HomeNews A Guide to UK Number Plates

A Guide to UK Number Plates

01 September 2020

A Guide to UK Number Plates

Number plates, registration plates, personalised plates. They all do the same job of identifying your car. But what do they mean? And what do they tell you about a car?

When do the new number plates come out?

Every year there are new number plates released twice in the UK, on the 1st of March and the 1st of September. For instance: the 20 plate was released on March 1st 2020 and will apply to any new vehicle registered up until 31st August 2020 (where it becomes the 70 plate).

How do I know how old a car is?

When buying a used car, it’s vital to know how old it is for assessing quality and how much your insurance will be.
Fortunately, the third and fourth digits of the plate tell you the age. Scroll down to see the number plate age table.

What do number plates mean?

To jump from a 20-plate to a 70-plate seems confusing at first but let us help you understand.
The third and fourth digits signify the year in which the vehicle was made, we know this as the ‘age identifier’. For example: a vehicle made between March 1st 2020 and August 31st 2020 will be registered with ‘20’ in the plate. When the plate change occurs in September, you add 50 to this number, which creates the ’70 plate’ of September 2020. Think back to 2019, in March we had the new 19 plate (for 2019) and in September it became the 69 plate. This has been the standard across all cars registered since 2001, so you are able to quickly and easily work out the age of vehicle if you are looking to purchase a used car.

You can see how old a car is by the numbers in the registration plate:

Year of Car Registration Plate from March-August Plate from September onwards
2016 16 66
2017 17 67
2018 18 68
2019 19 69
2020 20 70
2021 21 71
2022 22 72
2023 23 73
2024 24 74
2025 25 75


The first two letters of a number plate also have meaning. The DVLA calls the first two letters ‘Memory Tags’ as they represent the region where the car was registered. So the first letter is the region and the second letter identifies the postal area within the region.
Wonder where your car was registered originally? Check out our table below.

DVLA Memory Tag Identifier Region
AA-Ay Anglia
BA-BY Birmingham
CA-CY Cymru
DA-DY Deeside to Shrewsbury
EA-EY Essex
FA-FY Forest & Fens
GA-GY Garden of England
HA-HY exc HW Hampshire & Dorset
HW Isle of Whight
KA-KY Borehamwood to Northampton
LA-LY London
MA-MY exc MN & MAN Manchester & Merseyside
MN & MAN Isle of Man
NA-NY North
OA-OY Oxford
PA-PY Preston
RA-RY Reading
SA-SY Scotland
VA-VY Severn Valley
WA-WY West of England
YA-YY Yorkshire


What will the number plates be next year?

As the number plates in 2020 are ‘20’ and ‘70’ the number plates in 2021 will be ’21’ from March 1st 2021 until August 31st 2021 where they change to ‘71’.

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new 70 plate reg