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Dating number plate

If you see a car with a strange-looking number plate that features the letter ‘D’ sandwiched between six numbers, this indicates a diplomatic car operated by a foreign embassy, consulate or high commission.

A letter ‘X’ in the same position denotes the car is registered to an embassy or consulate staff member who isn’t an actual diplomat.

However, because the number plate’s appearance didn’t change, this didn’t really have the desired effect.

It wasn’t until the arrival of the ‘51’ plate when today’s system started in March 2001 that the dramatic August sales surge was stemmed – although the current system was also implemented because the previous one had run out of unique combinations.

The convention still remains, though, and if you see a post-2001 car whose number plate beings with the letter ‘G’, this tells you it was first registered in what the DVLA quaintly calls the ‘Garden of England’ – namely Maidstone and Brighton.

Plates that bear a resemblance to offensive and vulgar phrases aren’t issued, and you’re also not allowed to use a number plate that shows your car to be younger than it actually is.

If your name is Chris, for instance, and you own a car first registered in 2014, you won’t be allowed to apply the number plate ‘CR15’ on it, as this would indicate the car is a year newer than it actually is.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) administers and records all UK number plates, which must be white at the front of the car, yellow at the rear and contain black lettering, in unique and a prescribed font called Since September 2001, UK registration plates have comprised seven characters, divided into three groups.

The first two letters indicate where the car was first registered.


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