How to sell a private number plate

For many car owners here in the UK, acquiring a personalised number plate adds a bespoke touch to a vehicle, for others it’s a statement of status and success, while some use them to mark an occasion. The royal family is no exception with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pulling away from their wedding in a car bearing the plate “JU5T WED”. In the last 25 years, the UK has seen a boom in the trade of personalised plates with the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) making a small fortune for the Treasury in sales, not to mention the rare and famous plates that sell at auction for staggering sums.

Whether it’s to make a return on an investment or because the plate no longer has the same personal value, there comes a time when car owners decide to sell their private plate. As with selling any asset, it’s important to be patient and carry out thorough research before any transaction takes place. It’s essential to get an accurate estimation of just how much your personalised registration is worth before you enter into any arrangement either directly with a buyer or with a broker who will manage the sale for you.

When it comes to parting with your personal registration, you’ll find several options open to you, from managing the transaction yourself to using an online expert, but how to sell a private plate to your best advantage isn’t always clear.

If you’re looking to sell a private number plate, you’ll find a host of information in the sections below that will help guide your way. From the best places to sell them to how number plates can be sold if they’re on retention, you’ll find all the answers you seek.

Can I sell my private number plate back to the DVLA?

The DVLA keeps the stock of plates termed “Cherished Registrations” that are brand new and have never been issued to date and sells them, but it doesn’t buy private number plates. If you’ve got a personal number plate you want to sell, the DVLA isn’t the solution. However, the good news is there are plenty of other buyers waiting out there and you’ve got a selection of options about how you make contact.

How to sell a private number plate

The law states that you’re entitled to sell or gift a private number plate to another. However, personalised number plates must be assigned to a vehicle before it can be put into use.

You have two options to select from when it comes to how you sell your personalised plate. You can either sell through a private dealer or broker who specialises in the selling of personalised number plates or manage the transaction yourself and sell your registration number privately.

If you sell your plate with the assistance of a dealer they will typically locate a buyer for your private number plate, arrange and manage the payment and transfer the registration number to the buyer’s vehicle or, if they’re buying on retention, arrange for the certificate to be transferred over to them.

If you conduct the sale yourself and sell privately, you’ll need to assign your personal registration plate to their car or transfer the certificate to them if the registration number has been put on retention.

Assigning your private number plate to someone else can be done by post or online. To complete this task, you’ll need either your V778 retention certificate or V750 certificate of ownership, along with details found in the logbook or V5C registration document of vehicle it’ll be attached to.

The DVLA strongly suggests, for the sake of security, that you never scan or share either your V75O certificate of ownership or V778 online as it may be possible for someone other than your intended buyer to make use of it illegally and attach the private number to another car.

Where can I sell my private number plate?

Depending on the method you use, there are several places where you can sell your private number plate. If you opt for assistance and choose to sell your private number plate through a specialist dealer in plates or online broker, they’ll sell your registration for you by advertising it on their site. Typically, dealers won’t charge you for this service, but they’ll take a commission on the sale, which they’ll deduct from the amount they agree you’ll receive. Sometimes it’s possible to sell your plate on different parts of their site that allows your registration to be better promoted for an additional fee.

If you choose to sell your private plate on your own, then there are multiple options available to you. There are auction-style sites like eBay where you can sell your plate to the highest bidder and set a reserve price to ensure you don’t part with it for less than you’ll be satisfied with or even sell at a fixed price. It’s worth considering, if you’re selling the plate yourself, you should make sure you know how much profit you will receive from the sale made of your plate. Auction organisations always have selling fees, which can often be equivalent to the commissions charged by dealers and online brokers.

You can also sell your private plate in a classified advertisement either in a physical car magazine, auto supplement of newspapers or via online editions of vehicle publications.

Where is the best place to sell private number plate?

It’s assumed that unless you’re in a hurry, you’re selling your personalised number plate with the intention of getting the best price possible for it. Before determining where the best place to sell your private number plate is, do some research and work out roughly what your reg is worth and any costs you’ll have to pay to make a sale.

To find out the worth of your plate, collect a wide selection of quotes from as many dealers and brokers in number plates as you can find to create a fair estimate. Bear in mind that some dealers will say your plate may sell for a higher sum than it will in order to encourage you to sell through them.

While dealers in personalised plates rarely charge you anything up front, they will take a commission on what your plate sells for. As they arrange and agree the sale, you won’t have a say in what this is. Selling in an online auction is an option for selling but, as mentioned previously, weigh up the cost of fees as sometimes they can be comparable to commissions from brokers. Unless it’s explicitly stated otherwise, many papers, journals and magazines both online and in print will have a charge if you place an advertisement with them, which can be costly if your plate takes time to sell as you usually pay for the classified space by the week or month.

A dealer in private plates can be the best option if you don’t feel confident in your ability to find buyers or manage the sale. Dealers may have access to a greater number of buyers than you could hope for selling privately; they’re also experienced in haggling and getting the best price for a plate. If you’re uncomfortable with the paperwork involved or making sure the buyer pays, dealers can manage these parts of the arrangement for you and all you need to do is sit back and accept your payment. As they make a commission on each sale, dealers are motivated to get you the most money for your personal plate. They also have knowledge of market trends and selling history of what a plate like yours is likely to sell for, so can pitch the price correctly to attract buyers.

While selling your plate privately via an online auction house like eBay might feel like you’re more in control, it’s worth considering that, unlike dealer sites that specialise in private number plates, they are not as easy for buyers to search when they’re shopping for a specific plate. The superior search facilities on dealer websites allow buyers to see a wealth of results, which may contain yours if your plate fits their criteria.

If you’re confident in the worth of your private plate and your ability to sell and manage the transaction, including essential paperwork transfers and payments, selling a private plate via classified ads may be worth considering. However, selling this way puts not just the responsibilities of the sale in your hands but you must also do the work, which may involve arranging time consuming, multiple communications with many buyers.

Selling a private number plate on retention

A car owner can remove the private number plate from their car without attaching it to another. They can keep the number plate to use or sell later; this is commonly called putting a plate on retention. In the same way, it’s possible to buy a personalised number plate either as a gift or as a financial investment and put it on retention.

If you’ve purchased a private number plate that’s on retention, you’ll be issued a V778 certificate from the DVLA. If you choose to sell your plate, you’ll need this certificate to transfer ownership of the private registration to your buyer.