Banned UK number plates: the ‘23’ UK registration marks withheld by the DVLA for being too rude

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Offensive letter and number combinations referencing everything from sex to the Ukraine war were held back from release

Number plates hinting at the Ukraine war, Covid-19 and sexual acts are among the latest to added to the banned list by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVSA).

With the arrival of the ‘23’ registration mark, the licensing body has revealed the full list of new plates which it won’t issue for fear of causing offence or because they hint at illegal activity.

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Among this year’s plates are some that refer to Brexit, such as EU23 BAD, a host that hint at violence, including GB23 KLL and GB23 GUN, and a smattering of playground level insults and smuttiness such as TO23 ERR and BA23 TRD.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has also led to a slew of new plates being withheld, such as RU23 UKR, FK23 RUS and NO23 UKR. And with the Covid pandemic still fresh in people’s minds the DVLA has chosen to withhold plates including CO23 ONA and CO23 RNA.

The DVLA has a fixed list of banned letter combinations which are never issued. These include *B** UMS, *G** ODS, AN** GER and BO** SOM. Any plate ending in SEX, ASS or BUM is also automatically banned.

However, ahead of the new registration changeover every March and September, a panel of staff compile a list of plates which could cause offence due to how the year marker appears among other characters. These can range from spelling out rude words, such as AA23 HLE, to referencing international terror groups - HE23 OLA - or hinting at threatening language, such as GO23 HLL.

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Although the DVLA adds new banned plates to its list every six months, the agency insists that a relatively few potentially offensive plates are held back every year.

(Graphic: Kim Mogg/NationalWorld)(Graphic: Kim Mogg/NationalWorld)
(Graphic: Kim Mogg/NationalWorld) | NationalWorld

A DVLA spokesperson said: "Many people enjoy displaying a personalised registration number and there are over 50 million registrations available on our website.

"The vast majority of registration numbers are made available but the agency holds back any combinations that may cause offence, embarrassment or are in poor taste."

The DVLA regularly auctions off more desirable number plates, making around £160 million year from personalised registrations that spell out common names or match vehicle models. 

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