Frequently Asked Questions About Private Number Plates

Private number plates, or personalised number plates, are user-selected alphanumeric combination registration marks for vehicles. In recent years, private plates have shifted from the purview of the rich and famous to the middle class market. This is mainly due to the relatively affordable prices of generic private plates. In 2017 alone, DVLA announced that there were more than 370 thousand private regs of number plates.

Despite the seemingly large market of personalised number plates, many people are still unclear about the concept. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of five frequently asked questions about personalised plates.

1. Why should I buy private plate?

The laws of the land make it compulsory for vehicles to display number plates. Instead of just getting generic number plates, some people choose to express their individuality and personal beliefs using personalised plates. There are others who take advantage of this demand by collecting private plates for resale. Just as many use personalised plates to mask the true age of their vehicles.

2. How much does it cost to buy number plates?

It depends. Seemingly random and lengthy alphanumeric combinations (except to the original owners) can sometimes go below a hundred pounds. Short and meaningful words, pronouns and acronyms, however, can rise up to tens or hundreds of thousand pounds. Currently, the most expensive number plates in UK is 25O, which sold for £518,480 in 2014.

3. Where do I go to buy personalised plates?

You can buy directly from a neighbour, if he’s selling – there are no restrictions. For most people though, DVLA’s online auction is the go to place. With 45 million (and growing) plates in its inventory, no one else comes close. There is a growing trend over the last few years of buying and selling plates on broker websites. The appeal lies in the good middle-tier selection available. However, top tier plates are usually sold using offline brokers or auction houses.

4. Are there any hidden transaction fees?

No. There is a standard fee of £80 for assignment. If you choose to keep your number on retention (disassociated from vehicle and kept out of circulation), there is an annual £25 fee. Oh, and VAT is payable on every transaction. Please keep in mind that private brokers and broker websites will charge a fee for any service rendered.

5. Why can’t I buy the newest registered plates?

DVLA’s current number plate system contains an age modifier to allow easy identification of a vehicle’s year of make (or rather, registration). This is important for sales in the second hand market, and law enforcement purposes. Allowing older cars to use the latest plates will create a lot of confusion and opportunities for deception.

Anthony Charlton
347 Hale Rd, Hale Barns, Altrincham WA15 8SX, UK

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