Curious about prefix number plates? Look no further. This all-inclusive guide is designed to explain what prefix registrations entail, how you can identify them, and during which years they were in circulation.

Table of Contents

  • The Evolution of Prefix Number Plates
  • Reasons for Phasing Out the Prefix System
  • Detailed Chart: Years and Letters of Prefix Number Plates


To expand your knowledge of other types of UK car registration systems, you can also consult our guides on suffix number plates, dateless number plates, and current-style registrations. Or, for a broader understanding, browse our complete chart detailing all UK car registration years.

What Defines a Prefix Number Plate?

Active in the UK from August 1983 through July 2001, prefix number plates are one of the four primary vehicle registration systems in the country. These plates feature an initial letter, serving as an indicator of the vehicle’s registration year.

The Anatomy of a Prefix Number Plate

jdm plates prefix number plates registration example

  • The foremost letter acts as the age identifier. For example, ‘A’ represents vehicles registered from August 1983 to July 1984.
  • Following the age identifier are three arbitrary numbers that uniquely identify the vehicle from others registered during the same period.
  • The concluding letters usually signify the area code, such as ‘AN’ for Reading.

Timeframe for Prefix Registrations

The prefix system was inaugurated in August 1983, starting with the letter ‘A’, and sequentially moved through the alphabet until it concluded with the letter ‘Y’ in 2001.

Age Identifiers and Corresponding Years

Prefix Letter

Registration Window

A August 1983 to July 1984
B August 1984 to July 1985
C August 1985 to July 1986
Y March 2001 to July 2001

Why Are Some Letters Missing in Prefix Plates?

Have you noticed that certain letters are missing from the prefix system?

  • Letters ‘I’ and ‘Z’ are exclusively reserved for Northern Ireland.
  • ‘O’ is omitted to steer clear of confusion with the number ‘0’.
  • ‘U’ is skipped to prevent it from being mistaken for ‘V’.
  • ‘Q’ is reserved for vehicles with unconfirmed manufacturing dates.

The Issuance Schedule for Prefix Plates

Originally, the prefix system supplanted the older suffix registration system in August 1983. Initial demand led to an annual release each August. To mitigate this rush, the system was revised to a biannual issuance from August 1984. This, however, expedited the depletion of available prefix combinations, resulting in the adoption of the current registration system in 2001.

Restrictions on Using Prefix Number Plates

While transferring plates between cars is common, prefix plates have limitations. They can’t be fitted on vehicles registered before August 1983 as it’s against the law to make a car appear younger than it actually is.

Discover Your Ideal Prefix Plates With JDM Plates

Choose from an array of combinations to find a prefix plate that aligns with your name, profession, or interests. JDM Plates offers an extensive range of private registration options. Just use the JDM Plates search engine to uncover the right fit for you.

Once you’ve made your choice, you can purchase your customized plate directly from our website. We’re also here to guide you through the process of filling out all requisite government paperwork to facilitate the plate transfer or assignment to your vehicle.

Other options available at JDM Plates

Here at JDM Plates, we also offer Suffix Number Plates, Dateless Registration Numbers and the normal Current Number Plates via our purchasing portal!

Why Use JDM Plates For Your New Number Plates?

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