When do new car registrations come out?

When do new car registrations come out?

Twice every year, we are blessed with a new age identifier on car registrations in the UK. We’ll get to what exactly an ‘age identifier’ is shortly, but these new sets of car registrations always provoke some excitement. Anyone looking to buy a car with a fun new number plate is always on the hunt for the perfect combination of letters and numbers.

If you think you might have a popular number plate, you can check out our blog ‘How much is my number plate worth?

2022 has been no different, so we’ve put together this handy blog so you can know exactly when the new car registrations come out and what you can do to get your hands on a new number plate.


When do new car registrations come out?

Every year since 2002, new car registrations have been released on the 1st of March and the 1st of September. When we talk about new car registrations, we’re talking specifically about the age identifier on a car’s number plate. That means that every car released in the UK between 1st September and 28th February will have the same age identifier. We’ll talk about the rest of the number plate and what it means shortly.

From 1st March 2022 to 31st August 2022, new car registrations were released with 22 as their age identifier. Cars with ‘22 plates’ could only be bought in that gap, and no more number plates with 22 as their age identifier can be released after that period ended.

From 1st September 2022 until February 31st 2023, every new car will be registered with a ‘72’ age identifier or a ‘72 plate’. It might seem like 72 is strange for what is essentially the second half of 2022, but there is a system. Since 2002, every decade has had a different number added to the age identifier to separate the two halves of the year. It’s looking like the system will stay the same for the foreseeable future as well, so if there are any special number plates you’ve got your eye on, you might need to wait.

This might sound a bit odd, but it’s pretty easy to understand. We’ve put together this handy table to help you get your head round things:

Years 1st March to 31st August 1st September to 28th February
2002-2009 02-09 52-59
2010-2019 10-19 60-69
2020-2029 20-29 70-79
2030-2039 30-39 80-89


2000 and 2001 used the old prefix system still for their number plates, so 00 and 01 plates never existed. If you’re after a number plate like that, you’ll have to wait for 2100 for those!

If you’re curious about private number plates and how they work, you can check out our blog ‘How do private number plates work?


How do UK car registrations work?

UK car registrations are all unique, and the system for their creation is fairly simple to understand. All number plates since 2002 have followed the same system.

There are 3 main sections to a UK car registration. From left to right they are:

  • Area code - The first 2 letters of every car registration are the regional identifier, or area code, of where the car was first registered. Every region will have their own first letter, then individual registration areas in the region will decide what the second letter is. There’s a pretty big range of options here, from AA (Anglia, Peterborough) to YY (Yorkshire, Beverley).
  • Age identifier - This is what people get excited about. The second 2 numbers on a car registration are the year the car was first registered. With two new options every year, there’s a constant stream of new number combinations. This helps people to always have new options for creating personalised number plates, so it can be a fairly competitive market.
  • Randomly generated - You may not know this, but the last 3 letters on the right-hand side of a number plate are just randomly generated. They have no meaning whatsoever. They’re just there to help separate cars that were registered in the same place at the same time, and make sure that every number plate is unique.

What else is on a new car registration?

Aside from a new age identifier, new car registrations in the UK are actually looking a little different these days than they did in the 2010s and 2000s.

Since 1st March 2021, new electric cars have included a green box next to the registration. This special little addition means that those plates can only be used on electric cars. This was introduced as an incentive to encourage more people to buy electric cars so that they could have the special little green box on their number plate.

Since leaving the EU on 1st February 2021, new cars have not needed to have a badge next to the car registration with GB identifiers and the EU stars. Instead, if you buy a new car, you can choose which badge to have next to your new registration number. You can now choose to have the letters UK, ENG, SCO, or CYMRU with their respective flags above. It’s just a touch of personalisation, but it does mean you can choose to have a dragon on your number plate if you’d like.


How can I get a new car registration?

Getting your hands on a new car registration is fairly simple, in principle: you just need to buy a new car. Rules on car registration in the UK say that you can’t put a number plate on a car that is older than the year on the number plate. So, if you want to use a 72 plate on a car, it’ll have to be a new one.

New car registrations can be a fairly competitive market and often sell fairly quickly. 2022 hasn’t been a great year for the supply of new cars in the UK, so you may struggle to get hold of a car with a 72 plate right now, unless you’ve got one on order already.

If you decide to buy a new car but want to hold onto your old number plate, you can check out our blog ‘How to put a number plate on retention’.


A few final tips…

New car registrations might seem a strange thing to get excited about, but you might be surprised to know how much of a factor it can play in the number of cars sold in a year.

Here’s a few last things to remember about the new car registrations in 2022 and beyond:

  • New car registrations are released every year on 1st March and 1st September
  • Once a car registration period has ended, all new cars released will have the new registration date
  • You can only get your hands on a new car registration if you buy a new car

Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.