Registration plates: take our quiz to see if your number’s up

Number plates have been around for more than a century. How much do you know about them? (Picture iStock/MisterClips)

Next week is the first of the two annual new-car registration plate changes for 2021. Number plates are such a fixture of motoring you see them whenever you look at a car from the front or back. But how much do you know about them? Take our cunning quiz to find out.


Congratulations. You’ve certainly got our number! And you did a great job on the registration plate test too.

It’s easy to take for granted how much we know about something as everyday as a number plate. Sorry, but you don’t know as much as you may have hoped.

#1. The number plate for new cars changes every year in March and which other month?

The UK registration plate changes for the second time in the year in September.

#2. Which was the first country in the world to require a registration plate?

The first country to show a registration plate was France in 1893. The first US plate was a decade later. Germany didn’t require number plates until 1906.

#3. How much did the most expensive ever UK number plate sell for?

The number plate 25 0 was bought to put on a super-rare Ferrari 250GTO SWB. It sold for £518,480 in 2014.

#4. What year did the UK registration system change from once to twice a year?

Rather than having an annual August spike in new-car sales for the latest number plate, the decision was taken to make it a bi-annual thing in 1999. Now the registration changes in March and September.

#5. Magician Paul Daniels was famous for having what number plate on his car?

Rather than boasting about his ability to make people laugh or in tribute to his wife Debbie McGee, the late Paul Daniels had the more appropriate registration MAG 1C.

#6. In March 2030, the numbers on new-car registration plates will read 30. What will they be in September 2030?

The first plate change in the year for new cars reads the actual year. For the September plate change, add 50 to the year, so in 2030 it’ll be 80.

#7. How much did the world’s most expensive registration plate cost?

In 2008, Saeed Abdul Ghafour Khouri from the United Arab Emirates bought the registration plate ‘1’ for £10.1m. He put it on his Rolls-Royce Phantom that was worth less than a 20th of that…

#8. When were registration plates first a legal requirement on UK roads?

The 1903 Motor Car Act required that all cars showed a registration plate from 1 January 1904 .

#9. What do the first two letters on a UK number plate represent?

They represent where the car is from. The two numbers in the middle show the car’s age. The final three letters are completely random.

#10. In some US states you don’t need to have a licence plate on the front of the car

In 19 of the 50 US states you don’t need a front plate; you need number plates front and rear in the other 31 states.


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