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Types Of Private Plates

What type of plate is it?

Plates are generally defined as one of five types: Prefix, Suffix, Dateless, Irish or Current Style.

Type: Example:
Prefix A123 BCD, V7 WXY
Suffix ABC 1D, VWX 789Y
Dateless ABC12, M3, WXY678
Irish IJK 1234, XYZ789
Current Style AB51CDE, MN62ABC

1. Current Style plates

These are the style of plates currently assigned to all new UK vehicles and were introduced in September 2001. There are two versions of the plate issued each year, one on March 1st and the other on September 1st. These plates consist of a two letter location identifier (AB), a two digit year identifier (61), a space and finally a three letter assignment (eg CDE). Unlike the following number plate styles, Current Style plates always consist of seven characters which considerably retards their ability to spell words and phrases.


2. Prefix Style plates

Prefix Style plates predate the Current Style – they were introduced in August 1983 and replaced by the current style in August 2001. Prefix Style plates consist of an age identifying letter prefix (A), one to three numbers (123), a space and finally three further letters (BCD).


3. Suffix Style plates

Suffix Style plates were introduced in 1962 and ran until 1983 when they ran out of date suffixes. The plates consist of three letters (ABC), a space, one to three numbers (123) and an age identifying letter suffix (D). Suffix style number plates aren’t sold/released by the DVLA thus increasing their value.


4. Dateless Style plates

Dateless plates were in use from 1903 up until 1963. As more and more cars were involved in accidents, the government needed a way to be able to track vehicles. The first plates ever issued were by the French in 1893, followed by the Germans in 1896. Why are they known as dateless plates? They didn’t have an age identifier immediately obvious as part of the registration. Instead the plate letters covered a number of years (sometimes over 50 years for a particular area identifier), and as such it cannot be used to tie the original registration down to a particular year. An example would be the registration CV123. The letters CV indicate that it was first registered in Cornwall, and that it was in use between May 1929 and March 1934. After this (when Cornwall ran out of CV plate combinations) they subsequently used ACV, BCV etc.

As they are dateless, they are a near-perfect way to conceal a vehicle’s age and are free of the constraints of the other styles of plates. Dateless Styles have up to three letters (ABC) followed by up to 4 numbers (1234) (or vice-versa) up to a maximum of 6 characters.


5. Irish Style plates

Issued by the DVLNI (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland) instead of the DVLA, these plates are similar to the above Dateless Style in that they also don’t have a date identifier. They are somewhat restricted however in that they always have to contain either the letter I or the letter Z. Perfect if your name is IZI (Isobel, Izzy), but a little restrictive otherwise. They contain up to three letters followed by up to 4 numbers.

JIM 9999; IM 007; Z00 3333

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Please note: At the end of 2013 all 39 local DVLA offices closed and the DVLA transferred all dealings to its national centre at Swansea. If your vehicle was registered before the end of 2013 then the street view map shown on the car registration page will point to the original office despite the fact that the office has closed.