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How the Tax Disc Changes with Affect You?

October 10, 2014
Posted in DVLA,Editorial,Other News — Written by Nationla Numbers

If you have taxed since October 1st you will have noticed something different in how the DVLA issue tax discs to you. In fact it is very different, because they don’t issue a tax disc at all any more. You still have to tax your vehicle but you do not get anything to display.

The recent launch of this new system has been nothing less than chaotic with the website crashing on the very first day due to what has been called “unprecedented demand”. Servers are back up and running though and approximately 270,000 people have been through to process. However there are still millions of people unclear on how these changes affect the grand scheme of things. The article should hopefully cover the issues.

UK Tax Disc

How does this affect number plate transfers?

In order to transfer a number plate any vehicle involved needs to be taxed and as proof of this a copy of the tax disc must be sent to us at Nationla Numbers so we can forward it to the DVLA. In the event that a copy of the tax disc could not be sent to us we could get by with the expiry date and the serial number. We still advise you still send us this when possible.

If you no longer have a tax disc we technically will not need to take anything, as the DVLA should acknowledge the vehicle as taxed when the transfer is submitted. However because of this we cannot conduct any checks ourselves. E.g. in the past if we receive a tax disc that looks like it will expire before transfer is complete we would advise customers to send us the tax application as well to avoid delays.

Customers must be mindful of when their tax expires and how long the transfer can take as if it is submitted and the tax runs out the DVLA will simply kick it out and we’ll have to start from scratch. For that reason we will still likely ask for tax information such as the expiry date.

How does this affect the DVLA?

The DVLA claim that the new paperless tax disc system will save them lb10million annually thanks to the obvious need for less printing and posting. Administration processes are set to receive a cut because of the increasing amount of paperless services – including the ability to tax online.

DVLA are striving to do away with as many pieces of paper as possible. They’ve already announced plans to do-away with old style paper driving licences at the end of the year, sending out photocards to anyone who renews afterwards, and they will only continue to streamline more and more of their processes in the future.

How does this affect the public?

In theory the public should receive a simple and easy service without much hassle at all. As of November 1st the DVLA will start allowing direct debit payments on tax renewals, which is immensely convenient, as well as the ability to pay for tax monthly (previously drivers only had the option to pay for 6 or 12 months). The DVLA have made these changes with the public very much in mind.

One source though explains that disc-less tax could end up costing taxpayers an extra lb38million every year due primarily to the sale of used vehicles. Previously when a vehicle was sold the owner could pass unused tax to the new owner, but this has been changed. Now all new owners would be expected to tax the vehicle from the 1st of every month and the seller will only be refunded on whole months of unused tax.

e.g. A sale on a vehicle taxed until the end of November goes through on October 25th. The seller of that vehicle will receive a refund for November while buyer pays two months tax for the rest of October and November. In that case the DVLA have gained an extra month of tax than they would under the old system. At an average of lb14 for monthly tax and 2.73million cars sold annually you can see how DVLA will be making a pretty penny.

Will this lead to more untaxed vehicles?

There is a fear that the removal of the tax disc could lead to more drivers deliberately or mistakenly driving around without any tax or insurance. In a survey conducted by the RAC 63% or drivers were worried about this, while 44% believed it would encourage drivers to break the law. While admittedly it would be impossible for members of the public to spot and report untaxed vehicles it should actually be easier for authorities to catch tax dodgers thanks to speed cameras.

Speed cameras use number plate recognition to identify vehicles and bring up a digital record of the tax. Unpaid duty is immediately flagged up and a fine is automatically issued to the driver’s address. Unless a driver somehow manages to avoid all speed cameras it’d be almost impossible for them to last long without tax and insurance.

Of course, some technophobes argue that digital records are unreliable and could lead to some drivers being wrongfully fined, but this remains to be seen. The DVLA will still be issuing tax reminders to motorists coming up to their renewal date and warnings to drivers that have let their tax expire, so there should not be an issue will drivers simply forgetting they need to tax their vehicle.

What should I do with my old tax disc?

Well, we have a few ideas …


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How do car number plate readers work?

February 19, 2014
Posted in DVLA,Media,Other News — Written by Sam Ryder

There has been a spark of interest over these nifty little machines recently. As the use of number plate readers increase over the next few years there are going to be more questions from the public about that they do and what they are for, not to mention more scaremongering from those who might have to believe this is one more steps towards a 1984 dystopia.

Did you know that number plate readers were actually invented in 1976, but have come a long way since then. When previously technology was limited and things like light, vehicle speed, how the plates were spaced and even what angle they where captured could skew the reading, now some clever clogs has perfected the system that eliminates most common inaccuracies.

Since then number plate readers, or Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to give them their proper name, have been impeccable public servants.

How number plate readers work …

Number plate recognition involves capturing a video or an image of a vehicle’s license plates and running them through a system of algorithms that converts the image to a text entry into a computer. The computers can then look up and all information in the vehicle’s history.

This is difficult to programme if you think about it. If you look at CAPTCHA images for example you can see why. Computers can only read data – as in text entry – and when confronted with an image it can only make out a bunch of pixels. Unlike the human eye it cannot pick out patterns and can therefore no read like we can. This is why this is so difficult and it takes a number of defining rules to make it possible.

1. Localisation

This algorithm determines which part of the vehicle the number plate reader looks at. Much like facial recognition of your camera phone, the localisation rule identifies key features of the vehicle and rules them out. For example, the bumper, the headlights, the mirrors, etc. Once these features have been identified and then ignored the camera is left with only the number plate to look at.

2. Sizing and Orientation

This part of the number plate reader’s algorithm accounts for distance and angular skews that may distort the image. This is the sort of thing you might see used alongside CCTV footage. It takes an image that is off angle and adjusts it into regular size and appearance. Obviously this correction makes the characters easier to read.

3. Normalisation

Like sizing and orientation this algorithm you might have previously seen alongside CCTV footage, however this corrects for blur, colour, brightness and contrast. Once again this makes the registration easier for the number plate reader to make sense of.

4. Segmentation

Faced with what we might think of a standard, front-and-centre picture of a number plate the ANPRs can really start getting to work. This part also makes it clear exactly why we have strict rules when it comes to how number plates can be displayed.

How segmentation works is be defining the boundaries in which the computer expects a character to appear in. It figuratively draws a box around each letter and uses those boxes to work out each letter individually. This is why the DVLA come down hard on anyone who changes the spacing or font on a number plate, since this stops the number plate reader doing its job!

5. OCR or Optical Character Recognition

This is the part where humans have to help a bit. Once the machine has isolated a character it is essentially left with a box of pixels that don’t make a lot of sense. Humans have to tell the number plate readers how to turn the pixels into letters by pre-programming the patterns to be expected. This is why font and size are important.

Upon recognition of these letters the computer can match the pattern to a specific letter, thus triggering an actual text entry. This obviously makes the searching and the reporting effortless on the technological side of things.

6. Analysis

This final step is so fast it is barely even a step. Using the number plate in text form it can check certain characters against their position on the number plate to check for age, area of registration and much more. It can use this to not only look up vehicle history but also add to that history. It literally takes milliseconds to do, but as you can see this function is the whole point of number plate readers in the first place.

We are now at a time when ANPRs are incredibly useful to society and really are not anything new to be scared of. In fact, they have been in wider-scale use since the 1990s and these modern versions have been very successful helping the DVLA and the police.

So why the bother? Probably because UK the most watched population in the world. In this country we have nearly 5 million CCTV cameras, which makes us the most watched population in the world. They say most Britons can’t go a regular working day within being filmed by 300 CCTV cameras. Feeling frightened? Feeling safe? No matter what side of the argument you fall on, CCTV and number plate readers are here to stay.


By . Sam is Nationla Numbers’s resident busy-body and writer. She is new to the game but she is learning fast. Keep a look out for her other content, as well as her writing which you can find across the internet.

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See the trailer for Gran Turismo 6!

May 16, 2013
Posted in Media,Other News — Written by Nationla Numbers


Posted yesterday by PlayStation, the official announcement trailer for the sixth installment of the Gran Turismo series.

As you will see, it is pretty epic.

Probably not enough of the cars to judge the true quality of the graphics, but with this intended for the PS4 release we can expect great things.

See the trailer below:

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BBC SP12 OTY – Congratulations Bradley Wiggins

December 17, 2012
Posted in Interesting,Media,Other News — Written by Nationla Numbers

Nationla Numbers would like to congratulate Bradley Wiggins on being crowned the Sports Personality of the Year by BBC.

Wiggins had a fantastic 2012, winning an Olympic gold medal for Team GB as well as becoming the first Britain to win the Tour de France.

The Vélo d’Or holder beat other Olympic heroes Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Andy Murray to the prize, saying it is his “greatest sporting achievement”.

Like the rest of the country, we are proud of Wiggo and if he wanted to trade the cycle in for a car we would happily help him find his perfect personalised registration plate.

We aren’t lucky enough to know where W1 GGO is these days (give us a call if you want to point us in the right direction!), but I’m sure we can find something suitable.

He could easily get his name on a plate. BRA 9W for example has no current owner. If that isn’t suitable, what about initials? You can even get BW13 CBE to highlight Wiggo’s title.

Mr Wiggins could also cap off his career-defining year with a plate bragging another great achievement – VE10 DOR (for Vélo d’Or).

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A Royal F11 KUP

August 24, 2012
Posted in Humour,Media,Other News — Written by Nationla Numbers

Image not related, promise.

Image not related, promise.

It looks like Prince Harry has made a show of himself but it probably wasn’t the best way to go about it. He should have just bought a private registration from Nationla Numbers.

For those who haven’t heard the news, Prince Harry’s crown jewels have been all over the internet and have today been published in the Sun newspaper, despite efforts from the Royal Family and the Press Complaints Commission to stop it.

In defence of the young Royal, he was just having a bit of fun on his holidays. What is that old saying? “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

However, if Harry wanted a good time there are plenty of ways to do it without taking all your clothes off. In fact, why not put something on that is much more eye-catching?

We have plenty of rude number plates available for those feeling in the mood. Be like the Prince and get FR51 SKY, expose a PEN 7S to the public (in a way that won’t get you arrested), or just stand there proud of your BON 3R.

If that isn’t becoming of the third in line to the throne perhaps young HH54 RRY could splash out on our PR11 NZE number plate.

For more please check out our website.

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Sergio Pininfarina: A Retrospective

July 5, 2012
Posted in Cars,Other News — Written by Nationla Numbers
Sergio Pininfarina passes away aged 85

Sergio Pininfarina passes away aged 85

The automotive world mourns the death of Sergio Pininfarina, the legendary car designer behind the some of the supercar industry’s most historic concepts. From the Ferraris he is synonymous with to the many other manufacturers he worked with over the year, his insignia became a symbol of quality, slick design. More than that though Pininfarina was a patriot who had a hand in rebuilding Italy’s standing as a romantic and beautiful place.

The Beginning

Born Sergio Farina in Turin, Italy in 1926. Four years later his father, Battista “Pinin” Farina, founded a coachbuilding business that Sergio would run years later. The company (then Carrozzeria Pinin Farina) specialised in custom-made body designs for individual customers or for small-scale productions. Battista and Pinin Farina gained considerable recognition for the innovative Cisitalia 202 design, which became an attraction in the New York Museum of Modern Art.

Sergio himself would work with his father as early as 1946. Left out of the Paris Motor Show the father and son team drove to France and left two cars, the Lancia Aprilla cabriolet and the Alfa Romeo RC 2500 S, outside of the venue to garner the attention of guests and further grow the company’s reputation.

In 1950 he graduated from Turin Polytechnic with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and quickly joined his father’s company. It was one year later that Sergio was put in charge of an account that would go on to define him: Ferrari. Recalling the life-changing moment in 2006, Sergio said: “I was scared to death because Enzo Ferrari was already a legend in car racing and notorious for being difficult to deal with.” The two would of course go on to forge a long-lasting relationship that saw Sergio Pininfarina become instrumental to Ferrari’s designs.

Industry Icon


Sergio Pininfarina was known as a innovator.

Ferrari Chairman, Luca di Montezemolo says it best: “Calling his relation with Ferrari legendary is insufficient. First with Enzo and then with me, he designed some of the most iconic models, such as the Testarossa or the Enzo, just to name two.”

Sergio showed a high work ethic from an early age and pushed for the company to expand. He was managing director by 1961 and became chairman in 1966 following the death of his father. It was at this time that Sergio changed his legal surname to Pininfarina. He led his business from the front for the next 40 years, designing cars for the biggest names in the industry.

It is fair to say that Sergio would change the way supercars were made in numerous ways, but one specific innovation was the mid-mounted engine that became standard practice amongst car manufacturers, especially Ferrari. Every GT since the 1952 Ferrari 212 Inter Cabriolet came out of the factory doors bearing the name ‘Pininfarnia’, certainly an achievement in his long relationship with the company.

From Ferrari, to Fiat, to Alfa Romeo, to Peugeot, to Cadillac and many others, car manufacturers looked to the Italian company for design expertise. Sergio was at the heart of it with trend-setting designs like the sharp edges and flat panels that became calling cards for him. His designs won Sergio plenty of awards, including a Cavaliere del Lavoro (Italy), a Royal Designer for Industry (UK), and a Designer Lifetime Achievement Award (US).

Sergio also showed on multiple occasions that he was ahead of his time. He was an early advocate of an environmentally friendly car industry, working hard to increase fuel economy and reduce carbon emissions. He held a great interest in hybrid vehicles and in 1972 opened Italy’s first wind tunnel. Today, Pininfarina has a high focus on electric cars going forward.

Treasured Citizen

“An exceptional person who connected his name indissolubly with our history and our success. Sergio was one of the most important advocates of Made in Italy all over the world, a man who gave Italy credibility and splendor. An example not just of an entrepreneur, but also known for his civic duties, he spread with great passion for his country. He demonstrated it as President of Confindustria, Member of Parliament and Senator for life.” True words spoken once again by Sergio’s friend and business partner, Luca di Montezemolo.

Sergio Pininfarina was a proud Italian and helped his country change its fortunes coming out of World War II. Many accredit the countries strong standing in the fashion and design industry to the work put in by Pininfarina’s car designs in the early days.

From 1974 to 1977, Sergio rejoined Turin Polytechnic as Professor of Car Body Design. He was a member of European Parliament for the Italian Liberal Party from 1979 to 1988. He served as the head of Italy’s Industrial Employers Confederation from 1988 to 1992. In 2005 he was named as a Senator for life of the Italian Republic.

Sergio Pininfarina: 1926 - 2012

Sergio Pininfarina: 1926 - 2012

Sergio Pininfarina died in the town he was born, Turin, on July 3rd 2012 at the age of 85. He is survived by his wife (Georgia), his son (Paolo), and his daughter (Lorenza). He will be dearly missed by Italy and the car manufacturing industry.


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Most Expensive Number Plate? – Here’s The ‘1’ To Watch!

February 8, 2008
Posted in Auctions,Other News — Written by Nationla Numbers

Interested to learn what the world’s most expensive number plate is? Here’s the “1” to watch – quite literally!

Because the diminutive digit number 1 is set to become the World’s most expensive number plate – with an estimated value of 25 million Dirhams (more than 3.5 million pounds) – when it sells at auction in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on February 16.

A similarly small registration number, the number 5, currently holds the record as the World’s most expensive number plate, selling for a staggering 25.2 million Dirhams (again, more than 3.5 million pounds) .

Abdullah Mattar, Managing Director of Emirates Auction says, “Number 5 was sold for 25.2 million, which set the Guinness world record as the most expensive number plate. So we expect more for number plate 1″. According to Mr. Mattar, the company expects fierce bidding from at least five people for number plate 1.

Nationla Numbers sell some very special registrations, and with prices starting at just lb188, they afford a cheap and cheerful way to personalise your vehicle. If you’re stuck for ideas, we have plenty of suggestions. How about your name, initials, or browse through a list of A-Z Single Letters?

Or, if you yearn for something really special and very unique, and you have half as much money to spend as our Arab chums, you couldn’t go far wrong with a classic dateless plate or irish plate featuring the number 1. Here are some singular suggestions to stir up your imagination:

Private registration CTK 1 Private registration 1 GOA
Private registration 1 GE Private registration PAY 1T
Private registration XE 1 Private registration 1 NKH
XE 1 1 NKH
Private registration NKZ 1 Private registration HX 1
NKZ 1 HX 1


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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