With the current system of creating number plates, i.e. basing two of the digits on the six month period in which the car is put on sale, there has been some confusion surrounding what happens in March of 2010.
The way it operates at the moment March 2009 started the 09 digits being used in all new license plates and September 2009 started the 59 digits. This pattern follows on from March 2008 beginning 08, September 2008 beginning 58 and all the way back to March 2001 beginning 01 and September 2001 beginning 51.
What some people are wondering is what this will mean in 2010. The final digit can no longer be changed to match the year! Except that the initial digit can be changed too, and that is exactly what is going to happen. March ’10 will see the 10 code being used, and September 2010 will simply use 60.
This means that everything is fine until 2050. At this point the March update will move on to 50 and the September update will need to change from 99 to 00. What happens the following year is a problem though. September 2051 using 01 would step on the toes of the March 2001 registration date. March meanwhile, will begin encroaching on the September 2001 registration dates.
Whether this will genuinely be an issue or not remains to be seen. It will have been fifty years since the original 01 and 51 license plates were issued and it may turn out that they can be reused with no issues. If this does prove to be the case then the system could continue when 2101 rolls around and both the March updates and September updates will begin repeating themselves.
Another possibility is bringing in a new format for license plates either in 2051, 2101 or at any point from now onwards, though given that the system is fine until then, this would appear to be unnecessary and costly.
So far we have discounted the possibility of a new technology emerging to replace license plates, of course. What form this would take and why it would be seen fit to make the change are speculative at best. For the next forty-one years, we can remain confident that license plates will stay the same