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Registration Plates

Vehicle registration plates are the mandatory number plates used to display the registration mark of a vehicle, and have existed in the United Kingdom since 1904. It is compulsory for most motor vehicles used on public roads to display them.

The Motor Car Act 1903, which came into force on 1 January 1904, required all motor vehicles to be entered on an official vehicle register, and to carry number plates. The Act was passed in order that vehicles could be easily traced in the event of an accident or contravention of the law. Vehicle registration number plates in the UK are rectangular or square in shape, with the exact permitted dimensions of the plate and its lettering set down in law.

Within the UK itself there are two numbering systems: one for Great Britain, which dates from 2001, and another for Northern Ireland, which is similar to the original 1904 system. Both systems are administered by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea; until July 2014, Northern Ireland's system was administered by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Coleraine, which had the same status as the DVLA. Other schemes relating to the UK are also listed below.