Car number plates explained
The current system for car registration plates uses a combination of seven letters and numbers to show where and when a car was registered.
The first letter of the number plate represents the area where the car was registered, and the second relates to the articular DVLA office that processed the registration. For example, a car with the letters AB would be from the Anglia region (A) and registered at the Peterborough DVLA office (B).
If you're buying a used car, it's the two numbers which follow the first two letters that really matter, as these represent the date the car was registered, and therefore its age.
The numbers issued change twice a year, on March 1 and September 1. In the first half of the registration year (ie. March-August inclusive) the numbers relate to the year itself; in the second half of the registration year the first digit is raised by a value of five.
For example, a car registered in March 2013 will bear the numbers '13', while a car registered in September 2013 will be a 63-reg car.
Used cars are often advertised using both the car's year of registration and the numbers on the registration plate - this can give a more detailed idea of the car's age than you would get by knowing only the numbers on the registration plate. For example, a car registered in September 2009 might be referred to as a '09/59 car, but a car registered in January 2010 would be a '10/59 car, while a car registered in March 2010 would be a '10/10 car.
The last three letters of a number plate are chosen randomly.
Car registration years and their plate numbers