What do the new '71' registration plates mean?

Overheard some baffling chatter about new '71' number plates emerging this September? The UK number plate system can seem a little confusing at first glance, so let's take a look at exactly how the system works, what the characters on a UK car registration plate mean and how you can use the new '71' plates to your advantage!


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How to read a number plate

private plate

Understanding and being able to read car registration plates is a handy skill to have; it will usually allow you to calculate the age of a vehicle (unless the plate has been changed to a custom registration number) and its place of origin, which can be useful when buying a new or used car, and knowing when the best time is to get your car valued.

What do the numbers mean?

The year in which the car was manufactured is shown by the numbers on the registration plate:

  • If the vehicle was made in March the year, it will be displayed by two digits which represent the last two digits of the actual year the car was made. For example, plates produced in March of this year feature two digits reading ‘21’, as in ‘2021’.
  • Vehicles that are produced in September will also feature two digits which represent the year; however in this case we use the digits from above, and add 50. For example, cars made in September 2021 will feature a ‘71’, because 21+50 = 71. This is why registration plates registered in September 2021 - February 2022 feature a ‘71’.

What do the letters mean?


As you probably know, the rest of the characters on a UK car registration plate are made up of letters; some of these characters mean something too…

  • Local memory tag

    The first two letters on the registration plate are a ‘local memory tag’ and identify where the car was registered. For example, LA – LY covers the London area and MA – MY covers the Manchester and Merseyside area.

  • Dealer indicator

    The last three letters on UK registration plates are randomly selected by a computer (and manually checked by humans to ensure no offensive words are produced!) and then allocated to dealers once the vehicles have been registered.

Personalised registration plates are often an exception to these rules, with people being able to pay extra for a bespoke registration plate made of a unique sequence of letters and numbers. The current system by which UK car registration plates are printed is able to run until February 2051, at which point the DVLA will likely update the number plate registration system.


How does the plate change affect me?

plate change calculation

You can use the plate change in a number of ways, based on what it is you’re looking to achieve.

Firstly, new number plates are desirable as they show your car is brand new and likely contains all of the latest features, gadgets and performance perks that come with a modern vehicle. Therefore if you buy a new car before the ‘’71’ plate change, that car could be more desirable at resale than if you were to wait.

While there are many obvious perks to owning a brand new car, there are some perks that come solely from owning a car fitted with the latest number plate. In many cases, this is a popular choice for car enthusiasts, business executives/owners and those who enjoy flaunting their latest toys and gadgets!

Secondly, buying a used car in the run-up to a new plate being released can land you a real bargain. In months directly before a new plate change (February and August) business can become a little slow for car dealers as buyers are waiting for new releases. As a result of this, dealers are much more likely to offer better deals on cars and become more flexible during any negotiation stages of the purchase.

Finally, because of the reduction in the value of older cars when a newly manufactured batch is released, the period before the plate change can be a wise time to sell, often allowing you to get more for your car before it is considered another year older. Simply put, if you sell before the 1st September, you could get a better price!

So, there we have our quick guide to reading and understanding car registration plates as well as how to use them to your advantage! Be sure to check back on the webuyanycar.com blog soon for more handy tips and guides!


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