What year is the license plate on your car?

One of the most important data of any vehicle is its age. And when it comes to knowing how old an unknown car is, because we want to buy it, for example, its license plate is the most useful key to accurately estimate its age .

Knowing the registration age of a vehicle is very useful to estimate its real age. Generally, this year of registration is the one that establishes the real value of that car when using the different tables on the market. And although there are some alternatives to know the age of a vehicle, the truth is that using the registration date is still the easiest.

This registration date is usually, with rare exceptions, the actual date on which the vehicle began to circulate. An extra security against ideas such as evaluating the age of the model, which can generate erroneous results. Something similar happens if we evaluate the equipment of the vehicle, because today we can fit a modern 2DIN radio, a Bluetooth adapter or any latest technology accessory to old cars without difficulties.

And in case you were thinking about it, looking at the date of manufacture of the tires (check this link for some purchase options) will not help much either. For this reason, it is convenient for you to know how to check a license plate to verify the age of the vehicle, as well as to be clear about how to know the history of a vehicle only by having that license plate.

History of tuition in Spain

Before getting into the matter, let’s go with a little history. Since the first vehicles in Spain arrived with the 20th century, the first registration system dates back to 1907. Since there was not much to register, a two-letter code for the province and a two-digit number were used. The problem with this system is that provinces like Badajoz and the Balearic Islands used the same letters. For this reason, in 1908 a standard was launched that corrected these inconveniences. In any case, the first regulation that regulates car registration with any seriousness dates back to 1926. This system used two letters for the province and six numbers to register each vehicle, which avoided the duplicities already mentioned.

You would have to wait until 1971 to move on to a system that will be more familiar to you. We are talking about the one that consists of two letters for the province, four numbers and two more letters at the end. A system that is still available in any license plate search engine, where it is easy to find out the registration date of a vehicle. The last license plate issued under this system was M 6814 ZX, for a Volkswagen Sharon, and that shows how exhausted the system was back then.

To the rescue came the last major change in license plates, launched in September 2000. We are talking about European license plates. These plates consist of the country code, ES in the case of Spain, along with four numbers and three letters. The provincial indications disappear and the numbering is correlative and shared for the whole country.

The most surprising thing about these plates is that there is no unified format for all of Europe, but each country designed the plates to their liking. In any case, and as far as we are concerned, if a Spanish vehicle has a European license plate, we already know that its registration year will be from September 2000 onwards.

The license plate seekers

If you take a walk on the net, you will find different license plate search engines, suitable both for locating the current European license plates and for the provincial license plates that we have previously commented on. These websites use the data that the DGT has been publishing, regarding which are the last number plates used each month. These pages look for the license plate that we indicate in their database and do not give as an answer the date on which it was issued.

Depending on the search engine, the accuracy of it can be annual or monthly, depending on the type of data that the developer has decided to use on the site. In any case, most of these pages use monthly information, to give more precise results.


Although calculating the year of registration is the easiest way to find out how old a vehicle is, this method has a couple of exceptions. One of them is the one that occurs when a second-hand vehicle is bought in a foreign country and brought to Spain. The license plate received here will not correspond to the age of the car, as expected.

Something similar happens when the owner of the vehicle asks to update a license plate of the provincial system to a plate of European format. In this case, the registration date of the vehicle registration is lost, since we have re-registered it on a much more recent date than its start-up date.

Turning to the DGT

Although the method of obtaining the age of a car by its license plate is useful, with a small investment we can obtain much more information about a specific car. To do this, simply go to the DGT and request the vehicle report for the license plate that interests us. Procedures that can even be done online, if you have a digital certificate. Regarding the cost, the reduced report is free, while the other reports have a rate of 8.50 euros per unit.

Among these, we have the complete one, ideal when it comes to how to know who a license plate belongs to. This report includes the identification of the owner, the municipality of registration, current mileage according to ITV, history of owners and whether or not there are charges that affect the aforementioned vehicle. The technical data of the vehicle, such as model, engine or power, is also collected.

To know the car model by license plate, just ask for the so-called technical report. In this report, both the make and model of the vehicle are indicated, as well as its chassis number, its first and subsequent registrations, as well as all the technical data of the car that appears on its ITV card. The results of these ITVs are even collected, which can be useful to know if the car is cared for or not.

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