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Formats Of British Vehicle Number Plates

Aug 17, 2007
Everyone knows that you can tell a lot about a person depending on the car he drives, but did you know you can probably get the most information from his vehicle number plate? In the UK, where license plates are also known as registration plates, all cars are required to be entered into a national vehicle register and have vehicle number plate for the purposes of identification in case of accident or theft.

Currently in the UK, vehicle number plates have black characters on reflective white PVC when the plate is in the front, and black characters on yellow PVC for the rear. The front plates measure 520 mm by 111 mm, while rear plates come in three categories. Square rear plates are 285 mm by 203 mm, Standard rear plates are 520 mm by 111 mm, and large plates are 533 mm by 152 mm. These are consistent with the system used by the European Union, though the UK is the only one that uses different colours for front and back plates.

Personalized plates, also called vanity plates are available for use, and any registration with two to three consecutive letters and a number between one and 999 are allowed. Registration numbers appropriate to older vintage cars are in high demanded are often sold, either by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency or by private dealers who hold their own stock of desirable registrations. Pricing currently starts at 250 pounds and the record for amount of money paid for a personalized registration stands at 330,000 pounds!

You can learn a lot about the car passing you in Britain by glancing at their license plate. The vehicle number plate of the British forces are white on black and can be identified by having the older "two numbers, two letters, two numbers" format, or by having the newer format of "two letters, two numbers, two letters." You've spotted a diplomat if you see the combination of "three numbers, one letter, three numbers." The letter in this case is "D" if the user is a diplomat and "X" if the user is accredited non-diplomatic staff.

You can compare this system to Ireland's which has a license plate format of two numbers, one to two letters, followed by one to six numbers. In Ireland, the first two numbers refer to a year, the letters refer to an Irish county, and last digits refer to when the vehicle was registered. A license plate reading 93-WX-1201, then, would refer to the 1201st car registered in 1993 in County Wexford.

Though you can learn a lot about a car through how well the owner takes care of it and what he's chosen to use as a bumper sticker, you can also learn a lot through his or her license plate!
About the Author
Buying personal number plates is one of the most popular ways to customize vehicles. http://www.budgetreg.co.uk/ offer a variety of cheap personal number plates for those looking to make the ultimate personal statement.
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