Vehicle registration plates of the Isle of Man

Vehicle registration plates of the Isle of Man
Map showing the Isle of Man
A Manx number plate displaying the GBM country code
Manx car number plate

Vehicle registration began in the Isle of Man on 1 January 1906, following the Highways Act Amendment Act 1905. Initially, number plates started with the letters 'MN' followed by up to four digits. In 1935, the prefix 'MAN' came into use, followed by up to three digits, and the following year a further scheme was introduced allowing three letters to be used in addition to up to three digits (BMN-1 to YMN-999).

In 1959, the scheme changed to allow the digits to precede the letters, starting with 1-MN, and after 1964, starting with 1-MAN, and from 1965 until 1971 1-BMN through 999-YMN were issued.

In 1971, unissued numbers from the original MN-1 to MN-9999 range were issued. When these ran out in 1974, a trailing letter was added, giving MAN-1-A through to MAN-999-Y. In 1979 this was swapped to be a prefix (A-1-MAN up to Y-999-MAN), and in 1983 the range MAN-1000 to MAN-9999 was introduced.

This was reversed in 1985, giving 1000-MAN to 9999-MAN, which lasted until 1987. At that point, the current system was introduced, which has an initial letter, followed by MN, up to three numerals, and a trailing single letter. The initial plate in this system was therefore AMN-1-A, with the registration BMN-1-A being issued following AMN-999-Y. Thus the trailing letter does not indicate the vehicle age, unlike the similar format British plates, and many different suffix letters are issued each year.

The letters I, Q, S and Z are not used on Manx number plates.

The Isle of Man uses retro-reflective number plates with black letters; on a white background on the front of the vehicle, and on yellow on the rear. Vehicles manufactured prior to 1 February 1990 can display white-on-black plates as an alternative.

Since 23 April 2004 plates may incorporate the Manx flag, bearing the triskelion symbol surrounded by a circle of six stars, and the country identification code GBM (Great Britain – (Isle of) Man). These Manx number plates are similar in appearance to number plates of vehicles registered in the Republic of Ireland. This is because the typeface used on Manx number plates is similar to the font used on some Irish vehicle registration plates, and similarly transitions between numerals and letters are marked by hyphens. The Celtic font 'Isle of Man' (alternatively 'Ellan Vannin') identifier above the registration number is the same position as the Irish language county identifier displayed on Republic of Ireland number plates.

The region code 'MN' was reserved for the Isle of Man in the original Great Britain 1903 numbering scheme, and the code 'MAN' in the 1932 GB scheme. This means that no Isle of Man registration is duplicated by a GB registration. When the current 2001 scheme was adopted in Great Britain, the region code 'MN' (within the 'M' range for Manchester) was reserved for eventual use by the Isle of Man.

There are around 45,000 registered vehicles in the Isle of Man. Number plates are produced and supplied privately, not by the government. The name of the supplying car dealer is often displayed along the bottom of the plate. Registrations can be transferred from vehicle to vehicle.

The official car of the Lieutenant Governor carries the registration number MAN-1. Registrations including the numbers 999 or 112 (for example, AMN-999-A) are used for emergency vehicles, but not exclusively.

Trade plates have red letters on a white background, and display a number prefixed by MNA.

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