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What Do The Letters Stand For On UK Number Plates?

Part of the driving information section on UK Traffic News.

So your wondering what the letters stand for on UK numbers plates?

The current number plate system was introduced in the UK on 1 September 2001 and will operate until 28 February 2051.

It started with "51" number plates like AA51 AAA Number Plate in Year 2001  in 2001 and will end in 2051 with "00" number plates like AA00 AAA Number Plate Year 2051

For a table of the registration dates and registration years and months see our What do the numbers stand for on UK number plates page.

A new system will then need to be introduced from 2052.

How are Number Plate Letters Selected For Vehicles?

The DVLA allocates number plates to new cars being registered with the DVLA by car retailers based on the period in which the vehicle is first being registered with the DVLA.

The letters and number allocated to the vehicle are based on the region and area together with the date the vehicle is first registered in the UK.

The two registration date periods run 1 September to 28 February and 1 March to 31 August each year.

The above examples of number plates are actually possible and would related to a a vehicle registered in the Peterborough area of the Anglia region in Eastern England. The first letter in the number plate being the main region of Angla "A" and the second "A" representing Peterborough.

The main regions (first letter in the number plate) and sub regions (second letter in the number plate) are listed below.

The last three letters are random allocated letters.

Official local mnemonic DVLA office Second Number
Plate Letter
(local DVLA
office identifier)
A Anglia Peterborough A B C D E F G H J K L M N
Norwich O P R S T U
Ipswich V W X Y
Birmingham Birmingham A–Y
C Cymru (Wales) Cardiff A B C D E F G H J K L M N O
Swansea P R S T U V
Bangor W X Y
D Deeside to Shrewsbury Chester A B C D E F G H J K
Shrewsbury L M N O P R S T U V W X Y
E Essex Chelmsford A–Y
F Forest and Fens
(East Midlands)
Nottingham A B C D E F G H J K L M N P
Lincoln R S T V W X Y
G Garden of England 
(Kent and Sussex)
Maidstone A B C D E F G H J K L M N O
Brighton P R S T U V W X Y
H Hampshire and Dorset
(including Isle of Wight)
Bournemouth A B C D E F G H J
Portsmouth K L M N O P R S T U V X Y
Note: W for Isle of Wight residents only
K Luton A B C D E F G H J K L
Northampton M N O P R S T U V W X Y
L London Wimbledon A B C D E F G H J
Stanmore K L M N O P R S T
Sidcup U V W X Y
M Manchester and Merseyside Manchester A–Y
Note: N is reserved for Isle of Man
N North Newcastle A B C D E F G H J K L M N O
Stockton P R S T U V W X Y
O Oxford Oxford A–Y
P Preston Preston A B C D E F G H J K L M N O P R S T
Carlisle U V W X Y
R Reading Reading A–Y
S Scotland Glasgow A B C D E F G H J
Edinburgh K L M N O
Dundee P R S T
Aberdeen U V W
Inverness X Y
V Severn Valley Worcester A–Y
W West of England Exeter A B C D E F G H J
Truro K L
Bristol M N O P R S T U V W X Y
X Temporary Export Plates
[citation needed]
Y Yorkshire Leeds A B C D E F G H J K
Sheffield L M N O P R S T U
Beverley V W X Y


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