Since 1999, new number plates have been released twice a year and has become an area of uncertainty for people considering a new car.
Here we’ll take you through all you need to know about the number plate change and more importantly, explain how good knowledge of the system can help you when buying a car.
If you are considering buying a new car, you might want to take a look at our Used Car Checklist.
When do the new number plates come out?
New number plates or car registration number are released twice a year – at the start of March and September, effectively every 6 months.
Although registration plates have existed in the United Kingdom since 1903, the new system came into place in 2001 to keep up with the proliferation of new cars on British roads. This system is expected to run until the end of February 2051 when the number code would be ‘00’.
What do car number plates mean?
An old age question asked at some point by many drivers. The current number plate format that’s been used since September 2001 is made up of three parts:
- The first two letters are an area code and show where the vehicle was first registered in the UK – the first letter denotes the region and the second a DVLA local office.
- The middle two numbers are an age identifier, showing you the age of the vehicle down to a six-month period. If the first number is below 5 then it was registered in March and the second number is the year.
- The last three letters are random to give the car a unique identity.
When to buy a car?
The good news is if you’re buying a used car then there’s no need to carefully pick your timing. At Cargiant, we make it easy to get a great deal as our prices are low all year round.
However, if you’re looking to buy a brand-new car then it could be best to wait until a new registration plate is released (i.e. March and September). This way your car will be the newest on the road for as long as possible.
Alternatively, buying just before the plates change you can sometimes work in your favour as dealers look to get rid of stock. However, this could work against you when you come to sell your car as it will be older and therefore worth less.
What is a private number plate?
Any number plate that has been added to a car that isn’t the original plate issued by the DVLA is considered a personalised number plate (as they are also known).
Since 1983, the DVLA has held back valuable personalised number plates for separate sale, with the money raised going to the Treasury.
The most valuable number plates tend to be dateless ones that hide the car’s age. These can be any combination of up to four numbers and up to three letters in either order e.g. 1234 AB or CD 12.
How to buy a private number plate?
There are three ways you can buy a private number plate:
- The first is to buy online from the DVLA at any time of the year. There’s a search tool to help you browse the available plates.
- The DVLA also holds a number of auctions each year. These consist of the most sought-after combinations that have been handpicked.
- The final way is to keep an eye out for the one you’re looking for and buy it privately.
How do I change number plate?
You can assign a private number plate to a car online or by post. For full details, just visit here https://www.gov.uk/personalised-vehicle-registration-numbers
Once the application has been successful, you just need to swap over the plates before you drive the car.
Where to buy a car
Now that you’re no longer confused by new registration plate changes or just number plates in general, it’s time to go out and search for your ideal car with a boost of extra confidence.
Before you plan your visit to Cargiant why don’t you find the right car by the year it was made using our advanced search tool.