Northern Ireland vehicle number plates could be set for biggest makeover in 45 years
Number plates in Northern Ireland are to get their first makeover in decades, it's been claimed.
An Enniskillen-based company that makes registration plates said it had been told by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that all possible number plate combinations had been almost exhausted.
However, the DVLA said: "There are no immediate plans to change the current format in Northern Ireland."
Dessie Elton, director of Speedyreg, said he was told about the plans after meeting with DVLA officials in London last week.
He said the change would reverse the current format, and put numbers before letters.
The company said it expected the change to be brought in after three years as only plates beginning with UIG, VIG, WIG, XIG and YIG are still to be released in Co Fermanagh.
"We've had the current system for so long, it's going to be strange seeing plates on the road that look the wrong way round," said Mr Elton.
He said once all YIG plates were issued (there will be no ZIG), an example of the proposed new format will be 1001 AIL.
In 2002 there were 794,477 vehicles registered in Northern Ireland, compared to 50 in the whole of Ireland in 1903.
When number plates were introduced at the start of the 20th century, a number of drivers at the time took exception to being "numbered like convicts and labelled hackney carriages".
The previous big change to number plates here was in 1973, which brought in the current front white and rear yellow reflective plates.
Northern Ireland registrations - which currently all contain an I or Z - are popular in private sales across the UK, as the three letter combination often lends itself well to initials or nicknames. Currently, plates on sale include AFZ 1 for £184,245, BIL 1111 (£32,000) and BRZ 1007 (£205,000).
Selling local plates doesn't always work out well though.
A Northern Ireland builder took a financial hit in 2016 after scoring an own goal by buying a 'Jamie Vardy' registration plate in the hope of selling it on to the Leicester City and England striker for a tidy profit.
David McMurray (28) purchased the personalised registration plate VAR9Y for £4,000.
However, the Premier League star failed to bite, and it later went on eBay for about half the price he paid.