New 18 plates: When do they arrive, what do they mean and which are BANNED?

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Author: | Updated: 26 Feb 2018 11:48

With spring in the air, most people will be looking forward to some slightly balmier weather – fingers crossed – in March. Here at, however, we’re more excited at the prospect of the all-new 18 number plate.

18 winter plate2

Click here for the top five cars for the all-new 18 plate

It seems only yesterday we were preparing for the 67 plate, but now it’s time to welcome in its shiny replacement. Here’s what you need to know…

The registration system in the UK means that plate changes occur twice per year: once at the beginning of March, and once at the beginning of September. As such, any car that is yet to be registered will come with the new 18 plate registration from 1 March.

What does the plate actually mean?

What do number plates actually mean? (source: DVLA)

Coming into use in 2001, the current number plate system isn’t the easiest to understand, but it can be reduced to three main components:

  • Two letters – these refer to the regional office where the number was issued (full list here) and are referred to as the ‘local memory tag’;
  • Two numbers – these tell you when it was issued (see table below);
  • Three random letters – when combined with the regional office letters, these give the DVLA an almost infinite amount of registration numbers.

How old is your car?

66 = 2016 (second half)

Every year two sets of numbers are used to give newly registered cars an age identifier and some are easier to understand than other. For example, 14 is the first plate of 2014, 18 is the first of 2018. But for the September registration, an additional number is added.

Here’s a table that’ll help you identify exactly when some recently registered cars hit the road, as well as what some future number plates will look like…

Registration Year Digits
2013 13/63
2014 14/64
2015 15/65
2016 16/66
2017 17/67
2018 18/68
2019 19/69
2025 25/75
2035 35/85
2045 45/95
2050 (final year for two-digit plates) 50/00

With its current system, the DVLA is unlikely to ever run out of number plate combinations, and will allow it to keep registering cars for another three decades, with the final plates being numbered 00 in September 2050.

Are 18 plates affected by changes to diesel tax rates?

If you’re considering a new car soon, you’ll probably be aware that from 1 April that new diesel cars registered from 1 April 2018 will face a first-year tax increase. It only applies to first-year VED rates; the subsequent set annual rate of £140 will not be changed.

This means that if you’re after a diesel 18-plated car, you still have time to avoid the rise. If you’re planning to lease, the lease company will be responsible for the increase, so you won’t have to worry about the upcoming change yourself.

CO2 (g/km) Pre-April 2018 first-year VED rate Post-April 2018 first-year VED rate
(for diesels not meeting real-world Euro 6 standards)
1 - 50 £10 £25
51 - 75 £25 £100
76 - 90 £100 £120
91 - 100 £120 £140
101 - 110 £140 £160
111 - 130 £160 £200
131 - 150 £200 £500
151 - 170 £500 £800
171 - 190 £800 £1,200
191 - 225 £1,200 £1,700
226 - 255 £1,700 £2,000
Over 225 £2,000 TBA

A lease car’s road tax is rolled into your monthly payment and is included in the agreement, usually for the duration of your contract.

However, it is worth noting that if VED increases during your lease agreement, you might be liable to pay the amount of the increase – it’s always worth checking your contract.

Will some 18 plates be banned?

With every new number plate comes a unique problem – the DVLA needs to ensure that no really offensive number plates can make it onto the road. The decision is made by the DVLA's Propriety Group, which sits down every year to decide which plates should be vetoed.

Some are just common sense. For example, no car with the letters ‘BUM’ or ‘SEX’ ever make it on to a vehicle. Here’s a sample of the 18 plates that made it onto the X-rated black list…





A DVLA spokesperson said: “Many people enjoy displaying a personalised registration number and the vast majority of numbers are made available.  Where they are likely to cause general offence or embarrassment if displayed on a number plate, registration numbers are withheld”.

Fancy a personalised 18 plate?

Every year the DVLA holds certain number plates back to sell at auction.

Want to personalise your factory-fresh 2018 car? Well it’s actually possible to buy 18 plate registrations directly from the DVLA – an increasingly popular way of adding that extra personal touch.

It could cost you though – it’s little wonder than the DVLA has started holding back certain plates, with some registrations selling for more than £50,000 at auction.

If you fancy indulging a little on the perfect personal touch, here’s some brand-new personal (and rather expensive) plates that the 18 plate will offer up…

ABDUL personal palte

BRIGGS personal plate

Ready for a new car?

If you’re after a brand-new car for the brand-new plate, we’ve picked out five that we reckon suit it best. However, if you already know the exactly what you want, start your search for the perfect lease deal by clicking here.

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