4 Things To Consider when Buying Personalised Number Plates

Personalised license plates are a hot market right now and are a great way to add personality to a car. Looking into private plates can also be a great way to flip a profit if you manage to find a combination which might be desirable to others. It’s worth considering all the factors at play when you buy a private plate, so you can ensure you get a good deal secured.

Here are 4 things you should consider when purchasing personalised number plates.


You have to understand what paperwork will be required from you and what is permitted. As a rule, you aren’t allowed to use anything that’s considered too offensive on the personalised number plate.

However, the boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable shifts over time. To make sure that a particular word is appropriate, you’ll have to double check with the DVLA.

Consider how close to the edge the terms you want on the plate are and recognise that you may not be able to request it later or renew it. Another issue is registration and approval of the new personal plates. While private car registrations are certainly possible when you buy a coveted plate from an auction or online dealer, it doesn’t mean all sellers can or will fill out the paperwork necessary to allow you to put that new personalised plate on your car or ensure that no one else can use those same characters. One solution to this issue is working with DVLA recognised brokers like British Car Registrations that will guide you through the process.

Find out how much of the paperwork the broker will do for you. The more work you have to do, the less you should pay for their services. Will the broker secure a V750 or V778 certificate? You also want to work with reputable vendors so that they don’t sell you a plate for which the number has already been reused.

Another issue is the use of private registration to get around the dating of a car. While you can get a personalised plate that makes the year code on the car’s current plate irrelevant, it is illegal to use a private plate to try to make the car seem younger than it actually is. Dateless number plates are actually an ideal, since they lack a date number and can be put on any car.

Note that you are not allowed to put plates from other countries on your car.


What People Will Think

This can affect you and your car in several ways. If you use a made-up word or esoteric reference in the license plate, most people won’t get it. You don’t want people to have to decipher the plate to get the point or it will defeat the whole purpose.

The particular private number plate you choose may reflect your individuality or fandom, but it may not communicate it. If you try to design a private plate that looks like a word or name, think about whether or not others can figure it out in a single pass. Otherwise, it will be literally seen like an average license plate.

If you’re buying personalised number plates because they represent something you value, pick the plate you like the most. If you’re buying it as some sort of investment, follow the classic advice of buying low and selling high. Don’t overpay for premium private plates, because it is possible no one else will pay anything close to what you did.

Many people decide to go for private registration plates because they want their child to have it in a few years, such as when it spells out their first or last name. However, you shouldn’t buy these plates in the hope that they’ll go up in price in ten years the way the top of the market has gone up over the past ten years.

While personalised car registration plates can be a solid investment in some cases, unless you really understand the market and the demand for certain private plates, you shouldn’t buy them as a speculative tool.


Price should be one factor out of many you consider when shopping for a personalised plate. Is it really worth paying 100% for a specific license plate if you could find one that conveys a similar concept for a fraction of the price? Always be ready to have a plan a, b, c or d when buying a plate. Making some minor tweaks here and there could get you something pretty similar for a more reasonable price.

If you’re looking at expressing your identity, some private plates can be really expensive even if the name seems simple. As a matter of fact, the more common a name or word is, the less likely you’ll be able to get it as is.

It is very easy to run up the price in excited bidding for an exotic plate or one that is just popular. The solution for buyers is to have a predetermined budget and a hard stop on when you’ll stop bidding. Otherwise, you’ll get caught up in the excitement and pay a lot more than you planned.

Payment Methods

If you pay for a personalised plate via a credit card, you’ll probably have to pay a transaction fee for using the credit card in addition to the price of the purchased plate. If you pay via a debit card or bank transfer, those fees may not be charged, but you run the risk of paying for something you don’t receive or the transaction not going through because you bid up the price beyond the balance in your account. If you write a cheque and it bounces, you’ll be paying hefty fees on all sides. And the seller will likely ban you from their business.

Beware of anyone who demands cash and only cash when selling a plate. The plate may not have been legally acquired, and it almost certainly doesn’t have legal paperwork behind it. You may want to review the legal status of sellers on general auction sites, because the same concerns apply.

If you’re going to go for a personal car registration plate, make sure that you are realistic in your expectations and always make sure you have a second option. Don’t get carried away by falling in love with a particular private plate. Pick a plate that suits you and your intentions, while taking care of all of the legal paperwork. And don’t try to buy and flip specific plates, though you should buy one you truly want and will hold onto for a long time.

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