Registration Plate: Fun Facts

Vehicle Registration Plates: Why we have them & what do they mean?

As you may or may not know registrations plates change each spring (March) and autumn (September) but question is do you know what the letters and numbers actually mean?

The current system of licence plate formats started in September 2001 and the number plate is divided into three sections which goes as follows: starting from the left, there are two letters which represent the region that specific car was registered. Next is two numbers which represent the year the car was registered. Finally there is three letters which are randomly generated and have no significance.

Now to explain what the two numbers mean. March number plates represent the year so for example this year they are 20 plates as the year is 2020 and last year was 19 plates as it was 2019. September plates are the year (20) plus 50 which means any cars registered from September will have a 70 plate.

This is what the next decade of registration plates looks like:

Registration Year

Plate March Onwards

Plate September Onwards

2020 20 70
2021 21 71
2022 22 72
2023 23 73
2024 24 74
2025 25 75
2026 26 76
2027 27 77
2028 28 78
2029 29 79


There are some strict number plate specifications for vehicles made after 1973 such as the front plate needs to have a white background and the rear plate needs to have a yellow background. There is also strict regulations in regards to size, length and thickness of the letters.

These include:

  • Characters must be 79mm tall
  • Characters be 50mm wide (except the number 1 or letter I)
  • The thickness of the character stroke must be 14mm
  • The space between characters must be 11mm
  • The space between the age identifier and the random letters must be 33mm
  • The margins at the top, bottom and side must be 11mm
  • The vertical space between the age identifier and the random numbers must be 19mm

Final fun fact for you, the font used on number plates have been the same since 2001 and is called the Charles Wright font.

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