Buying a Private Number Plate
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Drivers who want to make their car stand out with a personalised registration plate can expect to pay top dollar for the most popular letter and number combinations currently available in the UK. Although it’s possible to get affordable personal plates, others are definitely at the top end of the price scale, with the most expensive one ever being ‘F1’, which sold to Afzal Khan for a whopping £440,000 back in 2008. In fact, the Mercedes-Benz McLaren on which he placed the plate cost around £200,000 less.

In today’s world, drivers are limited by the letter and number combinations that are available to use on their car, so finding a special personalised registration plate at a price that suits you can be a rare occurrence. Drivers can purchase their personalised plates directly from the DVLA or go through trusted car dealers to find the perfect combination. It’s possible to purchase personalised registration plates privately, but this is not recommended since there’s no governing body to ensure that you actually get your plates after handing over the money.

Focusing on the personal message behind your number plate, sticking to your budget and avoiding getting bogged down with the expensive options will ensure that you find a private plate which will give you lots of pleasure for years to come and set your car apart from the rest on the road. We’ve put together some key do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when buying your private number plate.

#1. Do set a budget:

Private number plates don’t always come cheap, so having a firm budget in mind is absolutely essential to ensure that you don’t end up overspending. Of course, if you’re willing to spend a lot like Afzal Khan, there’s nothing wrong with buying a plate that costs you more than your car if it makes you happy. But, if you’re like most people who don’t want to fork out hundreds of thousands of pounds for a personalised registration, then you should set a firm limit on how much you’re going to spend before you start looking. Most dealers will allow you to search online with a price limit, so you’ll only find suitable plates that are within the budget you’ve set.

#2. Do be flexible with plate options:

Before you start looking for private number plates, it’s important to bear in mind that you may not be able to get the exact combination that you want. With private plates becoming more and more popular, you may have to settle for something a little different to what you originally had in mind. Being inflexible when it comes to your options could lead to disappointment and even make you feel like you have to go over your budget just to get the plate that you want. Instead, keep your options open and this will make the whole process a lot easier for you.

#3. Do understand the different styles:

You have probably seen a variety of different number plate styles available whilst searching for the perfect new registration for your car. Understanding the different styles can help you determine which is best for you in terms of combinations and of course staying within your budget. Since you’ll be limited based on the original registration year of your car, it’s no surprise that the dateless style is one of the most popular amongst drivers but is also the most expensive option to go for. UK private plates come in four different styles: dateless, current, prefix and suffix. The dateless style means that there is no date displayed on the number plate, whilst the current style is laid out just like a regular number plate, except for that you can choose the number and letter combinations displayed. For example, you can use your year of birth, lucky number, name or initials for a plate with personal appeal. These are usually the most affordable options. The leading provider of personalised number placed in the UK, British Car Registrations, offer a Valuations Guide for £19.99 which can help you determine the worth of a particular plate.

#4. Do choose a personally appealing plate:

Since your private number plate is going to appear on both the front and back of the car and will hopefully last you a long time, it’s best to ensure that you select one that appeals to you for more reasons than just the price. Although some buyers are only interested in getting the most expensive plates as a status symbol, don’t forget that the plate could easily lose its appeal after some years. It’s always a better option to go for a plate that’s more suited to your personality, or the car, rather than simply going for one which is ‘trending’ or popular at the time. A personalised number plate that’s meaningful to you will definitely be more worth your money.

#5. Don’t ignore extra fees:

Before committing to purchase a private number plate, be aware that the price advertised is usually going to be less than the total amount you’ll end up paying. In addition to the fact that many dealers add on VAT, you’ll also need to be prepared to pay a fee to the DVLA for registering the plate to your car. The DVLA will charge both an assignment fee and a fee to change the registration details on all personalised license plates. This will cover the cost of transferring ownership of the plate and assigning it to your vehicle. It’s a mandatory fee, so ensure that you factor in the additional cost in your budget. Most dealers will inform you of the additional fees, but if there is no fee displayed, it’s a good idea to get in touch and find out before you commit to buy in order to avoid any unwanted surprises.

#6. Don’t try and make your car look newer:

It may be tempting to try and make your car look newer than it is using a private number plate, but bear in mind that it is usually not allowed. Unless you purchase a dateless number plate to hide the age of your car, you will not be able to use a plate that displays a newer registration date than the original. For example, if your car’s registration number is ‘SL56CXN’, you will only be able to use ‘56’, ‘06’ or lower in your new private plate’s prefix. You will not be able to make your car look newer using ‘18’, for example. Make sure you are fully aware of the rules before you purchase.

#7. Don’t use the plate before sssigning It:

Lastly, be aware that it is illegal to display a private number plate that has not yet been assigned to your vehicle. As tempting as it may be to swap the plates as soon as you can and drive away with your updated car, you may get into serious trouble if pulled over by the police when displaying a registration number that is not yet registered to your vehicle. Always ensure that you have paid the DVLA fee, filled out the correct paperwork and had official confirmation of assignment before you change the registration plates on your car. Once you’ve purchased the private plate, you will receive a V750 certificate of entitlement to prove that you have the right to use the plate.

If you found this information helpful, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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