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Full information about transferring and retaining number plates can be found on the gov.uk website:
https://www.gov.uk/personalised-vehicle-registration-numbers/overview

What is a number plate?

A number plate can be found on the front and rear of every road legal vehicle in the UK. It is a means of identifying the vehicle to the DVLA and the Police.

The first ever number plate was issued in 1903 when the number of vehicles on the roads in the UK began to increase. With so many new vehicles on the road - a need to identify them individually became paramount- hence the introduction of the number plate.

See also: the history of number plates

Why do we have number plates?

The UK and many other countries around the world use number plates for a number of different reasons - they mainly fall into these categories.

Vehicle identification

If there are two identical cars on the road- let alone millions- it's nigh impossible to tell them apart.

The chief job of a number plate is to set it apart from its neighbour and make it unique.

Crime prevention & detection

The Police work in conjunction with the DVLA and have access to driver and vehicle records to help prevent and detect crime.

A vehicle number plate identifies it uniquely - and with the registration number or "index" the police can trace ownership and some other details specific to that vehicle.

Revenue collection

TAX! It all comes back to tax- from road tax itself, to tax on fuel and repairs and insurance- the government are able to tax your vehicle only through the registration number and the tax disc.

Why do we need them?

Every vehicle needs a number plate as all of the above are very important to ensuring safety and order on the roads- imagine where we’d be without the number plate?