The buying and selling of personalised number plates is a thriving trade in here in the UK. To many car owners a private plate adds the finishing and personal touch to a vehicle. Available to buy from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and online brokers, personalised plates command prices from a few hundred pounds to many thousands depending on demand.
It’s possible to buy a private registration without even owning a car. Number plates can be purchased and held on retention to use at a later date. Before buying a personalised plate, it’s a good idea to make sure you can legally assign it to your intended vehicle, as there are some exceptions.
You can’t make a car look newer than it is by adding a younger plate
Unlike many other countries across the globe, number plates on UK cars display their age. The third and fourth digits of the current style of number plate indicate how old your car is. Each year there are two sets of plates issued one in spring and the other in autumn.
If your car is registered between March 1st and September 1st your number plate will take the third and fourth character from the last two digits of the date. For example, if your car’s registered between these months in 2019, the two numerals will be 1 and 9, so anyone can clearly see your car’s age. If your vehicle is registered after September 1st, 2019 and before March 1st, 2020 the numbers on your plate are created by taking the date and adding 50, which means you’ll have a 6 and a 9 on your plate.
Using this number plate system, people buying cars can quickly gauge how old a car is to within six months. If your car is registered in 2016, your personal plate must not feature a 19, for example, as this is seen as a misrepresentation of your vehicle’s age and considered unlawful.
The same rules apply to older number plates that feature a letter to indicate the year it was registered rather than numerals, they must not be added to older vehicles to make them appear younger.
Vehicles that don’t require HGV or MOT test certification
It isn’t possible to assign a personal number plate to a vehicle that doesn’t need an annual MOT test or a heavy goods vehicle certificate. Example of such vehicles would be a farm tractor or a machine for road repair like a steam roller.
Q registration numbers are issued by the DVLA when the agency has doubts about a vehicle’s identity or age. The registration will begin with the letter Q and this DVLA classification on a vehicle forbids it carrying a personalised number plate.
If you’ve got a kit car that’s Q-plated, you can apply to the DVLA to use a private plate if you have evidence of its age.
Vehicles that already have a personalised plate
If you’d like to assign your personalised plate to a car that already has a private plate, you can do this through the DVLA. Your old private plate can be kept on a retention certificate and your new one will be assigned to your chosen vehicle. To do this, you’ll need your car’s V5 registration document (also known as a logbook) and £80 to cover the DVLA fee.