For many car owners, a private number plate adds the most personal finishing touch to any vehicle. In the last 25 years, the market for personalised plates has seen a boom. While once more commonly associated with celebrities like footballers and film stars, private plates are now a regular sight on UK roads.
Registrations featuring or indicating names, words and common phrases are particularly sought after. Seeing the potential of this market, the DVLA got involved. It is now a stockist of private plates for purchase and has sold over six million of them.
If you’re wondering how to find a private number plate, read on for some information and tips.
The three main ways to buy a personalised plate
1. Direct from the DVLA
Buying directly from the DVLA is one option when you’re looking to pick up a personalised plate. With an easy-to-use search facility, you can enter in your specific search criteria online and try and locate your perfect plate. The DVLA system will cross reference your specifications and show you a list of results based on them that might fit the bill. All the number plates listed will be brand new and never used on a vehicle. From time to time, the DVLA will also hold auctions where you can bid on number plates, so keep your eyes open. Fixed price purchases tend to be a better option if price is important, as auction-style buying can get quickly become expensive once the bidding starts.
2. Number plate dealers and brokers
Brokers and dealers can be useful when you’re selling a personalised number plate, and they are also worth checking out when you want to buy one of these plates. These companies purchase plates to sell on to buyers.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for on the DVLA site, dealers and brokers may well be your best bet. Just like the DVLA, dealer websites often feature handy search tools to track down a plate that fits what you’re looking for. This means that purchasing a new number plate in this way can be quick and convenient.
3. Private sellers
In the classified ads of newspaper car supplements and in physical and online editions of auto publications, you’ll find private number plates being sold. Registrations sold by private sellers are sometimes the most expensive, but they’re still worth considering if you’re seeking a specific number plate that you know exists. Private sellers also sometimes advertise their plates online via sites such as eBay.
How much does a personalised number plate cost?
Private number plates up for sale can range from a few hundred pounds to thousands depending on demand. Plates that feature popular names or words tend to go for the highest prices, as well as those that hold a special meaning for a group of buyers. For example, plates with numerals 9 and 11 are highly sought after by Porsche owners.
Shorter number plates often command a higher price tag too as this typically means they’re much older. Plates that have been used by famous people or on well-known vehicles can also sell for significantly more.
The cost of plates is determined by supply and demand, so if you’re searching for one that is unusual and is likely to be desired by a lot of people, you can expect to have to stump up significantly more than if you went for a less popular, more generic plate.