What Are Suffix Style Number Plates?

Since the first car number plate was issued in the UK in 1903, the format and layout has changed a few times. Changes to the style of UK number plates over the past 100 years or so has often caused much confusion among those who have an interest in buying and selling private registration numbers.

Suffix style number plates were introduced in 1963, and were the first to have a letter to indicate the year the registration number was issued, also called a year identifier. They are called suffix style because the year identifier is the last letter. Here are a couple of examples:

ABC 321R


This type of registration number always starts with three letters, followed by up to three numbers, and then ends with the single letter. The last letter indicates the year the registration number was issued. A new suffix letter was issued in the August of each year until the letters ran out with ‘Y’ in 1982. So in 1983 the year identifying letter was moved to the beginning, creating what’s now called prefix style.

The value of a suffix style number plate really depends on the characters it has, and the number of digits. This type of cherished registration is less common, simply because most of them were lost when the vehicles they belonged to were scrapped. And that certainly means that their value has increased over the years, especially the good ones that display names. They’re also more desirable because the main characters or word comes at the beginning. For example ROB 34W generally has more appeal than the later prefix style W34 ROB.

The increasing popularity of private number plates has meant that their value has seen a rise, though this doesn’t necessarily apply to all of them. It all depends on the level of demand for that combination of letters. A suffix style number plate can fetch anything from a few hundred pounds to several thousand pounds.

Buying and transferring a private registration can be shrouded in mystery and confusion. And the different formats adds to that. Prices can vary considerably. There are some basic rules to follow, but the biggest tip is to use a price comparison service to make shopping around much easier.