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A brief history of the DVLA

May 28, 2009
Posted in Number Plates — Written by William

The number plates of a car act as a unique vehicle identifier. Like DNA, there are no two registration plates that are the same and only one registration number can be used on a particular vehicle.

All the details and information about number plates is kept in a central database that is administered by the DVLA or the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. Various formats have been used and followed for registration plates over the years with the purpose of meeting the increasing number of vehicles on the road.

In 1903, with the introduction of the Motor Car Act, registrations were first made mandatory. The DVLA did not exist back then and it was the responsibility of the local council to oversee the administration of car registration numbers. However, problems occurred when the vehicle owner moved to a different place or sold the vehicle, as it was mandatory to transfer the registration details to the other council. It was realised that the council system would not be able to cope with the massive rise in car registrations and the DVLA was established in 1965.

After its inception, the DVLA was the sole government authority responsible for the administration of number plates across the UK. Since its introduction, the DVLA has used three different formats for registration plates – suffix registrations, prefix registrations and the present style of registrations.

There are literally millions of number plate combinations available, so the chances of finding a personalised number plate you like for your vehicle are very high. Nowadays, number plates are much more than an identifier for your vehicle, they have become a collector’s items and are the ultimate in car accessories.

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