Personalised number plates in the UK - a brief history
You may have noticed that cars on the UK’s roads can have a number of different types and formats of private plate. If you’ve ever wondered where these came from, or would like to understand a bit more about the origin of terms such as “personalised”, “dateless”, “cherished”, “prefix”, “current” and “suffix” then please read on for a brief look at the fascinating history of UK personalised number plates.
What types of personalised number plate are there?
We’ve described the different private plate formats below, tying them to the periods during which they were issued. Just click these links to find out more:
Why did we start using registration numbers for our vehicles?
The British government decided over one hundred years ago that the fledgling motorised car industry would need to be regulated.
The “Motor Car Act 1903″ introduced number plates, and raised the UK’s speed limit to a scary 20mph!
As part of this new legislation it was decreed that each motor vehicle would need its own identity. Consequently, all vehicles registered in the UK must have unique registration numbers and so number plates were born.
Personalised number plate formats
Each of the private plate formats mentioned on this site relates to a style of registration issued in the UK during a particular time period.
Terms such as cherished, private plates, personal & personalised plates, number plates and registrations are used almost interchangeably. However these are generic and don’t relate to particular styles, formats or time periods.
Changes to formats were made for different reasons; the most common being simply that all possible sequences in a particular style had been used up requiring a new format – much like the seemingly frequent changes to London phone numbers! To buy a personalised number plate of your own, try the smart search at the top of this page.