Paul’s Photo Challenge: Make You Smile

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 current system for Great Britain was introduced on 1 September 2001. Each registration index consists of seven characters with a defined format.


British_vehicle_registration_plate(Cymru_side_badge) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Registrations having a combination of characters that are particularly appealing (resembling a name, for example) are auctioned each year. But when a registration can’t quite match what is required there is a code for translation. For instance the letter A can be represented by the number 4 or a B by the number 8 or even 13.

A practical example; I might want


which is the 2 initials of my first names and the 4 letters of my last name.

That could be made up with


Now that 11 doesn’t really look like an H but If I attach one of the mounting screws directly in the centre of the 11 then from a distance it will look like an H

Paul's Photo Challenge: Make You Smile

Prior to 2001 the number plate system consisted of fewer numbers and letters and many of the personalised number plates are made from these older registration plates.

The numbers and letters must be spaced correctly otherwise the registration plate is illegal and it is not unknown for the police to have occasional crackdowns on illegal plates. Repeat offenders can lose their personalised registration

Personally I don’t have a personalised number plate, nor would I consider buying one. Oh yes you have to ante up if you want one. But it is sometimes fun when you’re driving along the motorway reading the personalised number plates.

This is topic number 7 in Paul’s Photography Challenge

11 thoughts on “Paul’s Photo Challenge: Make You Smile

  1. Nice explanation. I had to laugh at all the variables that you derived. We have personailzed plates here as well, but the ante is upped too. I don’t have a luxury vehicle nor would I be that vain to display some clever combo of letters and numbers that would be eye catching. The state makes these after one sends in what they want on their plates. Then everything is checked to make sure there is no vulgarity displayed. 🙂


        1. Official plates are printed by car dealers or registered autospares dealers. The unofficial plates should not be fitted to a vehicle that is on the road but if it is used for car shows etc that’s different.


  2. Yes, we have those here, too. They call them “vanity plates”. Very apt I would say. Good, understated choice for the smile topic. 😀


    1. I could never understand why someone would pay over the odds for a number plate that wasn’t exactly what they wanted. I once worked with someone who not only had a personal plate, his wife, son and daughter did as well, but they couldn’t get the exact representation of the latter A so they used a 4 instead.


  3. I cannot get my head around the fact that some personal plates command prices in the thousands 🙂
    I could think of far better things to spend my money on.
    V1 CKY 😉


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