personal number plate in the UK

In the United States of America, on average, people have the hang of using private number plates as it gives the feel of being exclusive and special. Residents in the United Kingdom to are turning in large numbers towards the personalized number plates that are predominantly used as a style statement. This trend is quite popular among youngsters who prefer to use these personal number plates to look exclusive and special among the crowd.

Usually, people in the US and Britain prefer to use their pet-names or nick-names while some prefer to borrow short and crispy lines from popular sayings or catch lines. However, certain rules and regulations in the UK are mandatory.

However, there are two systems for obtaining registration plate within the UK itself. One for Great Britain that dates from 2001, while the other for Northern Ireland that is similar to the original 1904 system. The Driver and Licensing Agency (DVLA) manages both the system.

Private number plates are also called vanity plates:

These private number plates are also called “vanity plates”. If you reside in the UK, then you have a large number of options to choose from and decide what your license number plate may look like. The cherished number plate comes with a special price. However, if you decide to buy a car with having a vanity plate that you would like to keep, then you can get the plate transferred also.

Slangs and offensive words strictly prohibited:

Unlike the US where opting for the personal number, plate names are more creative and innovative, the registration of personalized number plates in the United Kingdom is done based on the conventional sort of alphanumeric format. In the UK, the numbers are issued by the DVLA and have a strict policy not to accept personalized vanity plates if they are slag or offensive. These vanity plates originally started by private dealers who found the selling of numbers as a profitable business.

The DVLA follows a very distinct system while issuing the registration number for your car.

Let’s view the meaning of the letter on a license plate.

First two letters represent the region and local DVLA office:

In the UK, the first two letters on your private number plate depict the local memory tag and they show the place where the vehicle has been registered. The first letter represents the region while the second letter represents the local office of the DVLA. For example, if you register your car in London, then the number plate would start with LA and end with LY.

Knowing the year of your car by number plate:

Your customized number plate can tell the age and the area where your car was registered. For example, if you have selected a 17 series new style reg (2017), you’d only be able to display it on a vehicle first registered on or after this date. You couldn’t put it on a 55 reg (2005) vehicle.

An interesting fact about number plates:

The letters ‘I’, ‘O‘, and ‘Z’ are never seen on private number plates they look almost the same as the other letters or numbers.

Diplomatic number plates:

Diplomatic number plates are used on vehicles used by foreign embassies, high commissions, consulates, and international organizations. As per law, diplomatic vehicles can be prosecuted but the person driving the car may have diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention. In other words, the person driving the vehicle cannot be prosecuted.

In the earlier times, the diplomatic number plates were often dateless registration plates, and in some cases were previously void number plates, used by specific embassies.

The current format of diplomatic plates:

The present format is followed in case of diplomatic vehicles that came in effect in 1979. There are three numbers, followed by either X or D, accompanied by further three numbers. The first three numbers are used to represent the country or international organization. The letter represents the type of person the vehicle is allocated to. D is used for diplomats and X for non-diplomatic accredited personnel. The final three numbers in the number plate are identifiers, with the range 101 to 399 being used for diplomats, 400 to 699 for non-diplomatic staff, and 700 to 99 for consular staff. The font used for diplomatic plates is narrower than the usual and differs from the standard Charles Wright font used for plates issued in the UK.


From the article, several factors and meaning behind the naming and lettering of personalized number plates have been made clear. For more information, you can visit the DVLA’s official website-