Deciphering UK Number Plate Tags - Your In-Depth Guide and DVLA Contact Numbers for New Car Buyers

Published Date: 7th Aug 2023

New Car NumberplateAs you purchase a new car in the UK, you'll undoubtedly encounter the enigmatic world of number plates. Beyond their seemingly random combinations of letters and digits lies a captivating story waiting to be unravelled. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the intricacies of these alphanumeric puzzles, equipping you with the knowledge to decipher their hidden meanings. Whether you're a seasoned car enthusiast or a first-time buyer, this guide will illuminate the fascinating narrative behind UK number plate tags, allowing you to uncover their secrets.


The "Infix" Memory Tags


The current system that dominates UK number plates is the "infix" style. These plates consist of two letters, followed by a two-digit age or year identifier, and conclude with random final letters.


Here's a breakdown of their significance:



This seemingly complex code provides an accessible gateway to your vehicle's origin, allowing you to uncover essential details about its history.


Evolution through History: Suffix, Prefix, and More


In exploring the captivating history of UK number plates, we look through the evolution of various systems that have marked the passage of time. The most recent system, introduced in 2001, showcases the current landscape of UK number plates. This "infix" style features two letters, a two-digit age identifier, and the concluding letters. While the final letters are randomly assigned, they hold no specific significance in contributing to the modern interpretation of these identifiers.

New 73 Registration PlateBefore this, the "prefix" and "infix" systems followed suit, building on the foundation established by the groundbreaking "suffix" system introduced in 1963. This revolutionary approach breathed new life into UK number plates, incorporating an "area code" that disclosed the vehicle's initial registration region and an "age identifier" number that revealed its registration date. These sequential systems added layers of context and history to each plate, turning them into veritable storytellers.

Stepping back further, the 1920s brought a system that utilized two letters and a number, enhancing the informative value of the plates. However, the year of registration still needs to be represented. In 1903 the developing number plate system debuted with a simple combination of a single letter and a number. These early plates needed more depth of information they would later possess and omitted any indication of the vehicle's region or year of registration.

The journey through the history of UK number plates is a testament to the ever-evolving nature of the UK's motoring landscape. These plates have mirrored motorists' changing needs and values from simplicity to sophistication. Today's system strikes a harmonious balance between uniqueness and identifiable informative information, exemplifying the rich tapestry of British motoring history.


The Significance of Memory Tags


A pivotal element of number plate understanding is grasping "memory tags." These tags, composed of up to three letters, are colloquially referred to as such by the DVLA. What's their role? They offer an insight into where the vehicle's journey began, serving as an automotive origin reference point.


From Regional to Central: Memory Tags Today


Until 2013, these memory tags held the key to the regional DVLA office that undertook the vehicle's registration. Though almost all of the regional offices have disappeared over time, the DVLA continues to issue plates adorned with region-specific memory tags to local dealers. Thus, the tradition inadvertently lives on, seamlessly weaving history into the present.


Empowering Knowledge: Delving into the Area Codes


To facilitate your exploration, we've curated comprehensive lists and explanations of all the area codes that grace UK number plates. Armed with this information, you can effortlessly decipher the tale woven into each plate's characters.


Vehicle regional registration table


Unlocking Secrets: A World Beyond Numbers


As you embark on your journey of new car acquisition, remember that number plates hold more than meets the eye. Every plate is a snapshot of history and origin, waiting for the curious to unravel its geographic and chronological narrative. In a world where plates are more than identifiers, your next car choice becomes an adventure to decode, discover, and delight in.


To help our customers with anything registration or Vehicle tax-related, here is a list of the Main Telephone Contact Numbers for the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) in the UK:


  1. General Enquiries: 0300 790 6801
  2. Vehicle Tax and SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification): 0300 123 4321
  3. Driving Licences: 0300 790 6801
  4. Medical Enquiries: 0300 790 6806
  5. Vehicle Registration and V5C (Log Book) Enquiries: 0300 790 6802
  6. Driving Test Booking: 0300 200 1122
  7. MOT (Ministry of Transport) Enquiries: 0300 123 9000
  8. Blue Badge Enquiries: 0300 790 6801
  9. DVLA Commercial Services: 0300 123 0798


**note: phone numbers and contact information may change over time, so checking the official DVLA website for the most up-to-date contact details is advisable. Additionally, you should be cautious when sharing personal information over the phone and ensure you contact official DVLA channels.


Here is the DVLA website URL, as you can now do most things online: Contact DVLA - GOV.UK (


If we can help you in any way with a New Car Enquiry, call 0161 946 3500