The difference between old style and new style DVLA number plates

Number Plates

At Speedy Reg we offer both old style and new style DVLA number plates, to give you the maximum amount of choice when you’re selecting your new license plate, but we’re sometimes asked just what the difference is. Well it’s really quite simple.

The old style DVLA number plates are sometimes called Prefix DVLA number plates as the characters that identify the year of issue are at the start of the plate. This was the standard type of number plate issued by the DVLA from 1983 until the system was changed in 2001 when the range of numbers available started to run out.

Rather interestingly, the new system was devised, not just to allow a greater range of numbers, but also for the plates to be more memorable, in the hope that witnesses to crimes and accidents would have a greater chance of remembering number plates.

The current style DVLA number plates have been around since 2001. They consist of two letters followed by two letters that identify the year of issue. There are then three random letters at the end of the plate.

If you use the search facility on our website, you can choose to search for plates in either of these categories, or you can search our entire database of plates. You’re bound to find just what you’re looking for.

Photo credit: By Zweifel (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons