledon|
|LK, LL, LM, LN, LO, LP, LR, LS, LT||London||Stanmore|
|LU, LV, LW, LX, LY||London||Sidcup|
|MA, MB, MC, MD, ME, MF, MG, MH, MJ, MK, ML, MM, MN, MO, MP, MR, MS, MT, MU, MV, MW, MX, MY||Manchester & Merseyside||Manchester|
|NA, NB, NC, ND, NE, NF, NG, NH, NJ, NK, NL, NM, NN, NO||North||Newcastle|
|NP, NR, NS, NT, NU, NV, NW, NX, NY||North||Stockton|
|OA, OB, OC, OD, OE, OF, OG, OH, OJ, OK, OL, OM, ON, OO, OP, OR, OS, OT, OU, OV, OW, OX, OY||Oxford||Oxford|
|PA, PB, PC, PD, PE, PF, PG, PH, PJ, PK, PL, PM, PN, PO, PP, PR, PS, PT||Preston||Preston|
|PU, PV, PW, PX, PY||Preston||Carlisle|
|RA, RB, RC, RD, RE, RF, RG, RH, RJ, RK, RL, RM, RN, RO, RP, RR, RS, RT, RU, RV, RW, RX, RY||Reading||Reading|
|SA, SB, SC, SD, SE, SF, SG, SH, SJ||Scotland||Glasgow|
|SK, SL, SM, SN, SO||Scotland||Edinburgh|
|SP, SR, SS, ST||Scotland||Dundee|
|SU, SV, SW||Scotland||Aberdeen|
|VA, VB, VC, VD, VE, VF, VG, VH, VJ, VK, VL, VM, VN, VO, VP, VR, VS, VT, VU, VV, VW, VX, VY||Severn Valley||Worcester|
|WA, WB, WC, WD, WE, WF, WG, WH, WJ||West of England||Exeter|
|WK, WL||West of England||Truro|
|WM, WN, WO, WP, WR, WS, WT, WU, WV, WW, WX, WY||West of England||Bristol|
|YA, YB, YC, YD, YE, YF, YG, YH, YJ, YK||Yorkshire||Leeds|
|YL, YM, YN, YO, YP, YR, YS, YT, YU||Yorkshire||Sheffield|
|YV, YW, YX, YY||Yorkshire||Beverley|
So that’s the geographical bit.
Do you want a handy decoder for the year of registration ‘clarity’ too?
Well try this:
|Year||1 Mar – 31 Aug||1 Sep – 28/29 Feb|
Of course it is.