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Number plate geekery Mar 02

Apologies in advance for this particularly nerdygeeky post.

I’ve noticed around Edinburgh that many cars have number plates consisting of three letters and four numbers, e.g.: LCZ 2981. More than you would expect appear to have Zs in.

Anyone know why this should be? Was there a separate number plate system in Scotland at some point? Olav’s British Number Plates doesn’t seem to have the answer, unless it’s just a variation of “1931-62 re-registration” plates.

I’m also mildly curious about the preponderance of 71 (e.g. N71 AFL) number plates in Edinburgh. Not that I have an interest in number plates – I’m just inquisitive.

10 Responses

  1. 1

    LCZ is actually a N.Ireland number plate.
    The preponderance of the number 71 is just coincidence.

  2. 2

    I can confirm…..yes, these are Irish number plates.
    These are popular as they don’t have an age indicator (unlike prefix, siffix, or current style number plates), so they’re great for disguising the age of your car. And they are cheap to buy.

  3. 3

    They are Northern Irish number plates. You can tell the year of them by the first letter of the number – ie start ACZ ****, BCZ ****, CCZ****, although possibly more than 1 will be used in a year! you can get a close estimate though, if your into that sort of think

  4. 4

    Yep, they’re Irish plates. Often used over here as “dateless” plates, as they have no indication as to the age of the vehicle, and certainly stand out from the crowd.

  5. 5

    The ‘ageless’ plates are popular in Edinburgh because the city is booming economically, people have money, they buy expensive cars, then treat themselves to ageless or other personalised number plates.
    No mystery.

  6. 6

    Yes, the other commentors are correct, the LCZ 2981 is a registration issued in Northern Ireland. The ‘CZ’ relates to a Belfast issue. Irish plates are easy to spot on GB roads – they ALWAYS contain the letter ‘Z’ or ‘I’ such as GIL 1234, BIL 5544, JIL 6543 etc, or BAZ 34, CAZ 404, DAZ 808..

  7. 7


    We’re putting together a feature at Time Out magazine on different types of spotters and I was wondering if anyone (London-based) would be interested in talking about their consecutive number plate spotting hobby? We would be interested to know why you’re passionate about it, what got you into it and what it involves.

    If you’re interested or can think of anyone else, then please get in touch on or

    Many thanks

    Sonia Zhuravlyova
    Time Out London

  8. 8

    Hi Yes correct, the number plates are Irish, and they are a very cheap way of hiding your cars age, this is why there so many of them in Scotland (The Scots are very frugal). In England we buy proper dateless plates that actually mean something to the owner, consequently they cost a bit more!

  9. Ooohhh Bert that was a bit of a sweeping generalisation! I do think Irish number plates are becoming more popular here in the UK though, I seem to be spotting more and more.

  10. I tend to agree with Derek rather than Bert. Some of our best clients are based in Scotland and are certainly not afraid to part with their money for the right registration.