the uk has run ...

22 August 2001

the uk has run out of space in its current vehicle licensing scheme. this is because the powers that be speeded up the issue of new prefix letters a couple of years ago because they wanted to bring in a new scheme. we’re just coming to the end of the Y’s and since they don’t do a Z prefix we’re getting a new registration format.

in the new scheme it’s the numbers that indicate the age of the vehicle. all plates issued from this september until next march will be ‘51’, and next march they will flip to using ‘02’. this gives them enough numbers to keep this registration format until march 2050.

currently the last two letters of a registration can tell you where the vehicle was first registered but it’s only people with not enough to do with their memory banks who can match these suffixes up with places. the new scheme is a bit more transparent. for example, all plates starting with N originate in the north east with A-O coming from the newcastle area and P-Y coming from the stockton area. i find it interesting that DL through to DY have all been assigned to the shrewsbury area as in the soon to be defunct scheme shropshire has just four suffixes.