Registration Plate change surprise

Van drivers who have decided to splash out on a new van and the commercial vehicle insurance to go with it, may well get a surprise when they see the registration plate allocated to their new LCV.

Because the Department of Vehicle Licensing (DVLA) issue two new registrations every year, the ones issued from September 1st will have the number 60 on them. This may seem strange but is brought about by the present system whereby the first registration of the year takes the last two numerals of the year as its id, the second issue taking the number 5 (which has now run out) plus the last numeral of the year.

Why the Transport Ministry chose this system no-one knows but it has created a little confusion this year, what happens when we get to 2060 remains to be seen? It isn’t the first time registration plates have altered though, from the inception of ‘The Motor Car Act 1903’ which required all motor cars to display registration marks in a prominent position, vans and cars have gone through many periods of registration plate changes.

By the end of the First World War it was obvious that the significant increase in the numbers of vehicles on the roads had to be addressed and the ‘Roads Act 1920’ introduced by the newly formed Ministry of Transport, required local councils to oversee the licensing of motor cars and allocate a different, identifying number to each vehicle. The number had to be placed prominently on the vehicle and so the number plate was born.

The first plates issued consisted of one letter and four numbers and each council had their own identifying letter and number. The number plate A1 was issued in London to Earl Russell in 1920 and became the forerunner of millions. Soon the plate changed to two letters and four numbers but by the mid 1930’s the combinations available were exhausted.

The next combination consisted of three letters with up to three numbers following; so for example BBB1 through to BBB999. This system lasted twenty years and was followed by a simple reversal i.e. numbers came before letters which brought the number plate into the 1960’s.

The post war population explosion and the mass manufacture of motor cars required a new system by 1963. A quite simple seventh digit addition; a letter A at the end identified the plate by its year of registration and this system was applied through the alphabet (with a couple of exceptions) to bring us to the 1980’s. Once more the reversal of the old system was used. Instead of the year identifying digit being on the end of the plate it was moved to the front.

The turn of the century brought about a change in the plate system once more, 2 prefix letters two numbers and three letters, the prefix letters identifying the region where the car was registered. This is the system in place now and the reason why new vehicle owners will see a number 6 on their plate next month.




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