Introduction to Vehicle Registrations

Car registrations have fascinated people since they were first introduced. They are commonly known as "cherished registrations" but are legally known as "registration marks". Other terms are "personal plates", "cherished numbers", "personalised number plates", "cherished plates". The long term existence of Elite Registrations Ltd in the marketplace has also led to some people calling registration marks, "elite registrations" (a result of the extensive advertisements that have appeared in the national newspapers for many decades).

The History of UK Registrations

1903 - Motor Car Act

It was back in 1903 that the Road Traffic Act received Royal Assent. All motorised vehicles were required to be registered with a unique registration mark together with a record of the person responsible for using the vehicle on the public highway.

1 January 1904 - Registration Day

Registration day was 1st January 1904, and so it all began. The owner of the vehicle bearing the registration A 1 was understandably envied by other motorists and this spectacular registration was admired by many. It was truly cherished by the owner, Earl Russell.

Another interesting plate from the initial series of registrations was Y 1. This was acquired by Arthur Thring, who by coincidence happened to be the person (First Parliamentary Counsel) responsible for drafting the Registration Act.

3 March 1904 - First Vehicle to Vehicle Transfer

The first transfer of a registration from one vehicle to another was on 3rd March 1904, when Dr. Robert Lauder of Southampton, transferred the registration CR 1 from a 5hp Kimberley car to an 11hp Clement.

1956 - 1962

By 1956 the registration A 1 had been transferred 37 times and a few years later was sold for £2,500. The resultant publicity about this fantastic sum of money being exchanged for the right to display a particular registration number on a car was the likely catalyst for general interest. By 1960 Local Taxation Offices were inundated with requests for distinctive registrations. It became the first sale of registration marks by Government Departments. The cost was £5 (inclusive of transfer) no matter what registration you wanted. Within two years the demand was so overwhelming that it was stopped altogether.

1963 - Introduction of the SUFFIX format of registrations

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1983 - Introduction of the PREFIX format of registrations

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1989 - The Sale of Registration Marks Regulations

The Government reintroduced the sale of unissued registration marks in 1989 ("The Sale of Registration Marks Regulations 1989").

2001 - Introduction of the CURRENT format of registrations

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2013 - DVLA Local Offices

DVLA closed their network of DVLA local offices and centralised all transfers at DVLA in Swansea

2014 - DVLA takes over DVA (NI)

DVLA took over managing the record of vehicles from DVA (NI) meaning that Northern Ireland clients were able to now take advantage of all of DVLA's transfer options.

2015 - DVLA introduces online Retention and Assignment options

Retention Documents and Certificates of Entitlement renewed or issued after 9th March 2015 are now valid for 10 years. The retention fee (previously £25) has now been removed.

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