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Are Personalised Number Plates A Good Investment?

For a personalised number plate to have a high value, it needs to have significance for many people. A number plate with your initials may not be relevant to a lot of people, for example, but number plates containing common names like Paul, John or Emma are always likely to be more valuable.

Your new car could come with a number plate that contains a name. This can be worth a lot to someone with that name. After all, most people buy a personalised number plate because it has some relevance to them.

Over time, the number plate can increase in value, and you can drive your car carrying the personalised number as it does so. You can sell the number plate at any time if you need the money, or keep it and assign it to a new car when you decide to sell your old car.

There is no limit on how many personalised number plates you own as long as you have the official DVLA retention certificate for each of them. You can buy plates that you think will increase in value over time. Generally, the most prized plates are the cherished plates.

The risks and rewards

Investing in number plates is like buying stocks and shares. You are speculating that a plate will increase in value, but such an increase is not guaranteed. Prices of number plates fluctuate and can go down as well as up.

If you decide to invest in number plates, it is impossible to calculate how much your number plates will be worth in a few years’ time. VIP 1 was sold for £285,000 in 2006. M1 fetched £330,000 in 2006 and £440,000 was paid for F1 in 2008. The most expensive number plate was the single digit 1, which sold for £7 million in an Abu Dhabi auction in 2008. These number plates have increased in value since they were sold. High prices like this are the exception, of course, with most plates going for much more modest amounts.

As long as you're not expecting to become a millionaire overnight and are happy to do your homework, you can make good profits from buying and selling personalised plates.

Which plates should I buy?

The art of number plate investment is finding the plates that will increase in value over time. The most popular are those that contain first names, as well as those with few digits, such as the aforementioned VIP 1. Look for numbers that combine letters and digits that mean something next to each other. Examples are MAG1C and J4YOU.

You can search the internet for plates costing from a few hundred pounds to several thousand. The higher the perceived demand for a registration number, the higher the price. 

After you have purchased the plates, you will need to apply to the DVLA to change their ownership. You can then either simply retain the plates ready to sell if their value increases, or assign a number to a car you drive.

You can check the value of a plate on car number selling sites. Simply enter the plate number in the search box and you will receive a valuation. Some dealers will also reveal how many people are looking for a number plate similar to yours.

Provided you are aware of the risks, investing in personalised number plates can bring good returns compared to many other types of investment.

Other related FAQs

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

You must inform the DVLA if you wish to remove your personalised number plate and replace it with the car’s original plate. It costs £80 to remove personalised plates and this can be done online or by post.

Guernsey number plates are issued sequentially and differ to those in mainland UK. They consist solely of numerals, featuring an oval showing the characters “GBG”. Along with standard white and yellow plates, they can display silver characters on black.

Acquiring a private plate won’t mean your car insurance goes up, but you’ll need to inform your insurer of the plate change and should ask for a letter confirming they have no interest in your private plate.

Creating your own personalised number plate is relatively simple, and many websites are designed to make this process easier. However, there are some rules about what you can and can’t choose for your registration number.

UK number plates change every March and September, on the first of the month. This is when the year identifier changes, for example from 19 to 69 in 2019/20. The former applies from March, and the latter from September.

Having an illuminated number plate is a legal requirement, so it's important that you replace your number plate bulb if it fails. This a simple process which anyone can complete, and replacement bulbs are readily available in shops and online.

The process of removing a personalised number plate from a vehicle will differ depending on whether you want to save the number plate for future use, sell it on, or immediately reassign it to another vehicle.

It is fairly simple to fit a replacement number plate to your car in just a few steps. You can either use screws to fix it in place, or opt for double-sided pads to secure it.

A simple transfer from one vehicle to another can be completed online with the DVLA and you can make the switch as soon as you've finished the process. Organising it by post takes longer – expect two to five weeks.

You can discover certain information about the vehicle that a number plate is on fairly simply, but to find out who it actually belongs to is a little more tricky. Your best port of call is the DVLA.