Surviving Motor Taxation Records

List of Surviving Motor Taxation Records. In response to many enquiries, the Trust has produced this document listing its own holding of Motor Taxation records and also all other surviving records known to the Trust. This list is based on that originally compiled by the late L.H. Newall whose pioneer work is gratefully acknowledged.

What are the records?

The bulk of the surviving records of the former Local Authority Motor Taxation Offices fall into three categories:

  1. Registers covering the period up to the end of 1920. These usually quoted comprehensive details relating to the name and address of the registrant and particulars of the vehicle, together with date of registration.
  2. Allocation books introduced in 1921, essentially for recording the allocation of registration marks to dealers or owners. The amount of information recorded varied widely, some recorded as much detail as the pre-1921 registers, while at the other end of the scale most recorded merely the name of the dealer and the date of allocation and/or first licensing. The term “registers” is frequently used to describe what are really allocation books.)
  3. The record cards introduced in 1921, the main purpose of which was to record with the “home” authority the office at which the vehicle was currently registered. The cards were variants of the basic MoT form RF 16, later VE 16 and latterly VC2 (which recorded the transfer of records to the central computer). When a vehicle was written off some LTOs raised a “Last Owner” card with basic details of the vehicle and last owner. Other cards show no more than the make and taxation class of the vehicle.

Using the records

Enquiries about specific vehicles can usually be answered by post. Local authority archives have limited resources and some of the other voluntary organizations mentioned are charities or individuals so please always enclose a stamped addressed envelope with your enquiry. Persons wishing to undertake more extensive research at County Record Offices are advised to contact them in advance to ascertain times of opening and any conditions relating to the records in question. In particular, note that public access to the card indexes is often restricted either for security reasons or because they are housed in cabinets which cannot be brought to the public search rooms.

Are we wrong?

Further records occasionally come to light or records are transferred whilst addresses and especially telephone numbers do change from time to time. The Trust would appreciate being informed of any additional or altered information so that we can update this list.

What if I don’t know who issued a particular series?

Click on Trace a Registration Mark if you wish to see and search a summary list registration marks showing the issuing authorities.


The list is in alphabetical order of issuing authority. There are three separate pages, England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Abbreviations used in this list

CRO County Record Office
GIM General Identification Mark (the forerunner of Trade Plates)
HMC Heavy Motor Car (i.e. vehicles over two tons unladen)
MTO Motor Taxation Office (in Ireland)
RO Record Office
TP Trade Plate
VRO Vehicle Registration Office (renamed Local Office from 2001)