Supplying Personalised Registrations since 1969 - call 01482 222 223

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About Cherished Plates

In the early 20th century motor vehicles began to appear on the roads of Britain and there were sufficient numbers for the government to introduce the Motor Car Act, which legally obliged every car owner to display a car number plate. The legendary A 1 number plate (first registered to Earl Russell in December 1903) remains shrouded in mystery and many car number plate aficionados see this as the holy grail of private number plates.

From January 1st 1904 every motor vehicle used on British roads required a registration number with each local council assigning their own code, London was A, for example. When single letters ran out, two letters were used (although some double-letter combinations were discounted because it was considered they could cause offence or as in the case of "ER" already had a designated significance.)

The numbers of cars gradually began to increase, so the efficacy of the old numbering system began to decline. By 1932 the system had expanded to include three letters and three numbers. After the Second World War this was changed around to three numbers and then three letters. These plates are still widely available and prices range from a couple of hundred to several thousand depending on the letter/number combination.

By 1963 the suffix registration system was introduced with a letter allocated for each plate denoting the year of registration ABC 123A, for example, with the A denoting the year. In 1984 the system changed again to the prefix system eg A123 ABC with the A at the beginning depicting the age of the vehicle.

In 2001 the system changed yet again to the New Style Registrations, this new style of registration was influenced by the Police to take account that suggested witnesses, particularly in hit and run incidents, remember the letters of a registration mark much more easily than the numbers. As people read from left to right it made sense to put this information, the local code, at the beginning rather than the end of the number plate. As the result the current system for registrations is made up of 3 parts, as shown below.

Local Region

This represents the place where the car was first registered. Vehicles registered in Birmingham, for example, begin with the letters BA – BY; those registered in Chelmsford begin EA - EY.

Date ID

This indicates the date of registration of the vehicle, and changes every 6 months, in March and September.

The system started with the use of 51 to denote the 6 months from September 2001, with 02 replacing it in March 2002. 52 then denotes September 2002, 03 denotes March 2003 and so on.


The last three letters are random to any vehicle, and can now include Z but not I or Q.