Although you may not realise it, registration plates have a wealth of history and there have been many changes in the last 100 years in regard to how they are displayed. Not only this, but there are several rules and regulations put in place by the DVLA to ensure that they are clear and readable in-case of an incident or theft. Whether you’ve got a normal or private number plate, there are several things you should know about your registration plate and its importance to your vehicle.
The history of number plates
Number plates were first introduced in France in 1893, however, it wasn’t until 1904 that they were finally used in the UK. The Motor Car Act made registration plates a legal requirement in the country, meaning all vehicles were made the have them fitted.
In 1903, the first number plate was made in the UK and it consisted of a one or two letter code followed by numbers that ran from 1 to 9999. The code that was allocated to your vehicle was dependent on the local authority that the vehicle was first registered. The larger the town, the higher up the letter in the alphabet. For example, London number plates began with the letter A.
Unfortunately, this system only lasted until 1932, as the variations of sequences began to run out. Going on from this, the authorities decided to insert a serial letter before the code and then the number sequence would only run from 1 to 999. In the 1950s this scheme was coming to a slow end and it was onto the prefix system In-order to ensure that no two plates are the same.
The prefix system consists of a letter that identifies the year the vehicle was registered, followed by two numbers, and then three random numbers that make the plate completely unique. This system ran all the way up until 2001, when the system that we have now was created. Now, there are two letters that identify the area, followed by another two numbers and three random numbers. These number plates change March and September of each year.
Finding out a car’s age
If you’re looking at buying a second-hand car, you will probably want to be aware of the age of the vehicle so that you can assess its quality. If the vehicle was registered after 2001 (as most these days are likely to be) you should check the first two numbers on the plate. For example, a car registered in March 2018 would have the 3rd and 4th digits ‘18’, and from September 2018 ‘68’.
Personalised number plates
The age of your vehicle depends on the restrictions that you have when it comes to buying a private number plate. You are not allowed to put a plate on the car that makes it appear to be younger.
However, many older private plates do not have an age identifier, therefore you will not be restricted by the date when it comes to your number plate, but there are several other things you should be made aware of.
A private number plate must follow the same rules as a standard one and use the official Charles Wright font. The only other font available is the Charles Wright in a 3D effect. On top of this, the number plate should be clear and visible, with no marks obstructing the characters. National flags and initials are allowed on a number plate, however all other symbols are illegal, such as football club logos and car logos.