How old is my car?
It can be important to know when your car was registered - our guide explains all
You may rarely have paid attention to the combination of letters and numbers on your car’s registration plate but regular UK plates provide information about the year your car was registered and where. UK number plates are quite unusual in a way; few other countries put the year of registration on their registration plates, but it means you can instantly see how old a car is.
While that can lead to number plate snobbery and buyers waiting for the latest registration plate, it also clearly shows when the car was first registered. This might not seem like a particularly important thing but it comes in handy on occasion; if you’re buying a used car, for example. As many cars are serviced annually, it can also give you an idea of roughly how many services it should have had.
None of this information is available on personalised number plates. In the UK, you can pay to have a different number plate to the one your car originally came with, and many people choose to do this to personalise their cars.
UK car number plates explained
Since 2001, all new cars registered in the UK get a seven-digit number plate made up of two letters, two numbers, a space and then three more letters (i.e. AB69 CDE). The first two letters are known as ‘regional identifiers’, showing where the car was registered; any car with B and another letter afterwards was registered in the Birmingham area; any number plate starting with S was registered in Scotland, and so on. The two numbers show the age of the car, and the three final letters are used to make sure all registrations are unique.
Between 1983 and 2001, UK number plates used the format of one letter, three numbers, a space and three further letters (i.e. A123 BCD). The last two letters showed the district where the car was registered but this doesn’t correspond to the first two letters used under the current system. The first letter shows the car’s age. Before this, cars registered from February 1963 came with a letter at the end of the number plate, which also showed the age of the car.
We’ve put the age of cars from 1983 to the present day below, where you can also see the new car registrations for 2020 and beyond:
What year is my car reg?
2001 - present day (continuing until at least 2049)
|Numbers||Date of registration||Numbers||Date of registration|
|51||Sep 2001 - Feb 2002||02||Mar - Aug 2002|
|52||Sep 2002 - Feb 2003||03||Mar - Aug 2003|
|53||Sep 2003 - Feb 2004||04||Mar - Aug 2004|
|v v v||v v v||v v v||v v v|
|59||Sep 2009 - Feb 2010||10||Mar - Aug 2010|
|60||Sep 2010 - Feb 2011||11||Mar - Aug 2011|
|61||Sep 2011 - Feb 2012||12||Mar - Aug 2012|
|62||Sep 2012 - Feb 2013||13||Mar - Aug 2013|
|v v v||v v v||v v v||v v v|
|69||Sep 2019 - Feb 2020||20||Mar - Aug 2020|
|70||Sep 2020 - Feb 2021||21||Mar - Aug 2021|
|71||Sep 2021 - Feb 2022||22||Mar - Aug 2022|
1983 - 2001
|Letter||Date of registration|
|A||Aug 1983 - July 1984|
|B||Aug 1984 - July 1985|
|C||Aug 1985 - July 1986|
|v v v||v v v|
|P||Aug 1996 - July 1997|
|R (Q not used)||Aug 1997 - July 1998|
|S||Aug 1998 - Feb 1999|
|T||Mar - Aug 1999|
|V (U not used)||Sep 1999 - Feb 2000|
|W||Mar - Aug 2000|
|X||Sep 2000 - Feb 2001|
|Y (Z not used)||Mar - Aug 2001|
Finding the date of first registration through a vehicle check
The date a car was first registered is easily accessible, so you don’t have to be a number plate guru to find out how old a car is. For your own car, the registration date will be printed in the V5C or logbook. A DVLA vehicle check or an HPI check will also tell you when a car was first registered.