Private number plates are a great way to personalise your car. You can choose numbers and letters that are special to you.
However, there are rules governing the use of personalised plates, and you can be penalised for displaying your car’s registration incorrectly.
How to buy a personalised number plate
Personalised number plates can be purchased from the DVLA, brokers or in a private sale.
The DVLA has millions of registrations and offers a search tool so you can check to see what’s available.
DVLA also holds number plate auctions where you can bid in person, by phone or online. It’s a timed auction, allowing you to place a maximum bid that’s not disclosed to other buyers. The system will then automatically bid for you, up to your limit.
There are plenty of brokers around who buy and sell personalised plates. It can be worth visiting their sites if you’re looking for something in particular, though prices may be higher than through DVLA.
The classified ads in car magazines and newspapers also offer personalised plates for private sale. These plates can be rare and therefore tend to be expensive.
Types of personalised number plates
There are four different types of registration plates in the UK.
- Current plates used for new car registrations consist of two letters to indicate the region of registration, followed by two numbers that show the vehicle’s age, followed by three random letters.
- An older style of plate used between 1983 and 2001 is the prefix type, which has a first letter that indicates the vehicle’s age.
- Even older than this is the suffix type used between 1963 and 1983, which starts with the letter ‘A’ and ends with a letter that indicates its age.
- Prior to 1963, dateless plates were used, and these were a combination of up to four numbers and three letters. These plates are highly sought after as there’s nothing on them to indicate the vehicle’s age.
Legal requirements for personalised number plates
When you buy a personalised number plate, the DVLA sends you a certificate of entitlement (V750), which legally allows you to put that number plate on your car. You then take the V750 along with proof of identity to a registered number plate supplier, who will make the plate and fit it to your vehicle.
All UK number plates must follow the rules governing the display of registration plates. Your personalised number plate should be made as follows:
- Reflective material used.
- Front plate must display black characters on a white background.
- Rear plate must display black characters on a yellow background.
- No background pattern.
- No altered font or spacing.
- Must not make your car appear younger than it is.
You can be fined up to £1,000 if you display incorrect plates, and your car will fail its MOT.
Transferring your personalised plate
When you buy a new car, you can transfer your personalised number plate over to it. You need to register this with the DVLA, and they will charge a transfer fee.
It should be noted that a vehicle’s original age-related plate is deactivated by the DVLA when you register a new plate – and you may not be able to get it back, even if you reapply for it.
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