Prefix Number Plates

Prefix number plates look great and allow vehicle owners to complement and distinguish their rides with a bit of history. Plus, because so many plates are in circulation, the most personally appealing prefix number plate is almost certainly available.


Prefix Number Plates' Origin and Formatting

Prefix number plates became the standard in 1983, replacing suffix number plates, which had been used since 1963.


The prefix plate’s formatting is straightforward enough. The first character (i.e. prefix) serves as an age identifier, establishing the year in which the plate at hand was initially assigned to a vehicle. Three randomly selected numbers follow this prefix, and the three final letters consist of a two-letter memory tag (issued based on the plate’s registration location) and a randomly selected third letter.


The prefix number plate closely resembles the suffix plate, with the obvious difference being that the age identifier is placed at the beginning of the number-letter combination, not the end.


As for the letters selected to be prefix number plate age identifiers, plates registered between August of 1983 and July of 1984 were labeled “A,” plates registered between August of 1984 and July of 1985 were labeled “B,” and so on; each year brought with it a new prefix.


However, the letters “I,” “O,” “U,” and “Z,” weren’t used as prefix (or suffix) age identifiers, because they too closely resemble other numbers and letters. (“I” can be mistaken for one, and “O” can be mistaken for zero, for example.)


Also, between 1999 and 2001, the DVLA issued new age identifiers every six months as opposed to every year. Number plates for vehicles registered between August of 1998 and February of 1999 received an “S” age identifier, while those registered between March and August of 1999 received a “T” age identifier. This continued with “V,” “W,” “X,” and “Y,” until the overhaul was made official in September of 2001.


Prefix Number Plates' Origin and Formatting

Absolutely! The DVLA regulates the secondary number-plate industry by enforcing one main law: Plates cannot be used to make an older vehicle appear newer. But as virtually all number-plate customers (and especially those interested in prefix number plates) aim to do the opposite–assign an older plate to a newer vehicle–there’s very little to be concerned about, rule-wise.


A bit of transfer paperwork can be completed at a local DVLA office or, for a small fee, by our expert team. Customers who want to own a number plate but are unsure about assigning it to a vehicle can simply make the purchase and request a registration retention certificate, which maintains decade-long ownership of the plate and can be renewed for free at the time of expiration.

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