Vehicle registration in the UK
Cars are registered through the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in the United Kingdom (UK). Vehicle registration number—also known as the car license plate—is the number that identifies the vehicle and will be assigned to a vehicle as part of the registration and taxation process. The number will then stay with the vehicle until it has been “broken up, destroyed or exported permanently out of the country” (from a GOV.UK document) unless it has been requested by the registered owner to be allocated to another vehicle. The license plate number is mandatory for checking if the car is insured.
As of 1 September 2001, the plate format consists of 4 features.
Two letters (the DVLA memory tag), referring to the region in the country where the vehicle is first registered.
Two numbers (the age identifier), referring to when the vehicle is registered.
Space and three letters are chosen at random to distinguish your plate with the other plate registered at the same time and place.
A list of DVLA memory tags and age identifiers can be easily found online or visit GOV.UK, the official website for the UK government for the most up-to-date information.
The format and sequence of the numbers and letters on the plate must not be changed or altered for any reason, it must be easy to read. You will be fined up to £1,000 if your car is driven with the incorrectly displayed license plate number. In some severe cases, the registered number might be permanently withdrawn from your ownership.
The number of plates must be made from a reflective material and not have a background pattern. The front plate must be white in the background with black text, and the rear must be in black characters with a yellow background. The plate must be provided by a supplier registered with DVLA, the Department of Transport holds a full list of suppliers.
When you get the number plates made up, you must display documents that prove your identity and your address, and also provide documents that show you are eligible to use the registration number. If you want, you can also display the European symbol and GB national identifier or national flags on your number plate. The national flags must be displayed on the left-hand side of the number plate. It can either be the Union flag, the Cross of St George, the Saltire (Cross of St Andrew) or the Red Dragon of Wales.
If you are travelling within the European Union and do not have a GB national identifier on your plate, you will receive a GB sticker. If you chose to display the European symbol and the GB national identifier, then you are exempted from the sticker. The symbol must be reflective (in white or yellow), at least 98mm tall and between 40mm to 50mm wide, according to the EC Council Regulation 2411/98. You will still need a GB sticker if you display one of the national flags as above mentioned.
For more detailed information and more legislation updates regarding vehicle registration or car number plates, please visit GOV.UK under ‘Driving and Transport’.