What are dateless number plates?
Despite cars being expensive and initially only available to the wealthy, by 1903 motorised vehicles of all sizes had become so popular, an easy way for vehicle identification had to be introduced in the United Kingdom. The various DVLC vehicle offices were simply running out of letter and number combinations thanks to millions of car registrations and so a new system had to be introduced.
The very first registration mark issued under the brand new UK number plate system proudly presented “A1” for a plate issued in London and from then onwards registration marks were issued in sequential numbers with a reference to the area where the vehicle was registered and which country the registration related to, as each DVLC vehicle office (now known as DVLA vehicle office) had a unique letter sequence that would be issued to new vehicle registrations. Until 1963 the DVLC offices issued dateless number plates, after that suffix style number plates became the norm.
Number plates that are described as “dateless” show no reference to the very first registration date of a vehicle and are therefore not providing an indication to the age of the vehicle. It is not against the law to transfer or re-assign a dateless number plate to vehicles of any age - just as Northern Ireland’s number plate system doesn’t carry a date reference in the number plate. Northern Ireland still uses the pre-1963 system of vehicle registration marks. Incidentally, dateless number plates from Northern Ireland are easy to spot as they include either the letter Z or I in the mark.
Dateless number plates have continued to be popular because they are easily available and lend a charming air of nostalgia to the motoring experience. Apart from their appeal on cost and style, dateless number plates are also popular because they effectively camouflage the real age of a vehicle.
In the United Kingdom mainland dateless number plates look something like this: “1 A”
From the very first number plate “A1” eventually more letters and numbers were needed to reflect the number of vehicles on the road, so “A1” was followed sequentially by “ABC 123” or “A 123” or “123 ABC” for example.