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No Plates? No. Lots Of Plates :)

February 24, 2006
Posted in Uncategorized — Written by Nationla Numbers

I’ve never understood why the word number is often shortened to no. There’s no O in number, so why’s it not nu. or nm. or something like that? It’s probably the term “number of” shortened, and just put into regular usage as “number”. But I don’t know for sure. Can anyone shed any light on that?

The reason I ask is that as part of our ongoing SEO work, the term “no plates”, as in “number plates” often crops up as a search term people use to try and find us. How can I write any kind of tailored blurb to fit that? “We sell no plates”, oh, really? Well, I’ll go someplace they DO sell plates then…

Catch 22 innit? I guess I could put up a bunch of stuff about plates that actually have NO in them (e.g NO 9423), perhaps bulk the pages up with some pictures of Ursula Andress in a bikini from Dr. No? I dunno. Stupid English language.


Private Reg – Not Born In The USA

February 23, 2006
Posted in Other News — Written by Nationla Numbers

There’s a really good book available for anyone who’s interested in number plates, the in’s and outs of buying one, and plenty of stories about (famous) people who’ve bought them. Fanatical About Number Plates is available direct from Amazon.

Many people phone or contact us asking for private reg that simply aren’t possible to make. As outlined in a previous post there are certain formats that private reg need to follow, not least of which is the inclusion of a number (you wouldn’t believe how many people believe it possible to get just “BARRY” or “STEVE” on their number plates – they’re called NUMBER plates for a reason, m’kay?). If you can follow these rules and still make up your ideal reg, that’s great. But just because you’ve watched an episode of Knight Rider and seen that Michael Knight has KITT on his Pontiac Trans-Am doesn’t mean you can.

The US has a vastly different system of registration to that of the UK. Private reg probably aren’t as big a thing as they are here in the UK. The main reason is that you can (in most states – and availability permitting) simply pick your reg (normally 2 to 6 characters in length) and it doesn’t have to contain numbers – it just needs to be unique. In fairness the Yanks don’t call them number plates – instead opting for license plate, so we’ll let them off with that. Assuming your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) allows the reg you can pick it up for a minimum fee (and I believe there’s a yearly renewal). The plate itself has to show the state of origin, however, and some other little bits of info. But KITT would be a perfectly valid reg – if nobody else was already driving around with it on their vehicle.

Because of the total openness of the system, anyone can pick up a private reg. And because of that, they’re just not as sought after. Whereas here in the UK where all reg need to follow rigid formats, picking a private reg can make you stand out from the crowd.

Amazingly enough in the US, collecting the actual plates themselves is a popular pasttime. If you recall the classic black and silver reg of the UK of yesteryear, then the US plates are similar. Stamped out of metal, the allowed logos, decorations and stories they tell of the states they’re issued in make them collectables. Bit more interesting than our yellow and white acrylic ones no doubt.

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Number Plate Recognition

February 22, 2006
Posted in Uncategorized — Written by Nationla Numbers

I’ve just posted a news article at Nationla Numbers which details the fact that the police will be wheeling out a number of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) tools in the near future, and all the info they capture on it will be stored for up to 2 years.

To be honest, as a law abiding individual, I’m not too worried about that. But what I can’t really see is the point of it? Sure, I can see how being able to have a robot scan passing cars, check if they’re taxed/insured/owned by a mass murderer on the run is very handy. Much quicker than PC Plod cross-referencing his memory for a vague recollection of some similar info. That’ll free the coppers up to do the high speed chasing when the robot reports the info to them. You know, the fun bit of their job.

Fine. All well and good. But surely if you’re being chased by the bobbies, and they’ve got a description of your vehicle, the last thing you’re gonna do is drive around in it? Not all criminals are that stupid (some are). They’ll just pinch some plates off an innocents car and pass themselves off as them. Indeed, theft of number plates has skyrocketted since the introduction of these ANPR systems. Especially in London, where the congestion charge is in effect. Cheaper to pinch your neighbours plates than pay for access to the city. (PLUG : Buy yourself a set of personalised reg! If your number plate is REALLY unique, nobody will pinch it! It’s too much of a give away!)

Keeping the data captured by the ANPR system on file could, potentially, allow a big brother style of record to be built up that’ll show exactly where you are/were in the country at specific times, and what your driving habits are. Well, that’s not so bad either. It wasn’t that long ago that it was being suggested all vehicles will be GPS tagged so we’d pay a road tax based on mileage and what roads we use rather than a set road tax. Does which roads you drive down give away that much information about you? I know if I was tracked it’d probably reveal where I live, where I work, where I get my petrol and that I sometimes go to Tescos to do my shopping (that’d have to be an assumption – I don’t drive my car up and down the aisles).

But 2 years worth of data? I’d expect a few months, it’d help with, say, a missing persons case. Where were they last spotted? Slap in the vehicle reg and our robot friends will tell us where they were last seen driving to. And can you imagine how much storage space it’d require to keep that info handy and accessible? The DVLA struggle now to keep their records in order – and that’s just one record of each vehicle. Imagine the state those records would be in if there was multiple info for each vehicle covering each time the reg cropped up on a ANPR for 2 whole years. Chaos.

Still, I’m sure the police have thought it through. I’m sure some IT company will stick in a tender for the job of sorting it and cock it up at the tax payers expense. Can anybody shed any light on why it might be an idea to retain this kind of info for such a long period of time? Am I missing something?




Registrations On Scrapped/Written Off Vehicles

February 21, 2006
Posted in DVLA — Written by Nationla Numbers

If you’ve got a reg on a vehicle, and you manage to write it off, you CAN still salvage the number. However, you have to be fairly quick about it. Get in touch with your insurers and confirm that they don’t want the reg as part of any settlement or payout or whatever. Ask them to issue you with a letter to that effect. Your next step is to get in touch with the DVLA. Inform them that your vehicle is now in pieces but you’d like to keep the reg. They’ll ask you for the letter and arrange for the registration to be transfered onto a certificate. This can take some time. Typically you’re looking at 12 months before you’ll be seeing your reg again.

All of this HAS to be done before the vehicle is out of your hands and sitting in a scrap yard. If you scrap a vehicle without taking a number off, then that number is scrapped along with the vehicle. There’s no going back (see below for the exception). You need to remove the number (if you want to keep it) before getting rid of the car.

Many people think that if you have the V5 logbook for a vehicle then you own the mark and can do with it as you wish. That’s TOTALLY INCORRECT. The reg belongs to the vehicle. Logbooks are pretty useless when it comes down to it. We get an unbelieveable number of customers who fear releasing their logbooks to us to perform transfers (obviously we need to get the registration changed on the logbook so it matches the number going onto the car). They think that as soon as it reaches us we’ll immediately ask for a change of keeper and be able to waltz off with their car. Hmmm. If it was as simple as that we probably would :)

To kick off with we’re an honest company, long established and not fly by night. I’m sure it would do our reputation wonders if we started pinching people’s cars.
Secondly, whilst from the logbook we know where the customer lives (which we knew anyway because we ask for that info when people buy number plates from us), and hence can probably make a good guess as to where their vehicle will be located, we don’t have any keys for it do we?

And thirdly, the logbook is NOT A DOCUMENT OF TITLE. That means that anyone’s name on it isn’t necessarily the legal owner of the vehicle. Ever bought a vehicle on hire purchase or using finance? The V5 generally stays in the name of the finance company until you’ve paid it off. Otherwise folks would just sign the change of owner slip and say “Ner-ner-ner-ner-ner! It’s mine now! Nothing you can do!” – probably whilst dancing some kind of jig and pointing.

Anyhoo, I digress (again). The one exception to scrapping a vehicle and being able to retain the reg is if you can make the vehicle roadworthy again. If less than a year has passed since the vehicle was scrapped, you may have a SLIM chance of retrieving the number. You’d need to get the vehicle restored, taxed and tested and then apply to take the reg from it. Of course, the DVLA may turn round and simply dismiss it, or say that the reg must remain on the vehicle, or (if you’re lucky) agree to transfer the number for you (either onto certificate or another vehicle).

If it’s been more than 12 months since the scrapping of the vehicle, then your chances are greatly reduced. Otherwise we’d just wander into our local scrap yard, find the shell of a classic car with a brilliant plate on it, restore it to it’s former glory, retrieve the reg and sell it on for HUGE sums of money. As it is, in these cases the DVLA will query if the reg is part of the original car, and that the car is indeed “original” enough. If you’ve only got the steering wheel and build a whole new car around it you’re not going to be entitled to the reg back…

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DVLA Registration Prices

February 19, 2006
Posted in DVLA — Written by Nationla Numbers

The DVLA have adjusted their prices on C, D and G registrations. Usually it’s a rare occurrence for them to ever adjust prices, so dropping them on 3 lots of prefix letters is a bit of a biggy. When you look at it though, the C reg have been on the market since 1985, so lowering the price now isn’t exactly going to make hundreds of prime reg available at basement prices – they’ve been well picked over in the meanwhile.

But, you may find that the adjustment in price will tempt you into buying one. Check them out.

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Number Plates Are Forever

February 17, 2006
Posted in Uncategorized — Written by Nationla Numbers

The new style of registration that came into use in 2001 was originally thought to be a bit rubbishy in terms of what words/names you could make out of it. However, whilst some number sequences offer very little in terms of look-a-like options (06 – what can you make out of that? OG? How many names/words can you think of that have OG in the middle of them?), it does offer the occassional gem. And where the number is usable (55 was a good sequence, plenty of SS terms you can squeeze out of that), you get a HUGE range of great looking number plates.

Sadly, because of the way the system works your ideal reg may require use of a specific number, and that means you have to wait until that number comes rolling round. OO78 OND (007 BOND), for example, would be a cracking plate for any would be secret agent. The catch? 78 signifies the year of release, and that’s not going to be available until the second half of 2028.

Only 22 years to go. This does give you time to get saving though. Reckon you’ll have enough stashed away to buy and Aston Martin to put the reg on?


Number Plate Formats

February 15, 2006
Posted in Uncategorized — Written by Nationla Numbers

Off I go ranting about witheld reg and I’ve not yet given you the low down on what number plate formats there actually are yet.

There’s 5 main types of registration.

The first one is termed a prefix plate. You’re probably familiar with these. A single letter – which is an identifier of the age of the vehicle – a number (1, 2 or 3 digits), and three more letters. Something like A567 TRD. They’re called prefix plates as it’s the prefix letter that discloses the age of the vehicle. Incase you hadn’t twigged.

These ran from 1983 through to 2001. Starting with A reg, and ending in Y. There were never any I, O, U, Q or Z prefix letters. I’s look too much like the number 1. O’s like a zero. U’s looked a bit too much like a V. Z was never a letter used in British number plates (see more on this below) and the Q was used on “special case” vehicles.

You might’ve spotted a Q reg on the road at somepoint. Essentially these reg are given to vehicles where their age is undetermined. Some imports, cars that have been stolen and recovered, kit cars, cut and shuts – things like that. They’re not part of general use and can’t be transferred to or from these vehicles. They’re stuck with them for their lives.

Prior to the prefix format, we had the suffix format. Three letters, a number (1, 2 or 3 digits) and a year identifying letter. Amazingly enough so called because the year identifier was the last (suffix) letter. No duh.

This ran from 1963 to 1983 when the prefix format took over. Like the prefix system, it started at A and ran through the alphabet to Y, skipping the same special letters. An example reg would be TRD 567A.

Prior to that there was just chaos. Cars were assigned numbers based on their regional location, what the county council felt like that day, and what the weather was like. I’m sure there was SOME kind of pattern, but the reg carried no discernable year identifiers and so are termed dateless reg.

Dateless reg cover the likes of your classic A 1. They can have one, two or three letters, followed by 1, 2 or 3 digits. Or the other way around. 1, 2 or 3 digits followed by 1, 2 or 3 letters. So for every A 1, there’d be a 1 A. These pre-date 1963 and go back to the start of the 20th century, so carry a lot of history with them. The sad thing about these reg is that many will simply have faded away with the vehicles they were on when they were scrapped. It’s only a handful of foresighted individuals who’ve managed to retain their reg and pass them along that can offer them for sale today.

Q, Z and I are letters excluded from these dateless reg.

Our fourth type of registration is the Irish reg. You can use Irish issued registrations on English/Scottish/Welsh registered cars. These reg are very similar to our classic dateless registrations, but ALWAYS contain an I or a Z in their letter combinations which makes them identifiable. 2 or 3 letters followed by 1, 2, 3 or 4 digits or the reverse (1, 2, 3 or 4 digits then 2 or 3 letters). These are great if you’re lucky enough to have a name like BAZ or GAZ. The order in which they’re released is a little cryptic (as our dateless reg were), but basically in Ireland they’ll pick a 3 letter sequence – e.g OIL, and issue all the reg from OIL 1 to OIL 9999, and when they run out, pick another three letters and start again.

The fifth and final type of number plate you’ll see on UK roads is the new style which came into play in 2001. Sometime reffered to as millennium reg because of this.

When the prefix system ran out of combinations this new format was introduced to take over. rather than rely on a letter as a year identifier (as with the prefix & suffix formats), the system works using a number to identify the age of the vehicle it’s on. First off, in late 2001, we had 51. The 5 signifying the second half of the year, the 1 representing 2001. In early 2002 we had 02 reg. Followed by 52. Then 03, 53, 04, 54, 05, 55 and so on. Eventually we’ll work our way up to 99 in 2049 and they’ll have to come up with another new system, but that’s some 45 years away yet.

The rest of the reg is made up of 2 letters, the identifying number (which is always 2 digits), and three more letters. The front 2 represent the area of the country the car was registered in, the last three are just random letters – e.g AB51 GHV.

For the first time, the letter Z was allowed in these reg BUT only in the last three letters. So you can now pick up GAZ and BAZ plates such as AA51 BAZ (lb699) that simply weren’t possible combinations outside of Ireland until now.

And that is your lot.

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New Style Number Plates

February 14, 2006
Posted in DVLA — Written by Nationla Numbers

What about this new style of reg then? The DVLA can’t hold back a select number of them based on their numbers any more. They’ve all got the same one. So now, they do the quick scan to pick out premium reg – reg that clearly spell something in their entrity – for auction, and instead of holding back a range of reg, make every one of them available.

For the period of 1 month before their issue, all 7 million possible combinations (excluding the auction reg and any rude words) are put on the market. At the end of the month, the range is culled to 2 million reserved (not really sure what defines those kept back – stuff like MR at the front seems to be the pattern) and the leftovers then become standard issue for vehicles.

So, when the 51 reg came out in late 2001 everything was made available to buy. If you wanted a particular reg. And it wasn’t rude. Then on the day of release the range was cut down to a few (if you can consider 2 million a few), with anything that was left unpurchased becoming standard fodder for new vehicles.

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