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How To Get A Private Number Plate

Where do private number plates originate?

You may well be wondering where private registrations come from in the first place, especially if you haven’t had one before. The DVLA issues all new car registration numbers in the UK, and the organisation also now offers personalised registrations.

In fact, the DVLA withholds certain numbers and letters if it predicts they will be in demand, and sells these on to interested members of the public. This has applied since the “new style” registrations began in 2001.

For example, in the Manchester region, the DLVA have placed the letters O, R, S and Y on reserve - presumably because they spell MO, MR, MS and MY respectively, and these are likely to be sought-after combinations.

Before September 2001, prefix style plates were used, with the letter at the start indicating the car’s year of registration. Prior to 1983, when the prefix style began, the suffix system was in use and the year of registration was the last character on the number plate rather than the first. The suffix-style plates were used between 1963 and 1983. Prior to this, the general rule that applies is that the shorter the registration mark, the older the plate. The first plate ever issued in London was ‘A1’.

Where do I get a private number plate?

The simplest way to begin looking is to perform a search online. There are a whole host of organisations, including the DVLA Personalised Registrations service, who deal in private plates. Each site’s search will vary a little, but the search tools do tend to be very user-friendly as well as effective. You can search by the sequence of letters or numbers you want to find, and the system will give you a list of personal plates that might suit. You may even find the exact combination you desire straight away.

The prices are normally displayed alongside the available registration numbers, so you will soon get an idea of what is available and how much it would cost. If the prices are very high, then it’s likely that you’ve chosen a very popular combination that would be desired by many people.

You can, however, obtain private registrations for under £200, so it is possible to discover an affordable combination that can be yours.

If you have a name that is commonly used in Britain, such as Dave, Sarah, Dan, Matthew or Helen, then perhaps try searching for your initials, especially if they form a less common combination. This tactic is likely to turn up cheaper options, as well as more choice.

Where do I get the physical plates?

Assuming you find the right combination for you at an affordable price, how do you obtain the yellow and white plates that you display on your vehicle?

According to the DVLA, you must use a government registered number plate supplier. This service may be offered if you buy your private registration from a specialist company. If you want to get your plates locally, try motoring retailers or other outlets such as key cutting or shoe repair shops. You can also order plates online.

A good reason to use a registered number plate supplier is that they will be familiar with the strict guidelines governing the type of plates that are legally permissible, as precise criteria apply regarding colour, font, spacing and more.

Other related FAQs

Looking for more related content to this? We’ve picked a selection of related topics that you may find helpful

You’ll find a variety of finance products available for purchasing a private number plate. These agreements allow you to pay in monthly installments, helping you to spread the cost of your new plate.

If you’re searching for a personalised number plate, there are three main options to consider: you can buy directly from the DVLA at fixed or auction price, through a registration plate dealer in person or online, or purchase privately.

You can buy a personalised number plate from an individual or an organisation as long as they can show that they are the legal owner of the plate. You can then assign the number to your car if you wish.

Always a popular addition to vehicles, there are many websites that allow you to purchase number plates online, including the DVLA. It is safe to buy personalised number plates online as long as you take a few simple precautions.

You can buy your personalised registration from the DVLA or specialist vendors and then get them made up by auto retail outlets such as Halfords, but you’ll need to provide your vehicle log book and proof of ID.

The price of a personalised car number plate in the secondary market is determined by supply and demand. Number plates featuring popular names, words or initials that are attractive to many people tend to come with a higher price tag.

Whether as a gift or for yourself, it’s perfectly possible to buy a number plate without a car. The registration will be put on a certificate allowing you to use or gift it to someone at a later date.

The vast majority of private number plates are sold online, via either the DVLA or one of the other websites that specialises in selling registration numbers. Otherwise, you might be able to obtain one privately or at an auction.