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The new '24' number plates banned by DVLA for being offensive

By Mathilda Bartholomew | February 23, 2024

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Every year DVLA officials meet to draw up a list of plates that it deems to be too risqué

The new '24' number plates banned by DVLA for being offensive

At one point or another, nearly every bored schoolchild has wielded a calculator not for mathematical purposes but to string together numbers and letters in an attempt to spell the most risqué word imaginable.

One might assume that with age and the ability to drive, maturity would prevail, and the inclination to create cheeky combinations of numbers and letters would dissipate. However, that seems not to be the case, evident in the annual actions of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), which consistently intervenes during the biannual release of new registration plates to ban potentially inappropriate combinations.

The latest list of prohibited number plates for 2024 includes 334 entries, such as 'FA24 NNY,' 'EU24 UKR,' and 'GB24 WAR.' The introduction of the '24' age identifier for vehicle registration plates on March 1 brings with it a fresh catalogue of combinations the DVLA deems too offensive, leading to their public disclosure.

The DVLA issues new plates twice a year, in March and September, coinciding with the introduction of the '74' age identifier in September. With each release, the agency aims to eliminate offensive combinations that could be misinterpreted by drivers with a peculiar sense of humor or those attempting to convey a social or economic message.

The primary reason for banning a plate is if it spells out or nearly spells out a swear word or anything deemed offensive. References to Brexit, the EU, war, or any content of a racist, religious, or political nature are also excluded by the DVLA's specialised team, meticulously reviewing all combinations to eradicate the most inappropriate examples.

The transition to the '24' age identifier has presented extra challenges for the DVLA, particularly due to the visual resemblance between the numeral '4' and the letter 'A.' Consequently, plates like '24 NUS,' 'AS24 HOL,' 'W24 NKR,' and 'SH24 GED' have been banned.

While some may find this amusing, the DVLA dedicates significant manpower each year to scrutinise and remove potentially offensive plates, convening twice annually in Swansea to address the matter. After a team of experts meticulously examines combinations for crass or offensive meanings, they go to great lengths to prevent these plates from hitting the road.

The criteria for removal include plates that "may cause offense, embarrassment, or are in poor taste," with the ability to rescind any that slip through the net at a later date. Despite the effort, the DVLA emphasises that the vast majority of registration numbers are made available, making the list relatively short most years but providing some light-hearted reading.

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