There are a number of companies that sell number plates online, or you can go to sites like eBay where people can post adverts of the plates up for sale. The DVLA also has a selection of number plates for sale.
Most sites have a search facility, so you can simply type in a search keyword to find a variety of number plates that may be of interest to you. To have a better chance of finding the plates you want, stick to short words of two to four letters, or a combination of numbers and letters such as MAG1C. You may need to go to several online sites to find the plate you want.
Prices vary from a few hundred to many thousands of pounds depending on the rarity of the number and the supply and demand for the plate.
Like any online purchases, security is important. Many number plate dealers are members of the Cherished Numbers Dealers Association (CNDA) whose members confirm that the number you want to purchase is legally eligible to be transferred.
Anyone selling a number plate must have official documents issued by the DVLA confirming that they are the legal owner of the number plate and it is eligible to be transferred to you. They will either have a form V750 Certificate of Entitlement or a V778 Retention Document.
Number plate dealers will make sure that all the plates on their site can be legally transferred to you, and many will help you with the transfer and assigning the plate to your vehicle.
In case the site is not genuine, it’s advisable to pay by credit card. That way, you should be refunded if the transaction is fraudulent.
What to do after you purchase the plate online?
You do not receive a physical number plate to put on your car when you purchase a number plate online. What you are purchasing is a right to use the number plate. You need to make the transfer to your name through the DVLA by post, or more conveniently, online from the DVLA website.
Remember, you don't have to put the number on your car – you can simply keep it without assigning the number to a vehicle. The DVLA charges a fee to register the number plate in your name.
To assign it to a vehicle, apply through the DVLA website. You can also do this by post. The DVLA will send you a replacement log book (form V5C) for your car with the new number. After the assignment is complete, go to a motor accessory shop who will make you a new set of number plates to attach to your vehicle. You will also need to inform your car insurance company of the change.
Transferring ownership to you and assigning the number to a car can take a few weeks. Don’t forget, you cannot legally drive a car with the new number until the assignment has been completed.
Once you own a number plate, you are entitled to sell it. If it’s on a car, you will need to inform the DVLA that you wish to remove it and they will assign a new number to the car. This will normally be the original car registration number. After that, you’ll receive a document from the DVLA that entitles you to sell the plate online or offline.