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Existing Registration Introduction

Registering your machine – The History   

Originally the registering of machines was handled by the individual County and County Borough Councils. At the start a single or two letters up to 999 although by the 1920’s this was extend to four numbers.  

By the early 1930’s a large proportion of the metropolitan authorities were running out of available registrations. Therefore the legislation was altered to allow three letters and three number registrations to be issued. The final two letters were retained but the first letter sequence started. To illustrate AA was Hampshire County Council when this series was exhausted then AAA was issued and then BAA, CAA and so on.

Even this was not enough and by the late fifties the reversed series came in where the numbers preceded the letters starting with either a single letter or two letters. Sometimes the motorcycle registrations were allocated the 1-999 series due to the size of the available number plate.  

However even this was not enough and in some areas a suffix year letter was added. 1963 started as A and this changed on the 1st January 1964 to B and so on. Few authorities allocated the A suffix although the majority of authorities allocated the suffix letters from then on. The letter change moved from the 1st January to the 1st August later.  

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre was set up where all the driving and vehicle licensing was centralised and computerised. It was proposed that the registration transfer would be complete by 1975 but this was extended to 1978 with a further exemption up to 1983 where no further registrations were to be added to the database.  

There was however exemptions granted to ‘rare or historically significant’ vehicles to be added. Any other vehicles were allocated an ‘age related registration’ originally an ‘A’ suffix but this was changed to unallocated Scottish series SU, SV, SK and DS. However there were many vehicles which missed the cut off date for registering.  

With the increase in restoring and using historic vehicles the pressure on the DVLA to retain the original registration where there was documentary proof increased especially from the enthusiasts' clubs. The DVLA then agreed that those vehicles which were not on the database could retain the original registration if the enthusiasts' clubs policed and certified the eligibility of the claim.  

If you own a BSA motorcycle we can help you regain your original registration, if you do not have it on a V5C. To be able to do this you need some evidence to support your claim for the original registration number. You must, of course, know the original registration number and have the old log book, a tax disc, MOT certificate or a copy of an entry in the original registration records of the district in which it was first registered.

 Remember it is the last two letters of the registration which denote the issuing authority. Check to see whether the original registration records still exist by going to the List of Existing Registers. There are also notes to this list and a list of addresses for the issuing locations.

 If you have all this, download the registration retention document. If you do not have the documentary evidence then go to the machine dating and age related registration mark notes.

Updated 12/ 08     

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