Registration System

How old is your car?


The ability to age a car by its registration plate has many advantages, especially to the motor trade and car enthusiasts like ourselves, though also very often to the police as well! The world’s simplest system is probably in the UK where the number prefix (or previously the suffix) changes every year on the August 1st. In Kenya it is also possible to do this as we have a sequential numbering system, though as it is a running sequence it is difficult to gauge a vehicles age unless one has a reference. Over the years there has been much debate in the club about the date that the various registrations were issued and the committee felt that between the club’s members there must be sufficient information available to build up a number database. The exercise has begun and data so far provided is given below. The idea now is for as many members as possible to provide any information they can which can be added to the database. From this a definitive reference will develop.

Though the Kenyan numbers are a sequence, there has been a few changes that have rather confused the issue. As there is no readily available reference there is some debate about the exact history, though from the recollections of various members the story can be pieced together. The initial sequence used was T and this applied to all pre-war vehicles. Post-war series used the letters H and the W immediately prior to the K series which was introduced in 1950. It would be interesting to establish exact dates for T, H and W series and any information would be appreciated.

The K series was a major change in the numbering system necessitated by the greatly increased number of vehicles being registered. It was introduced on a regional basis, KA being allocated to Mombasa, KB to Nairobi, KC to Nakuru, KD to Kisumu and KE to Eldoret.

As the greatest number of registrations were in Nairobi KB finished first and KE followed by KG and KH were then allocated to Nairobi. KI was not issued and KJ was allocated to Mombasa in 1965 when the KA series finished. Similarly the KC series finished in Nakuru at the same time and KL was allocated to follow. KM, KN, KP, KQ and KR then followed in Nairobi, KO not being issued. In 1977 co-incidentally again both at the same time the KJ Mombasa and KL Nakuru sequences finished and these towns were allocated KT and KS respectively. Also the KD series in Kisumu finished and KU was issued as a replacement. In Nairobi KR was followed by KV.

The KV series finished at the end of 1979 and for some reason, possibly related to security and fraud, the government decided to centralise registrations in Nairobi and the previous regional system was scrapped. At the time Nakuru has reached about KSH, Mombasa about KTF and Kisumu about KUE (does anyone have more precise information?). In order to use the KS, KT and KU numbers that remained the next Nairobi number was KSJ, this change being the source of confusion to many! When the KS series finished it was followed by KTG in 1981 which in turn was followed by KW, KX, KY and KZ to complete with KZZ at the end of 1989. The present KAA xxx A series followed, the advantage being that each third letter of the number provided for 23,976 registrations instead of the previous 999.

It is believed that though since 1979 there has been one number sequence throughout the country, regional centres have been given number blocks so it may be that one letter may predominate in a particular town. Also certain parastatals and local councils have been given number blocks (hence for a long time all NCC vehicles were KUF) and because of this there may be occasions when the sequence is misleading. Any further information would be appreciated!

As already mentioned, the details given are based on recollections and not any substantive reference. Any corrections or amplifications would be most welcome as the club feels that this information is important to all Kenyan car enthusiasts. The club would also very much like to build up the number of reference list and ultimately we intend to issue a list of registrations by years using December and June as reference points. Members will then be able to relate a number plate to within two-three months of its registration date. This is an exercise that depends upon everyone’s co-operation so as soon as you’ve finished this article ferret in your records to see when your vehicle was registered. Old timers will also have memories of when their (or their Dad’s!) shinning new Hillman Minx was delivered, all this information being essential if the database is to be complete. Please either phone (540607 office, 520976 home), fax (557617) or personally deliver this information at the next meeting to Alec Davis and hopefully soon a complete list can be compiled. Your assistance is welcomed !

A Guide to the Kenya Vehicle Registration System (Part 2)

In last months newsletter was an editorial complaining about the lack of enthusiasm by members and asking for more support with club activities, the recently carried out registration exercise being a case in point. I asked for assistance from members in providing numbers and just four people have responded - not quite what I had hoped! However to one member, Nagin Chauhan from Nanyuki I must give my deepest thanks - he has provided a comprehensive list of every registration letter in Kenya from 1950 to 1976. Where he got if from I have no idea, but it certainly is an enormously valuable record. Because of its comprehensiveness it’s a little difficult to assimilate so to simplify matters I have decided to present it in the form of a table by year giving registrations in January, May and September. These numbers can be used as references and the dating of other numbers can be obtained by extrapolating from the information provided. If anyone is interested, though, I would be very pleased to make available Nagin’s very comprehensive record - just ask.

In my original article I explained how the numbering sequence had progressed over the years, the original system having different letters for different registration centres. For those who may have lost the last article the principal letters are of as follows:-

 Nairobi - KB (1950), KF (1955), KG (1959), KH (1961), KK (1965), KM (1968), KN (1970), KP (1972), KQ (1974), KR (1976) AND KV (1978)

Mombasa - KA (1950), KJ (1966), KT (1977)

Nakuru - KC (1950), KL (1967), KS (1977)

Kisumu - KD (1950), KU (1977)

Nanyuki - KE

 There were a few anomalies which I was aware of, though couldn’t resolve until receipt of Nagin’s letter (again, many thanks Nagin). These were:

¨ Some KC and KL numbers were issued to Eldoret and Kitale.
¨ KBA was issued to Nyeri, the first Nairobi number being KBB. Nyeri then followed with KFE and KGT.
¨ Kericho was issued with KDB then KDK which were used up to 1969.
¨ Kisii was issued with KDE then shared KDK with Kericho.
¨ Kakamega used KDL between 1962 and 1967.

It is important to note that the numbering system was centralised in 1980 and after that date all Kenya numbers are in sequence. Between 1980 and 1984 the unused numbers from Nakuru (KS), Mombasa (KT) and Kisumu (KU) were issued, KW (1984) being the first number that was never used regionally.

Detailed below is the table of numbers for all years up to the present for Nairobi only. I have the dates of the regional numbers which I feel are of limited interest and so not worth giving details here. However, should anyone be interested I would be pleased to make them available. In the table you will note that I have also indicated the number of letters issued during the year which gives an idea of the number of vehicles registered. The trend is obviously up, though it is interesting to note how events can be related to registrations e.g. the pre-independence recession in 1962/63, the coffee boom in 1979, import licence restriction in 1982, the aid boom in 1991/92 etc.!

I now consider this matter closed and am no longer soliciting numbers. However, records for the years after 1976 have been in many cases estimated by extrapolating from reference dates and if anyone should disagree please let me know.

I hope that members will find the information useful - at least there is now a reference to resolve those bar room debates!


1950 KBB KBC KBD 4
1951 KBE KBG KBH 5
1952 KBK KBM KBN 4
1953 KBP KBQ KBR 4
1954 KBT KBV KBW 5
1955 KBY KBZ KFB 7
1956 KFF KFH KFK 7
1957 KFN KFQ KFS 7
1958 KFV KFX KFZ 7
1959 KGC KGF KGG 8
1960 KGL KGP KGS 9
1961 KGV KGY KHA 7
1962 KHC KHE KHH 7
1963 KHK KHM KHP 6
1964 KHR KHU KHW 8
1965 KHZ KKB KKD 7
1966 KKF KKJ KKL 8
1967 KKP KKS KKW 10
1968 KKZ KMC KMF 8
1969 KMH KML KMQ 10
1970 KMT KMY KNB 12
1971 KNF KNL KNP 13
1972 KNU KNX KPB 12
1973 KPG KPJ KPN 9
1974 KPR KPV KQA 15
1975 KQG KQL KQP 10
1976 KQS KQW KRA 12
1977 KRE KRK KRP 12
1978 KRS KRW KVB 13
1979 KVG KVN KVP 18
1980 KSF KSJ KSQ 15
1981 KSV KTJ KTM 14
1982 KTR KTY KUH 11
1983 KUK KUP KUT 13
1984 KUY KWE KWK 17
1985 KWR KWX KXC 15
1986 KXG KXN KXT 21
1987 KYD KYL KYP 16
1988 KYV KZC KZK 19
1989 KZQ KZV KAA-A 17
1990 KAA-H KAA-N KAA-W 21
1991 KAB-E KAB-M KAB-Y 22
1992 KAC-C KAC-J KAC-P 16
1993 KAC-U KAC-Z KAD-E 16
1994 KAD-L KAD-R KAD-Y 20
1995 KAE-F KAE-R KAG-A 25
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