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Buy in Confidence - A Glossary of Vehicle Number Plate Terms


Don’t know your suffix form your prefix? Your V750 from you V778? Puzzled by number plate terminology? The world of number plates can be confusing, especially to the first time buyer. However, with this simple guide to common number plate terms you can happily purchase your very own private number plate with confidence:

Certificate of Entitlement (V750) - A certificate of entitlement, or V750, is issued when you purchase a registration number that has never been assigned to a vehicle. Issued by the DVLA, a V750 displays the purchasers’ details and chosen registration.

Retention Certificate (V788) - A retention certificate, or V778, is issued by the DVLA when a registration is transferred off a vehicle to be held on “retention”, pending future assignment.

Nominee Name – This is the name that is added to the V750/V778 when you purchase a registration. The name must match the name that appears in the V5 Logbook of the vehicle you wish to assign the registration number to.

Suffix Registration Plate - Suffix registrations display 3 letters followed by up to 3 numbers and a final letter identifying the year the number was issued. They were first issued in 1963 with the “A” suffix series to meet the growing demand from vehicle on the roads. An example of a suffix registration is ABC 123A.

Prefix Registration Plate - Prefix registration numbers were first issued in 1983. The format is the reverse of suffix number plates with an age identifier letter first, followed by up to 3 numbers and then 3 letters. An example of the format of a prefix registration is A123 ABC.

Current Style Registration Plate – Issued from 2001 onwards, these display 2 letters followed by 2 numbers and then 3 letters. The numbers relate to the year the registration was issued and change every 6 months in March and September. An example of a new style registration is AB02 ABC.

Dateless Registration - A dateless registration is a number plate that has no age identifier. Dateless registration numbers were issued by local councils who were given a letter to represent the area the number plate was issued, not the year it was released. Some are over 100 years old and can command a high price in the market place. There are many formats of dateless registrations depending on when and where they were issued:

• “1 by 1” registration numbers are the classic example of a dateless number plate which display only 1 letter and 1 number. First issued from 1903 onwards these are the ultimate registration numbers to own.

• “2 by 2” registration numbers display 2 letters and 2 numbers. They are neat looking registrations and are very popular with collectors. The addition of a second letter and number enables you to find you initials and/or year of birth.

• “3 by 3” registration numbers were issued to meet the growing numbers of vehicles on the road. A further letter and number were added to number plates so they would display 3 letters and 3 numbers. “3 by 3” registrations are dateless registrations but to the trained eye you can recognise these are younger registrations than some dateless number plates.

• “2 by 3” registration numbers display 2 letters and 3 numbers or 2 numbers and 3 letters. Examples of “2 by 3” registration numbers are ABC 11 and 111 AB. Generally speaking letters followed by numbers are more desirable and can command a higher price.

• “2 by 4” registration numbers display 2 letters and 4 numbers and can provide a cost effective answer to a dateless registration.

• Reverse dateless registrations were issued when other formats were exhausted Councils reversed registrations to cope with increase in vehicles on the road. Reverse dateless plates are younger than many dateless registrations, which can be reflected in the price. A1 for example is worth more than 1A.

Acrylic Number Plates - These are the physical number plates that go on your car or other vehicle. They display your chosen registration number and the suppliers of the registrations’ name and postcode. You can also display the EURO symbol and GB national identifier for travel within the EU. It is an offence to misrepresent your registration in order for it to make a certain word or name.

Show Plates – These can be produced by number plate suppliers to read anything you wish. You can have various fonts; your registration number spaced differently, or even someone’s name. These plates are NOT road legal and by displaying these on your vehicle whilst on the road can make you liable for prosecution by the police.

DVLA - The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is a government department which maintains registers on driver and vehicle information and collects vehicle excise duty. They facilitate road safety and aid in road law enforcement.

Buying a car registration is an easy procedure and with this glossary of commonly used terms you can be sure of buying in confidence.

Submitted by:

Ross O'Donnell

Ross O'Donnell is company secretary of Cape Plates ( http://www.capeplates.co.uk ) and has a passion for all things number plates related. Cape Plates offer access to over 30 million car registrations via the website as well as a free valuation and selling service.





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