UK Number Plates To Change

A guide to the changes to the UK number plates from September 2021.

UK Number Plate Changes

Every six months, a new set of identifying numbers are released for the UK’s vehicle number plates. In September 2021 this was ‘71’. However, this was not the only change introduced with a range of new rules for displaying number plates in the UK. Read our guide below to find out more.  

September Changes For Motor Vehicles

The DVLA has announced new regulations for UK number plates. These include: 

  • Must be made from a reflective material  
  • Black characters on a white background (front) or yellow (rear) 
  • Not have a background pattern  
  • Have the marking of the original supplier of the number plate.  
  • Be marked with the British Standard number – BS AU 145e 

The black characters on number plates should not be removable or reflective and if fitted after 1st September 2021, they should only be in a single shade of black.  

The DVLA allows the black characters to be 3D (raised). You are also allowed to display certain flags and symbols as long as these do not obscure the characters and background of the number plate. The characters must all be a certain height, size and spacing of each other. More information can be found on the DVLA website.  

Finally, you may notice a green flash on registration plates. This indicates the car is zero-emission and you are likely to see more of these as electric cars become more popular. 



Changes For Motorbikes And Trailers

Motorbikes registered on or after 1st September 2001 should only display a number plate at the rear of the vehicle. The rear number plate should be displayed across two lines of text to ensure the plate is not too wide.  

Motorbikes registered before then can display a number plate at the front but do not need to.  

When towing a trailer, the trailer must display the same number plate as the vehicle towing it. This must be fixed to the rear of the trailer, clearly on display.  

When going abroad some trailers may also need to be registered. This means there will be two number plates to display. Fix the trailer registration plate as far away as possible from the towing vehicle’s number plate. Make sure both are clearly visible.  

UK Number Plate Format

In 1999, the method of new car registrations changed from a new release once a year to twice a year in March and September, using a numbered system. These numbers correlate with the year in which the car was registered.  

In March the system uses the number of the year, in 2021 this will be '21', replacing the 70 plate from September 2020. You can read our 21 plate guide here. In September, a number is placed before the year code. From 2000-2009, this number was '5', from 2010 to 2019 the number as '6' and from 2020 it as '7' to avoid repetitions. In September 2021 the code will be 71. 

The two letters before the numbers correlate to the location of registration for example AF refers to the Peterborough DVLA office. Whilst the final three letters are random to ensure that no two number plates are the same.  


71 Plate Offers

Fancy being one of the first to be driving around in a 71 plate car? Check out our new car offers and find the perfect car for you from electric and hybrid cars to petrol and diesel, hatchbacks and estates to sports cars and SUVs.  Your can read our guide to the best 2021 models here.

Browse our latest new car offers.