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Did you buy that car in 2013? Why Ireland changed its license plates.

Until Dec. 31, Irish license plate numbers included the last two digits of the year the car was purchased. 2013 has changed all that.

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Irish license plates used to start with the last two digits of the year the car was bought. This year, ever-vigilant legislators decided to add a 1 (denoting the first half of the year) or a 2 (second half) after those two digits, thus heading off any superstitions about buying a car in 2013.

Jason Walsh

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Is Ireland's new license-plate system really a result of superstition over the number 13? 

You wouldn't think triskaidekaphobia, or fear of the number 13, was much of an issue in the modern age, but you'd be wrong – at least if Irish news reports are to be believed.

As of this year, new vehicles in Ireland won't feature the "controversial" number on their license plates. Independent lawmaker Michael Healy-Rae tabled the idea in Ireland's parliament and, despite ridicule, it was passed in August and came into force on Jan. 1, 2013.

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Until three days ago, Irish license plates read year of registration, county or city, and number of car registered. So the first car registered in Dublin in 2012 would be 12-D-1 and the 4,000th car registered in Cork would be 12-C-4000. There are currently 2 million private cars on Irish roads.

But the advent of 2013 sent a collective shiver through the owners of car dealerships. Or, more accurately, through those who represent them.

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