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  • Writer's pictureMark Webb

New Number Plates: Everything you need to know!

Spotting new cars with their shiny new plates is always a highlight of our September …

As we all know, new number plates come out twice a year, on 1st March and 1st September. The most recent number plate is the 22 plate, with the new 72 plates dropping in just under a week's time!

From private plates to green plates, the UK’s system for identifying cars is ever evolving. Knowing how this works can help you to secure a car that’s really the age you want and steer clear of illegal plates.

How do UK number plates actually work?

There are three elements that make up a standard number plate:

  • Two letters representing the region the car was registered in

  • Two numbers representing when the car was registered

  • Three randomly generated letters

Number plates issued from March to September contain two numbers representing the year, while the plates issued from September plates are the year plus 50.

Number Plate Rules & Regs

For cars manufactured after 1 January 1973, the front plate must be white and the rear plate must be yellow. Letters and numbers must abide by strict specifications.

Tell me about personalised plates …

Personalised or private plates are bought specifically for the characters they contain, either directly from the DVLA or from auctions, traders or private individuals if they’re already in circulation. They can represent anything from a driver’s name to a meaningful date, as long as they aren’t deemed offensive. If you like the combination of letters and numbers that a plate contains or have become attached to a specific plate over your driving life, you can of course transfer it onto your next car.

But beware!

Altering the spacing of personalised number plates, although it might seem harmless, is in fact illegal. There is a £1,000 fine waiting for all you rebels out there and the plate in question could be rescinded by the DVLA.

How much is my number plate worth?

As much as several hundred thousand pounds … or as little as nothing. Don’t get too excited - it is unlikely anyone would pay for a ‘standard’ number plate. The most expensive number plates typically have very few characters and/or represent rare and exotic cars. The plate ‘X1’ was sold for around £500,000 not too long ago, while plates that contain the numbers ‘911’ tend to be in demand with Porsche 911 owners. The cheapest plates can be bought from the DVLA for as little as £250.

What’s with the green?

You’ve probably worked it out, but as of 8th of December 2020, any new fully electric car (or cars powered by a hydrogen fuel cell) can be fitted with a so-called ‘green number plate’ to indicate zero tailpipe emission credentials.

Owners do have the option to opt-out of having the green stripe on their plate; however, it is standard for dealers to fit newly-sold electric cars with green plates. At the moment, they’re only a cosmetic item rather than allowing any certain EV privileges.

Banned Plates

Plates insinuating discrimination, sex or violence are automatically banned, whilst any that slip through the net can be rescinded at a later date.

Each time a new age identifier is released, the DVLA has a meeting to establish whether the new digits could resemble an offensive word.

BA22 ARD was banned when the 22 plate was released in March 2022, as were registrations referring to Covid-19 like CO22 ONA.

New Plates

Now that the 72 plates are well on their way, we have two new favourites; EX72 EME and TH72 STY.

If you are looking to snap up your next car with a brand new 72 plate to match, feel free to explore your options with one of our Car Finance Specialists now by heading to or calling 01780 763836 now.


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