Complete guide to the numberplate changeConfused by talk of 61-plate cars in September? We explain how the number plate system works in the new decade.

How does the current plate system work?

Example plate: AT61 TDR

1. The first two letters represent the ‘local memory tag’ – where the vehicle was registered. For example LA to LY for London.

2. The third and fourth digits are numbers known as the ‘age identifier’. These are changed every six months in March and September. The easiest way to remember this is to think of March as the year and September as the year plus 50. For example:

• ’12′ in March 2012 and ‘62′ in September 2012
• ’13′ in March 2013 and ‘63′ in September 2013
• ‘14 in March 2014 and ‘64′ in September 2014

3. The last three letters are randomly chosen and allocated to a dealership when the car is registered. Bear in mind some personalised plates don’t follow this system.

Is it worth waiting until March or September?

If you want to buy a new car with the latest numberplate, wait until March or September before visiting a dealership.

If you’re looking for a bargain however, it’s best to buy sooner. Dealers occasionally get rid of old stock at discount prices in February and August each year.

What was the old number plate system?

Example plate: A 470 TDR

1. The first letter is the ‘age identifier’ – representing the year the car was registered. This changed each year in August and after 1999 when it was updated every six months instead.

2. The third and fourth digits are random numbers.

3. Two of the final three letters designate the area of registration, while the other is at random.

From 1963 to 1983, the letter identifying the year of the car was at the end of the plate.

The original once-a-year plate change system was in place until 1999. Dealers would see a huge sales spike in August each year from drivers who wanted to be seen in the newest cars, which resulted in lower sales during the rest of the year.

This was phased out in 2001 and changed to the twice-annual number plate system which is still in place today.

The DVLA says the format will be reviewed and updated again in 2050.

How can I find out a car’s age?

Here’s the full list of number plate years and their age identifier for used cars:

• 1963 A
• 1964 B
• 1965 C
• 1966 D
• 1967 E/F
• 1968 F/G
• 1969 G/H
• 1970 H/J
• 1971 J/K
• 1972 K/L
• 1973 L/M
• 1974 M/N
• 1975 N/P
• 1976 P/R
• 1977 R/S
• 1978 S/T
• 1979 T/V
• 1980 V/W
• 1981 W/X
• 1982 X/Y
• 1983 Y/A
• 1984 A/B
• 1985 B/C
• 1986 C/D
• 1987 D/E
• 1988 E/F
• 1989 F/G
• 1990 G/H
• 1991 H/J
• 1992 J/K
• 1993 K/L
• 1994 L/M
• 1995 M/N
• 1996 N/P
• 1997 P/R
• 1998 R/S
• 1999 S/T/V
• 2000 V/W/X
• 2001 X/Y/51
• 2002 02/52
• 2003 03/53
• 2004 04/54
• 2005 05/55
• 2006 06/56
• 2007 07/57
• 2008 08/58
• 2009 09/59
• 2010 10/60
• 2011 11/61
• 2012 12/62
• 2013 13/63
• 2014 14/64
• 2015 15/65