Irish Number Plates Explained

As a child who lived in county Antrim my family would have took regular trips to our caravan in county Donegal and the odd holiday to county Dublin. Naturally apart from the “are we nearly there yet?” headache we gave our parents we played the “guess the number plate” game from the used cars in Ireland, guessing the county the car was from. Being competitive in nature I always made a point of knowing which county each so I could always beat my siblings – early tell tale signs of a sales executive I suppose!

So, Irish number plates have had 3 different periods of change. Before 1987 they took the format of 3 numbers and 3 letters, 123 ABC for example.

Then in 1987 came the famous 92-D-12345 registrations. At first glance I never had a clue what it meant but when you actually understand how it works it is quite clever…and useful! Okay so the first 2 digits denoted the year of the vehicle, in this case the “92” denotes the vehicle was registered in 1992. The “D” denotes the county in which it was registered in, again in this case the “D” is for “Dublin” and finally the “12345” denotes a sequence in which a make is registered in that county so in this case the vehicle was the 12,345th vehicle registered in Dublin in 1992. Simple right? Wrong! It has changed again! Since January 2013 the Irish number plates have took another turn but thankfully nothing major! The new number plates will read something like this, 131-D-12345. From the first 3 digit number the first 2 digits denote the year of the vehicle, in this case “13” is “2013”. The last digit will always be a “1” or a “2”. “1” is for a vehicle registered between “January” and “June” and a “2” denotes a vehicle regsitered between “July” and “December”. So this vehicle example was registered between January and June 2013. The “D” is the same as previous denoting “Dublin” and the number sequence at the end again is the same as previous denoting its registered number amount.

In 1991 the number plates became part of the European standards guidelines, you will know these as they have a blue patch in the top left hand corner with 12 gold stars of the European flag and then “IRL” stating it is an Irish vehicle.

So that’s how it works, now, for you “guess the county” fans for the used cars in Ireland, here’s a headstart:

C – Cork

CE – Clare

CN – Cavan

CW – Carlow

D – Dublin

DL – Donegal

G – Galway

KE – Kildare

KK – Kilkenny

KY – Kerry

L – Limerick City

LD – Longford

LH – Louth

LK – County Limerick

LM – Leitrim

LS – Laois

MH – Meath

MN – Monaghan

MO – Mayo

OY – Offaly

RN – Roscommon

SO – Sligo

TN – Tipperary North

TS – Tipperary South

W – Waterford City

WD – County Waterford

WH – Westmeath

WK – Wicklow

WX – Wexford

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