Why do British licence plates use both O and 0?

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miklcct

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British licence plates use both O and 0, with the typeface identical that distinguishing O and 0 (or I and 1) can only be done through context. In contrast, other countries generally avoid the use of letters I and O in licence plates because they can confuse with 1 and 0.

As a result, people frequently enter their licence plates wrong into computer systems (for example, when renewing road tax). Why does the authority use such letters when they can be easily avoided?
 
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alxndr

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It should be obvious from the context. The vast majority of plates follow the AA00AAA format.
 

miklcct

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It should be obvious from the context. The vast majority of plates follow the AA00AAA format.
And there are also A000 AAA and 000A AAA formats which are found on pre-2001 vehicles, but in these cases leading 0 is not allowed (which isn't that obvious).
 

Speed43125

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And there are also A000 AAA and 000A AAA formats which are found on pre-2001 vehicles, but in these cases leading 0 is not allowed (which isn't that obvious).
A123 AAA and AAA 123A formats yes. The year identifier skipped many of the confusing letters such as I,O,U,Z, Q* etc, for the very reason the OP mentions.


*Q is obviously used for cars of indeterminant age or identity, generally stolen recovered where the VIN can no longer be identified, or cars that are fundamentally modified.
 

Gloster

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I think you mean AAA000A for the 1963-1982 system.

I believe the allocation system is designed to avoid 0/O or 1/I duplications, i.e ones were there are two registrations which only differ by these specific digits. However, there is nothing you can do about stupidity: idiots are sufficiently ingenious that they will always find a way of getting it wrong, however carefully the system is designed.
 

swt_passenger

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And there are also A000 AAA and 000A AAA formats which are found on pre-2001 vehicles, but in these cases leading 0 is not allowed (which isn't that obvious).
AAA 123 A then A 123 AAA more correctly, isn’t the ”year letter“ spaced if properly shown?
 

Ken H

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My car has a zero and an 'O' next to each other xx 10 Oxx How many of those are there?
 

XAM2175

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In contrast, other countries generally avoid the use of letters I and O in licence plates because they can confuse with 1 and 0.
Or they are permitted, but made to appear significantly different.

AAA 123 A then A 123 AAA more correctly, isn’t the ”year letter“ spaced if properly shown?
No, there is only ever one separating space.
 

87 027

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They do? And the computer system accepts that?

I can't think of a situation where the same character can be either a letter or a number. I've just tried checking a genuine registration substituting the zero of the year for the letter O and the DVLA check car MOT/tax status service rejects the registration as invalid
 

etr221

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I can't think of a situation where the same character can be either a letter or a number. I've just tried checking a genuine registration substituting the zero of the year for the letter O and the DVLA check car MOT/tax status service rejects the registration as invalid
The possibility exists of having registrations which appear as AAO9OOA - is that AA09 OOA or AAO 900A ? Whether the system is sufficiently sophisticated to avoid issuing specific duplicates I've no idea, but I've seen examples of both forms - and to distinguish, you need to pay attention to the space, otherwise you can't tell...

Whether there is any possibilty of the letter I (used only for Irish - both parts - registrations) being used on a registration where it might alternatively be a numeric 1, I don't know.

The other country which requires careful attention is Germany - the dash between the two groups of letters that start their registrations is significant, as both groups have variable numbers of letters.
 

30907

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FYI Germany registrations routinely include I or O (offhand, Ilmenau and Oberhausen). AFAIK they also include the digits 0,1.
France uses all the digits - does it avoid O/I?
 

87 027

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The possibility exists of having registrations which appear as AAO9OOA - is that AA09 OOA or AAO 900A ? Whether the system is sufficiently sophisticated to avoid issuing specific duplicates I've no idea, but I've seen examples of both forms - and to distinguish, you need to pay attention to the space, otherwise you can't tell...

Good point. But I should have thought that the number of extant pre-August 1983 scheme registrations where the second character is the letter O and either or both of the 5th and 6th characters is a zero is vanishingly small, and it wouldn't surprise me if DVLA ran an analysis when the post-2001 numbering scheme was devised to quantify the possibility for confusion. Especially with ANPR technology starting to take off in the 1990s
 
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Trackman

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*Q is obviously used for cars of indeterminant age or identity, generally stolen recovered where the VIN can no longer be identified, or cars that are fundamentally modified.
A very long time ago my mate bought a car with a Q reg (at the end) it belonged to the Army before.
 

Gloster

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A very long time ago my mate bought a car with a Q reg (at the end) it belonged to the Army before.
Q was used for vehicles, often (but not only) imports, that it was not possible to establish a date of construction for.
The possibility exists of having registrations which appear as AAO9OOA - is that AA09 OOA or AAO 900A ? Whether the system is sufficiently sophisticated to avoid issuing specific duplicates I've no idea, but I've seen examples of both forms - and to distinguish, you need to pay attention to the space, otherwise you can't tell...

Whether there is any possibilty of the letter I (used only for Irish - both parts - registrations) being used on a registration where it might alternatively be a numeric 1, I don't know.

The other country which requires careful attention is Germany - the dash between the two groups of letters that start their registrations is significant, as both groups have variable numbers of letters.
As said above, I am fairly sure that the system is programmed to prevent it issuing numbers which could be confused in this fashion. It would be very surprising if the British and Irish licensing authorities did not cooperate to prevent the two countries issuing registrations that could be confused.
 

Davester50

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They do? And the computer system accepts that?
Road tax, No.
Plenty car parks with ANPR that users often put in the wrong letter or number in to the payment meter and ended up with requests for payment.
However that's supposed to be stopped now.
Motorists who enter the wrong number-plate details when paying for private parking tickets will in many cases no longer be 'fined' the full amount, after the UK's largest parking trade body updated its code of practice. But you'll still need to appeal to get the charge cancelled and may still have to pay a reduced charge for "major" mistakes.
 

Gloster

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In Sweden you have a personalised plate using just about any combination of numbers and letters not considered offensive. The number of digits is limited to seven.
 

ta-toget

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In Sweden you have a personalised plate using just about any combination of numbers and letters not considered offensive. The number of digits is limited to seven.
Am I correct in thinking that here it has to fit one of the many formats that have been used at one time or another? I've never seen plates like BACALAO here (seen in Norway).
 

edwin_m

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The possibility exists of having registrations which appear as AAO9OOA - is that AA09 OOA or AAO 900A ? Whether the system is sufficiently sophisticated to avoid issuing specific duplicates I've no idea, but I've seen examples of both forms - and to distinguish, you need to pay attention to the space, otherwise you can't tell...

Whether there is any possibilty of the letter I (used only for Irish - both parts - registrations) being used on a registration where it might alternatively be a numeric 1, I don't know.

The other country which requires careful attention is Germany - the dash between the two groups of letters that start their registrations is significant, as both groups have variable numbers of letters.
I think the old ABC123A and A123ABC systems didn't generally use the letters O or I in any position, although Northern Ireland had some with I in them.
 

Gloster

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Am I correct in thinking that here it has to fit one of the many formats that have been used at one time or another? I've never seen plates like BACALAO here (seen in Norway).
Yes, I think that no registrations are permitted that do not fit the standard legal format. Technically you are not even supposed to alter the spacing of the digits, but many do: only today I saw one where the two figure Ones in the (year indicator) 11 had been closed up to make a word (?T11LER, I think). On the Isle of Wight there are plenty of vehicles from the ??10 W?? series. Jim and Ann Smith might have JS10 WAS, which would be altered to JS 10W AS.

I think the old ABC123A and A123ABC systems didn't generally use the letters O or I in any position, although Northern Ireland had some with I in them.
The letter O was used, but 0 was never used at the beginning of a number: it was A12ABC, never A012ABC. The only problem might have come with 120BC or 12OBC, but that would have been long ago.
 
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87 027

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I think the old ABC123A and A123ABC systems didn't generally use the letters O or I in any position, although Northern Ireland had some with I in them.
O wasn't used as a prefix or suffix denoting the year, but was permitted as part of the group of 3 letters, either at the beginning (I had 2 such cars myself) or as part of the 2 letters denoting place of registration (e.g. AO = Carlisle, JO = Oxford, OM = Birmingham, OO = Chelmsford)
 
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