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History

learn more about the history of Manx number plates, from the series of numbers that were issued, to some of the more famous plates of the island.

Series Issued | Special Issues | Styles | Famous Plates

Series

The Isle of Man Government first introduced Manx number plates on the 1st of January 1906, the first Manx number plate being "MN-1". This "MN" prefix series was followed by sequential numbers from "1" to "9999", as with the initial registrations issued in Britain starting 1903 ("A 1" to "YY 9999") and similar to the Jersey "J" prefix plates with trailing digits.

When "MN-9999" was reached in March 1935, "MAN" was used as a new prefix in the same fashion but with up to 3 trailing digits (4 trailing digits only being issued from 1983 onwards). "MAN-1" was therefore the first plate issued in this sequence, and is possibly the best know plate on the island due to its use on the Lieutenant Governor's car. "MAN" would have been part of the "AN" block of numbers used in the UK, however in exchange for "AMN", "MAN" was reserved from a list of numbers originally intended for West Ham (a district of the London borough of Newham), where "MAN" was subsequently made unavailable. For this reason, "AMN" registrations do not appear in Manx number plate series.

"MAN" prefix plates were exhausted a year later in April 1936 with "MAN-999" (to a registration pattern with a maximum of six alpha-numeric characters). After this, a letter preceeding MN, with up to three trailing numbers was used. As "AMN" had already been exchanged for the "MAN" prefix, "BMN" was used as the first in this series, starting with "BMN-1". The series continued with a trailing sequential number, and the first letter changed alphabetically as each in turn was exhausted. For example after "BMN-999", "CMN-1" was used, and after "CMN-999", "DMN-1" was issued. The characters "I", "Q", "S" and "Z" were not used as it was thought that they were confusingly similar to "1", "O", "5" and "2" respectively.

"YMN-999" marked the end of the lettered prefix, and the entire system was reversed, starting with "1-MN" in May 1959, "9999-MN" leading to "1-MAN" in May 1964, and "999-MAN" leading to "1-BMN" later that same year in October 1964. ("OMN" as a suffix caused some confusion as previously issued registrations from the 1959 "MN" suffix series for instance a number ending in zero, "1000MN" and "100OMN", but today these are usually differentiate with a hyphen, "1000-MN" and "100-OMN".)

After "999-YMN" in November 1971, unused numbers from the original 1906 "MN" prefix series were re-issued until May 1974. In that month, "MAN" plates followed by up to three digits and a letter suffix were brought in, starting with "MAN-1-A". These series of numbers were used in the UK to represent the date of issue in the suffix letter and had started in 1963 with "AAA 1 A". (With an initial 10 year separation between corresponding Isle of Man and UK registrations, these plates were initially easy to differentiate but during the late 1970's when the letters crossed over, this caused some confusion when using a Manx registered vehicle in the UK, as it could have displayed plates that appeared to show a date-identifier that was too new)

"MAN-999-Y" was the last number of the series in January 1979, at which point the system was reversed so that the letter became the prefix, starting with "A-1-MAN". Again on the isle of Man these prefixes did not represent a date. In the UK the system swapped to a letter prefix in August 1983 with the "A 1 AAA" series. Unlike the UK, the Manx numbering system allowed an "O" as a prefix letter (not a suffix as this would be too similar in appearance to the following July 1985 series ending in zero). "Q" prefixes were reserved for vehicles where no proof of age was unavailable at registration, or if the vehicle has been built using a significant proportion of used parts, for instance a "kit" car. (These "Q" prefix plates where also issued in the UK, however on the Isle of Man they were made transferable, whereas in the UK the number was only issued to a vehicle one time only.)

By May 1983 the prefix letter series had expired with "Y-999-MAN". As the prefix and suffix letter registrations had extended the number of total characters to 7, the "MAN" series (without a letter prefix or suffix) was re-introduced, but with 4 digits. 4 digit "MAN" prefix registrations were issued starting with "MAN-1000". That series ended with "MAN-9999" in July 1985 and the system reversed using sequential 4 digits with "MAN" as a prefix, starting with "1000-MAN".

"9999-MAN" was issued in August 1987, and in a return to the UK's 1963 "AAA 1 A" (trailing letter) series, The isle of Man government started issuing plates with a sequential letter prefix to MN, , a sequential trailing letter, and three sequential digits in between. For example, the series started with "BMN-1-A", then "BMN-2-A", following "BMN-999-A" was "BMN-1-B", following "BMN-999-Y" was "CMN-1-A". This series is still in use today, with many registrations having been returned to the Isle of Man Government for re-use as cherished registrations, bought from branches of Isle of Man Post.

In 2001, the UK introduced a two number dating system in the format "AA-51-AAA", where the first two letters are a location identifier, the number is a sequential age identifier (updated every six months), and the three trailing letters are random. It appears the UK continues to reserve both "MN" as a prefix, as well as "MAN" as a suffix,(also reserving "MN" as the last two letters). This is presumably to remove any confusion with Manx issued registration, as well as allowing for some future manx series of registrations once other registration series have been exhausted.

In 2009 the Isle of Man government introduced a "banding" system to cherished registrations, increasing the price of reissued plate in response to high prices of Manx plates traded on the open market. 1 and 2 digit registrations from the current series, as well as other desirable plates such as all the same digit or round numbers such as 30 or 600 were also reserved as cherished registrations, meaning that the first "LMN" plate with a trailing letter was likely "LMN-101-A", followed by "LMN-102-A", "LMN-199-A" was followed by "LMN-201-A", "LMN-998-A" was followed by "LMN-101-B".

In addition to the current 1987-onwards series and re-issued "Cherished" plates from previous series, the Isle of Man Government announced that they would be making vanity "MANX" prefix and suffix plates with up to three digits available in December 2012, with a pricing system to reflect the desirability of the registration, which saw a departure from any system seen in the UK.

Special Issues

Some time in the 1960s, "MAN-0" (Man Zero) was issued to Peel Engineering and was seen on a red Peel Trident for a time.

"Z-999-MAN" was issued to an Isle of Man Fire & Rescue Service publicity vehicle. 999 refers to the emergency telephone number on the Isle of Man, whereas the Z refers to Zurich Insurance Group, the sponsors of the vehicle.

"IOMTT" plates began being issued to course cars for the Isle of Man TT in 2010 as a prefix. That year vehicles were supplied by Corkills, and a number of Porsche and VW cars were seen with plates such as "IOMTT-3" and "IOMTT-15". (As the "10" series of plates were issued in the same year in the UK, many visitors were spotted with vanity plates ending in "MTT", enabling plates such as "MY 10 MTT", reading MY IOMTT).

Famous Plates

The Isle of Man is a fairly small place, and vehicle registrations come to be known by friends and family in the same way that well known resident's plates come to be affectionately memorised.

The late comedian Norman Wisdom, whose career spanned back to the early 1950's was an island resident, the owner of several plates on the island, including "NMN-16". Source:The Independent, June 21st 2001.

MAN-550-XThe Isle of Man has become a popular very popular destination amongst motorsport fans, a race circuit forming part of the 600 miles of public roads, and having no speed limit once outside the towns and villages. It is no surprise then than a man like Nigel Mansell would choose to live here. His plate, "N-1-MAN", also represents his name when shown without hyphens; the first two and first three letters of his first and family names (NIMAN).

MAN-550-XIn the same vein is one of the most well known motoring journalists, Jeremy Clarkson. Owning a lighthouse in the south of the Isle of Man, choosing to register his new Ford GT on the island seemed like an obvious decision. Although soon regretting that particular choice of car, it went on to appear on an edition of the BBC motoring show, TopGear. His choice of registration also remains questionable, "MAN-550-X", or, "Man's Socks"! Source:Top Gear,Series 7 Episode 2, BBC Two, November 27th 2005.

Trevor Baines who was famously convicted in 2009 on the Isle of Man for money laundering offences owned the ironic plate "MAN-10-U", read MAN I.O.U.

An anonymous bidder on the 2nd of February 2009, placed a winning bid of £100,000 on "MN-1", the first ever registration to be issued on the Isle of Man. To many this signalled that the Manx number plate market had reached parity with that of the UK, and spawned a renewed interest in Manx number plates. Many attribute this sale, as well as a number of others at around the same time, as the incentive being the government banding system that was also introduced in 2009.Source:bbc.co.uk February 2nd 2009.

Later that year on the 26th of November, 2009, "MN-2" was bought for £65,000, with "MN-1" seen in the car park outside the Mount Murray Hotel. "MN-1" left immediately after the auction for the "MN-2" lot was completed, yet it is unclear whether the owner of "MN-1" bought "MN-2".

On the 9th of October, 2012, "1-MAN" was sold at the Mount Murray Golf Club for £65,000, or £73,125 with premium. (MN-7 and 7-MN sold as a pair for £50,000). This, as with the "MN-1" sale in 2009, prompted the Isle of Man Government to introduce a new strategy with respect to cherished vehicle registrations, with the "MANX" series of registrations being offered for sale in December 2012Source:iomtoday.co.uk October 11th 2012.

One plate you might see if attending one of the Island's ceremonial or political events such as Tynwald day, is "MAN-1". This plate is used on the Lieutenant Governor's car, and although "MAN-2" is also used by the Lieutenant Governor, it is seen less often.