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About Number Plates - National Numbers

Here at National Numbers, we've been in the number plates business for a long time - in fact, we've been selling DVLA number plates for more than 25 years.

We aim to provide our customers with user-friendly number plate searches to make it easier for you to find the number plate of your choice. Browse our site and you'll find a vast resource for cheap number plates, cheap dateless plates, stock number plates and more. What's more, we'll even let you make your own private number plate!

The number plate fun doesn't stop there: you'll also be able to scour our site for rude number plates and funny number plates, both of which can make excellent gifts.

Finding the right number plate for you

To find the right number plate for you, just use our number plate search facility, where you can search for initials, names or anything else! You'll be able to have fun experimenting with ideas, names and phrases until you find the number plate combination that you're looking for.

Better still, since we've been in the number plates game for so long, you can rest assured that we know all there is to know about number plates. Read on and find out about how the number plate system began, what categories of car number plates exist and more. You could be an expert on car number plates, personalised number plates and car registrations in no time!

Short History of Number Plates

In 1903, the Motor Car Act was passed which required all motor vehicles to be registered by the appropriate local authority from January 1st 1904. However, some authorities began registration as early as late 1903.

Each local authority was allocated number plates with one, two or three letters. London, as the largest registration area, was allocated 'A'. 'B' was given to Lancashire as the next largest and so on. Glasgow was given 'G', Edinburgh 'S' and Lanarkshire 'V', these three letters being reserved specifically for Scottish number plates. 'I' and 'Z' number plates were reserved for Ireland, being allocated alphabetically, for example, 'IA' to County Antrim etc.

It is widely known that the first registration issued in London was A 1 and, to secure this for his Napier, Earl Russell queued all night outside the officesfor the right to display A 1 on his number plates.

Obviously as more and more vehicles came onto the roads, authorities would run out of their original allocation or new boroughs would be created and require their own registration codes. In 1905, London was given LC as the first registration area to use up its original 'L' allocation of number plates.

In the early days, the registration system was not as tightly regulated as it is today. For example, if a vehicle keeper moved to another registering borough, the vehicle was often re-registered.

By 1932, the two-letter code number plates system was bursting at the seams and a third letter had to be added, followed by up to three numbers. so this is where the first, potentially offensive words had to be withheld eg. GOD and SEX. The rapid increase in car ownership after the war was catered for by the obvious step of reversing letters and numbers.

It is interesting that more motorcycles were registered in the 1930's than any other vehicle type. This influenced some authorities to use both their series of three letter combinations at once to avoid having the problem of fitting four-digit number plates onto small, rear motorcycle plates.

It seems that people's sensitivities about what was displayed on number plates were much tenderer back then - or perhaps so the "powers that be" thought. For example BF ("bloody fool") was not initially issued but, as the system came under pressure, this combination was released with a preceding letter. However, ABF ("a bloody fool") and UBF were not allowed to be displayed on number plates neither was 'WC' allowed at first although 'LOO' got past with no problem!

Number plates in more modern times

Again, to respond to an ever-increasing number of vehicles on the roads, a year letter was introduced in 1963 eg. BDC 167A, where 'A' is the so-called suffix letter at the end of the number plate.

Another major change happened in 1974, when the hitherto manual system operated by local authorities changed to (yes, you've guessed it) a computerised system. The DVLC (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre) at Swansea was formed along with a network of Local Vehicle Licensing Offices (now called LO's or Local Offices).

In 1983, the suffix system for number plates had come to an end with the 'Y' registration. Consultation decreed that the year letter should now take the form of a prefix eg. A167 BDC where "A" at the front of the number plate indicates the year of manufacture.

At this point, some far-sighted person decided there was no fair way to allocate the numbers 1-20 so these number plates were withheld followed by more attractive numbers during the later releases, such as 30, 50 etc. 33, 44 etc. 100, 200 etc and 111, 222 etc.

Which leads us neatly into the reason you are on the site. Congratulations if you have read this far. You are now ready to explore the vast range of number plates on our site, whether it be a dateless mark (ie. without a year-letter at all), suffix number plates (year letter at the end), a prefix mark (year letter at the front) or a new-style registration (two letters at the front indicating the issuing local office followed by the year identifier followed by three random letters).

Go on, have a go, enter your name, initials, birthday in the search box - good luck!

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By Eric Craggs - Google+