Private number plates are seriously popular, with the DVLA selling more than six million plates and raising more than £2 billion in additional revenue since private number plates first went on sale in the late 1980s.
If you’re one of the millions of British motorists considering purchasing a private plate, there are several things you’ll want to know beforehand. We’ve listed these below, along with information to help you get the best possible deal on a private plate.
Even after you get a private plate, you can keep your existing registration number
After you buy a private plate, you’re free to keep your existing registration if you don’t want to give it up.
Most of the time, the Department of Transportation will void old registrations when new plates are issued. However, you can choose to pay a fee to retain the old registration, even if it’s no longer in use on your vehicle.
Contrary to popular belief, private plates aren’t always expensive
You may have seen newspaper headlines about the most expensive private number plates to go on sale — plates that, in some cases, can command prices in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.
While these number plates certainly attract attention, most private plates aren’t expensive. In fact, a large range of cheap private plates are available for as little as £45 per set.
All UK private plates need to comply with certain formats
Unlike in certain other countries, private plates sold in the UK need to comply with certain letter and number formats in order to be legal. This means that you can’t put any message on a plate — instead, your message will need to comply with certain letter and number limitations.
It takes about two to three weeks to transfer a private plate registration
After you purchase a private number plate, it takes about two to three weeks for the registration to transfer to your name and vehicle. Like with other processes, the faster you can provide your documents, the quicker and more efficient the transfer process will typically be.
While the number plate registration is being transferred, you’ll need to continue using your old number plates to avoid breaking the road rules.
Rude and offensive words are, not surprisingly, banned from use
To the surprise of no one, the government has banned some words and phrases from being put on private number plates.
According to a recent article in Wales Online, banned private number plates include disguised swear words such as AS19 OLE, DO19 POO and AS19 OLE, as well as political phrases and messages that may offend, such as EU19 OUT.
If you want to, you can assign your plate to a new vehicle in the future
Vehicles don’t last forever, meaning you may want to upgrade to a newer car in the future and take your private number plate with you. Luckily, this is a simple process — you can send in all the necessary documents to your vehicle registration office to transfer the registration.
You’re also free to sell your private plate if you no longer want it
Finally, if you get tired of your private number plates, or receive an offer that makes them worth selling, you’re free to pass them on to a new user.
The secondary market for private number plates is quite large, with many plate owners offering their number plates for sale at any one time. If you have a plate that’s in high demand, it could potentially be worth more than you may expect for the right customer.