Every time a new registration number comes around in the UK it opens up a whole new set of possible combinations that have never been available before. After all, that’s exactly why we have had several different numbering systems over the years and why the registration number changes regularly; every single number has to be unique. But as well as making a load of new numbers available to accommodate the ever-increasing number of new cars being registered, a new registration number opens up new possibilities for combinations that might not be deemed “acceptable.”
Of course, this raises the question of who it is who actually decides what is and what isn’t acceptable, and that task falls to a committee at the DVLA. So, if you have an idea about a cheeky “71” registration number you’d like to own, let’s take a look at what the DVLA isn’t allowing this time around.
What 71 plates are banned?
There’s a pretty lengthy list of 71 plate registration numbers that have been suppressed by the DVLA, and this year we know the entire list thanks to a Freedom of Information request initiated by Wales Online.
A relatively recent category of potentially offensive plates includes those that might have political connotations. When it comes to the new plate, we now know that you’re not going to be able to have EU71 BAD, FA71 ST, AN71 USA, TA71 BAN or any registration number that starts NA71. Some you may agree with and some you might not, but it appears the thinking here is about avoiding potential conflict on the roads and in car parks.
Some are quite obviously not going to be allowed, and it does make you wonder who in the world would want something like PR71 CK, BA71 ARD, EA71 NOB, EA71 POO or FR71 GGN on the front and rear of their vehicle?
What are the criteria?
Although the DVLA maintains that only a small number of possible registrations are suppressed each time a new registration comes around, the criteria used to decide what is and isn’t going to be allowed is pretty broad, to say the least. The DVLA says it will suppress registration numbers that “may cause offence, embarrassment or are in poor taste.”
Well, for a start, anyone at all can claim to be offended by anything and it’s almost impossible to do or say anything today without someone taking offence. Or, more usually, taking offence at something on some else’s behalf.
Next, we get to the issue of potential embarrassment. You don’t put a number plate on your car and then suddenly feel embarrassed by it, do you? And as far as I can recall, you don’t get random strangers coming along and changing your registration number to something embarrassing without your knowledge. That’s a tough one to understand then.
Finally, we get to the issue of “poor taste.” Once again, this one can be subjective and what one person thinks is in poor taste may be perfectly okay to someone else. However, there are plenty of words and phrases most decent people can probably agree on, so this is an area for suppression where the DVLA is on pretty safe ground.
It’s hard to have too much argument with the banning of examples already covered here, but we then get a set where the reason for suppressing them looks pretty obscure to say the least. A couple I saw on this list close to each other that illustrate my point are AA71 AAN and AA71 YAN.
Now, I assume, and it is only my assumption that these are being suppressed because they could look like ARYAN. In the case of AA71 YAN, Aryan with a “y” in it is a reference to fascist ideology and relates to or denotes people of Caucasian race but not of Jewish descent. However, arian with an “i” can mean someone who was born under the birth sign of Aries, or, having a concern or belief in a specified thing.
I suppose this is an example of the DVLA being better safe than sorry and avoiding something that at a stretch could be offensive, and therefore banning a couple of numbers that will potentially be far less controversial than allowing them.
Please explain these?
The final few I want to draw your attention to are ones I just don’t get. I’ve been around a while and I consider myself to be pretty informed and extremely broad-minded, but for the life of me, there are some numbers on this latest banned list where I simply cannot see where the problem lies. Maybe I’m too old to understand, but maybe the censors at the DVLA are a lot more imaginative than me and see things in these numbers that I can’t.
What’s wrong with AH71 LRS, AH71 LER, AP71 DOF, RR71 PES, US71 AAG or XS71 UTS? I’ve looked at these and many others for quite a decent amount of time over the last couple of days since coming across the full list of banned 71 plates and I don’t see the problem. Could RR71 PES be bought by a fan of Pro Evolution Soccer to offend those who prefer FIFA 22? You see, I can be as obscure as anyone if I try!
How things change
There are a couple that made me smile because a couple of years ago they probably wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow, even among the DVLA’s censorship panel. Could you have imagined before the pandemic that numbers like CO71 RNA, CO71 ONA or CO71 VD would have ever caused offence? I’m still not that sure they would do now, but it does illustrate what a difficult job the DVLA has and how perceptions can quickly change of what is and what isn’t acceptable anymore. Rather them than me, I’d say.