The history of number plates

Number plates were first introduced in 1904 and have been used constantly ever since. The first number plates consisted of one or two letters followed by up to four numbers. The letters related to area codes. So for example if you bought your car in London, then your plate would begin with the letter A.

When the letter combinations started to run out, an extra letter was added to the start of the plate, and when these ran out, the plates were reversed, with the numbers first, followed by the letters. These were known as Dateless and Reversed Dateless British Marks.

In 1963 a letter was added to the end of the plates in some areas to represent the year of issue. In 1965 this became a legal requirement. This started with the letter A and continued through the alphabet although some letters were skipped due to their similarities to other letters and numbers, for example the letter I was skipped due its’ similarity to the number one.

In 2001 another system was introduced, with two letters representing the area where the car was registered, two numbers representing the date of registration and three random letters to make more combinations available for the ever increasing amount of vehicles on the road.

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