What’s new for 2021 car number plates?

  • By Michaela Crawford
  • 4 min read

Find out about some changes coming to UK car number plates in 2021. Including green plates, the EU flag no longer being permitted and more.

A Porsche Carrera number plate.

New Year, New Reg Plates

At this time of year, we tend to embrace a ‘new year, new me’ mindset and fresh start as we begin a new year – but let’s not forget what else the new year brings… New Car Registration Plates!

The 2021 number plates will see quite a few changes here in the UK including green plates, new British standards, the EU flag no longer being permitted on new UK car reg plates – and more!

Just before we go over the new changes, let’s remember what the UK number plate means:

a registration plate breakdown

So the first two letters represent where the car was first registered and lets the DVLA identify this location. However, all regional offices have been closed and new registrations are handled through online systems.

The next two numbers represent the period of time that a car was first registered and is the ‘age identifier’. These numbers will change every six months, in March and in September. Any car that is registered between March and August will have the last two digits of the year of registration. So cars registered after March this year will have 21! If a car is registered between September and February, it’s slightly different – but still simple! The number, instead of being the year, it is the year plus 50. So any cars registered after September 2021, all the way to February 2022, will have (21 + 50) 71.

The last three letters are very much random and don’t account for anything. Car dealers will usually be allocated batches of reg numbers, so the same dealer may have consecutive letters.

So what’s new for the 2021 Registration Plate?

There’s a few different laws and changes that are being brought on this year: let’s break these down.

Green Number Plates

Electric cars with zero emissions will have the option to have a green strip on their car reg plate, as part of the government’s actions to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. These are a great way to show off that you’re driving an EV, separating them from petrol and diesel vehicles. These green strips have been released since the 8th Dec 2020, so we will be seeing a lot more of them in the coming years!

These green plates will help EV drivers be easier to identify and enjoy the benefits of cheaper parking or using bus lanes, with the idea that more people will be convinced to become an EV owner. A poll by Nissan outlined that one third of UK drivers would be more likely to get an EV because of these green number plates. That would definitely help to reduce emissions through pretty much a ‘badge of honour’ for driving green. There is always a bit of satisfaction in having something that others can’t have, so here at LeaseLoco we do think these plates will see a rise in electric vehicles in 2021!

An electric car charging

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Vintage Number Plates

Another change the new reg will see is that, from the 1st January 2021, the classic vintage black and silver car registration plates will no longer be allowed on vehicles that have been registered on or after the 1st January 1980. This is to coincide with the other number plate changes that are being rolled out this year.

EU Flag Identifier

Registration plate with no flag

While the UK has always had the option of having the EU Flag Country Identifier on their reg plates, from the 1st January 2021 any cars manufactured in the UK will no longer be permitted to have this. This was announced by the DVLA and is a result of the UK leaving the European Union.

Do you have a EU flag on your car already? Don’t worry because this change only applies for any cars manufactured or number plates created from the 1st of January 2021.

New British Technical Standards

The new 2021 plate will also see new standards and specifications for the BS145e number plates, to replace the BS145d plates that are currently used. The main purpose of this is to have a more sturdy reg plate that can handle abrasion, damage, thermal change and will also show up clearer to cameras. This includes two tone number plates being forbidden and only solid black digits will be allowed to make it easier for cameras to identify vehicles. So people won’t be allowed any raised lettering for 3D and 4D effects to meet the new British Standards.

All these new plates will need to show the supplier's name and postcode in the bottom centre, as well as BS145e in the bottom right corner. These plates are available from the 1st January and will become completely mandatory by September 2021, which will be in line with the ‘71’ registration plates.

So the 2021 new car reg plates will see green strips on electric vehicles; new technical standards; the rules on vintage number plates changing and only being allowed on pre-1980 vehicles; and the end of the EU flag identifier on UK registered cars! Nothing too complicated, but it will be interesting to see if number plate rules and the new green strips speed up the reduction of emissions and encourage people to buy electric vehicles!

Nissan electric car

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