Prefix car number plates are one of the best selling types of car registration here at New Reg. The format of prefix plates is just as the name suggests. Prefix registrations begin with a letter that indicates the car’s year of manufacture. The prefix style started in the early 1980s, because suffix registrations, which ended with the letter denoting the year, ran out at that point.
What is a prefix style number plate?
After exhausting the letters of the alphabet for the suffix format, UK car registrations began again using the prefix format on 1st August 1983. The issuing process began with the letter A, and prefix registration plates were issued 1st August each year thereafter, until August 2001 when the letter Y was used. Every prefix plate started with the digit denoting the year. This first batch comprised cars or vans with an ‘A’ prefix; these were registered between 1st August 1983 and 1st August 1984. These were followed by “B” prefix plates from 1984 to 1985, C for 1985 to 1986, and so forth. In 1999, this system changed to accommodate for two new registrations to be issued each rather than one.
The alphabet was used in order, as applied to the suffix plates used before the prefix ones. The letters I, O, Q, U, Z were not used, as they looked too much like other digits – namely 1, 0, 0, V and 2 respectively. The prefix system was replaced, after “Y” plates were issued in August 2001, by the new or current style plates still in use today.
After the first letter, prefix plates feature two to three numbers between 21 and 999. Numbers 1 to 20 are generally excluded from plates beginning with letters between A and H as they were retained by the DVLA for special issue. Any prefix plate with a number under 21 is thus rarer than any with a number of 21 or higher.
After the letter H, extra numbers were reserved for select issue, beginning with the letter J. Numbers seen by the DVLA as significant in some way were retained; these include 30, 33, 40, 44, 111, 700, 777, 800, 888 and so on, as well as 1 to 20. At New Reg, we often sell such numbers, and they remain very popular.
Following the prefix letter, number and space there are three letters on a prefix plate. If these reflect common initials, these are much sought after. There are also some short words and names consisting of three letters, adding to the prefix plate’s popularity.
A prefix plate’s last two letters generally indicate where the car was initially registered. A registration ending in BA indicated that the car was from Manchester or Salford, for example, while BG indicated either the city of Liverpool or Birkenhead on the Wirral. A number of these area codes were reassigned to different areas from 1974 onwards.
What about prefix private number plates?
Prefix style plates have made available a wide range of combinations, and they are one of our most sought after options. Our search function enables customers to easily search for their chosen word, initials or name, so why not give it a whirl?
Can you put a prefix number plate on any car?
The short answer is no, as the DVLA objects to the use of a plate that could be misleading. If using a prefix plate would mean a vehicle appear newer than it really is, then its use would be forbidden. This helps to avoid misleading buyers of used vehicles.
In practice, therefore, a prefix number plate may not be used on any vehicle that was first registered before 1st August 1983. However, as most cars available to buy are newer than this, it’s rarely an issue and will likely only apply to classic cars made prior to the early 1980s.