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Who Owns This Number Plate?

There’s a lot you can find out about a vehicle just from glancing at its number plate, and even more if you look it up online using the search facility on the government website. If you know a little about number plates, you can quickly find out how old a car is and where it was first registered.

The first two letters on present day number plates are an area code that represents where the vehicle was initially registered. The third and fourth characters indicate its age. If a car was registered between March and the end of August 2019 for example, these numerals would be 19, while if it was registered after September they would be 69. To pinpoint the age of cars to within six months, these second set of plates issued in a year add 50 to the year date.

With an online search of the DVLA’s database online, however, you can find out much more. The size of the vehicle’s engine and colour can be discovered, along with details about its carbon emissions. You can also track down if a car has been taxed or has a valid MOT.

Due to data protection laws however, you can’t easily find out who owns a number plate. If you’ve ever considered the question ‘who owns this number plate?’, read on for some interesting information on tracing plates.

Making an official request to the DVLA

There are many reasons why you might want to find out who owns a specific number plate. It could be on a vehicle that’s parked in a way that’s a nuisance to you, or even stationed on your private land. You might have seen a vehicle left unattended for a considerable length of time and fear it’s been abandoned. The reason you want to know who owns a plate might even be as simple as you’d like to purchase it, but whatever the reason, your first option is to contact the DVLA directly.

To access this information though, you’ll have to possess what the DVLA refer to as “reasonable cause”.

If you’re trying to track down an individual responsible for an accident, the DVLA can help and will also provide you with information if a vehicle has been left abandoned. You can request details on a plate’s keeper if the vehicle is stationed on private land too.

If you need to trace a number plate to issue parking tickets or trespass notices, you can contact the DVLA but must be either a member of the International Parking Community or British Parking Association.

The DVLA can also be consulted for information if you’re trying to track a number plate associated with a crime such as a driver pulling away without making proper payment for either services or goods. In this circumstance, you can also approach your local police first either at the station or by phone.

Unfortunately, if you’re simply seeking to purchase a specific number plate and are trying to track it down, the DVLA will refuse to help with your enquiries.

What do I need to make a request to the DVLA?

Along with a valid reason that the DVLA deems acceptable, you’ll need to complete some paperwork. If you’re an individual making the request, you must complete a V888 application form. If you’re a company, use the V888/3 form.

If you’re looking for certain number plate on a particular date, you can also use the V888/2A application form to find its registered keeper.

Other related FAQs

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

Usually, but there are a few exceptions. A private number plate can’t be transferred to a Q-registered vehicle, put on a car to make it look newer, or used on a vehicle that doesn’t require an HGV or MOT certificate.

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.

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.

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.

A number plate’s value varies according to how desirable and unusual it is. A number plate featuring a name, word or initials that a lot of people want is likely to fetch a higher price.

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.

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.

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.

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.

It’s widely believed that you cannot add a personalised number plate to a leased car, but as long as you liaise with the lease company and take a few simple steps, you are able to change the number plates.