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Media post: 6 Tips for Choosing the Right Personalised License Plates

There is no question that motorists develop a driving style and a personal connection with their automobiles. This has led to a strong desire to personalise motorcycles and cars and what better way to do this than with a personalised license plate?

There are so many good reasons to personalise your vehicles with a private plate. Some people like a private plate because it is a status symbol, others like the novel fashion statement and finally others simply prefer having something a little more specific and personal on their pride and joy.

What is the cost of buying a private number plate?

The first thing almost everyone wants to know about getting a personalised license plate is how much the whole thing is going to cost. The good news is that buying a personal or private license plate is an investment. As a matter of fact a private license plate number can cost as much as a hundred pounds or more. In an auction held by the DVLA, a license plate “IG 1” sold for an incredible £222,000. It has now become the third most costly registration plate in the UK, since “25 0” sold for £400,000 in 2014 and “1 D” sold for over £285,000 in 2009.

How much does a private number plate cost?

So, what makes the “IG 1” plate so special that someone would pay such a large amount? Well obviously, the buyer, Ian Guest, felt there was something special about it. Furthermore, it is also the very last double-letter and single number license plate in the DVLA registration.

But there is good news as well. Personalised registrations don’t have to cost some exorbitant amount of money. There are many factors that will play into how much your plates will cost. For example, the location of the plate, who the previous owner may have been, how long it has been on the market, the amount of interest in this plate and the existence of other plates just like it. All of these points will have to be considered when you get into the market for a private plate. Essentially, this is the same thing you will have to consider on any market.

A private plate that has a very low supply but a very high demand is going to increase in value over time. On the other hand, there may be many other very similar plates on the market that are not going to cost nearly as much. For example, those private number plates that come from Northern Ireland, which are perfectly legal for cars on the mainland. There are many of these items on the market and they are not very costly to purchase and use, some can be bought for as low as £65, plus the VAT and fees for transfers.

Why are these plates so cheap? Many of these plates that are issued in Northern Ireland are called cover plates. These plates have been issued by the government and cost very little. Later, when the current reg mark is sold as a private number plate, a brand-new plate is issued. This can be repeated many times and is the reason there are so many private number plates on the market.

Then there are the private license plates that are not in such abundant supply and are therefore more costly. There are several types of places known as “cherished” plates. These are practically antiques because of their considerable age and this is reflected in their high prices.  A good example will be the plate reading “R2 YAN” clearly this plate would be perfect from anyone with a name that matches. This may make the plate especially desirable to a certain selection of customers willing to pay a high price for this plate.

But, how much does it cost to OWN a private number plate?

Up till this point we have discussed at length what it costs to buy the plate, but we have not discussed what it actually costs to own a plate. This is another topic completely. But the good news is that it really doesn’t cost that much.

A Private plate is not actually a thing in itself, it can be considered a façade. When a private plate is purchased it belongs to the vehicle to which it will be registered, not the person as many people assume. There are no annual fees to pay so long as the plate is where it belongs on the car. There may be a MOT or tax that will have to be paid at some point, but there are no actual fees for owning the license plate.

DVLA Transfer Costs

There is a transfer charge required by the DVLA, this is applied when people want to retain registration certificates or when changing or transferring the registration. This is another cost that you will want to include in your calculations when making your decision.

For Vehicle to Vehicle:

If you will be transferring the registration from one vehicle to another the fee of £80 will have to be paid and this can either be done online or through the mail. Payments must be made to the DVLA and the appropriate documents must also be submitted at the same time, typically this is the V5C and any other paperwork that is being requested.

Both of the vehicles involved in this transaction must meet the correct standards. This includes being up to date on taxes and MOT.

The £80 fee covers:

The new plate that will be provided to the original or “donor” vehicle, the vehicle that is passing on the plate to the buyer. The DVLA will issue a new standard age plate that will take the place of the plate it is missing. This will often be the first number under which the vehicle was registered.

It is traditional in these transactions where the private plate is being sold for the buyer to shoulder the fees for the DVLA and their transfer costs. Many of these transactions are arranged through a private plate dealer. The dealer will take care of submitting all the paperwork; they will also act as a safeguard and only release the money to the seller once the DVLA transfer has been successfully completed.

Plate dealers are regulated by these trade organizations: 

RMI – Retail Motor Industry Federation

MIRAD – Cherished Numbers Guild and institute of Registration Agents & Dealers

CNDA – Cherished Numbers Dealers Association

Make sure the dealers you are using for your tradeoff have been licensed by one of these authorities.

If you want to take the registration off of a vehicle but save it for later, you will need to submit a form for the retention certificate (V778). You can choose to do this online or through the mail but your vehicle must also meet specific criteria. There will be a fee of £80 and you will get a certificate that says you can reuse the registration on a new vehicle within ten years. You will then receive a reminder when your time is about to run out.

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