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Vehicle Registration Numbers

Vehicle Registration Numbers or VRN�s as they are sometimes abbreviated too, are a way of identifying vehicles. Vehicle registration numbers were first introduced in the 1900�s in a dateless number plate format. Dateless registration numbers were issued on vehicles right up to the 1950�s.

Dateless Number Plates

UK Dateless vehicle registration numbers consist of one to three letters excluding I, Q & Z and one to four numbers, between (0-9), up to four numbers would only be issued with one or two letter combinations. This is referred to as the right way round by purists i.e. the letters first and then the numbers. When issuing offices had used their allocation they would reverse the series i.e. ABC 123 would reverse to vehicle registration number 123 ABC, or AB 1234 would reverse to 1234 AB.

Suffix Number Plates

The popularity of the motor vehicle was well established by the 1950�s and their demand was resulting in many vehicle registration numbers series running out. The DVLA was forced to issue a new style of registration number, this was the Suffix style registration number.

Suffix style vehicle registration numbers were made of three alpha characters, one to three numbers, between (0-9) and the Suffix letter that would represent the year the vehicle was first registered. On August the 1st each year a new suffix indicator would be launched.

The three alpha characters would indicate the vehicle registration office that issues the registration, the one-three numbers was the random part of the registration, as previously mentioned the suffix character was the year identifier.

Prefix Number Plates

In 1980 the Suffix style vehicle registration numbers were superseded by the Prefix vehicle registration number. Keeping with tradition this was essentially the suffix style numbers reversed.

The first character was a letter, A-Y excluding I & Q, this letter was the year indicator, the random part of the vehicle registration number was the following one-three numbers between (0-9) and the �three letter alpha block� referred to the issuing office. The Letters I & Z were not used any where on a prefix registration number. The Q character represented temporary imports and kit cars and was used in place of the year indicator for such vehicles.

Current Style Number Plates

The current style vehicle registration numbers were introduced in January 2001 to replace the prefix number plates. These seven character combinations are made up of two letters which represent the issuing office�s area code followed by two numbers between (0-9) that represent the age indicator. The remaining three letters (excluding I & Q) are the random part of the current style vehicle registration numbers.