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Private registration sales continue to soar in UK

There was a time not so long ago when there were very few personalised registrations on Britain’s roads and when you did actually see one, it was usually attached to a very expensive and desirable motor vehicle at an exclusive location. That certainly isn’t the case nowadays however with personalised number plates hugely popular and found at all corners of the country.

Some of these private plates sell for many thousands of pounds, however many which can be seen on UK roads can cost far less than that with many running into hundreds of pounds as opposed to thousands.

The growth of personalised or ‘cherished’ number plates has been phenomenal in recent years and this has contributed to some plates enjoying soaring resale values. Indeed the amount of money raised from private plate sales by the DVLA has more than doubled over the past three years and this only accounts for those sales from the DVLA itself, this government body only selling new registrations which have never before been issued. Private sales continue to grow year-on-year and while we don’t know the exact figure in this sector, there is little doubt that the prospects look good for the years ahead.

How big has the growth rate actually been? One glance at the DVLA figures bear out the fact that private registration sales show no sign of slowing down any time soon.

2014/15 – £80,000,000

2015/16 – £97,000,000

2016/17 – £110,000,000

2017/18 – £162,000,000

There is no indication whatsoever that there will be any slow-down in the popularity of personalised number plates with the more exclusive options continuing to command huge prices. Indeed both private sellers and the DVLA report strong sales growth and we can expect to see more and more private registration numbers on UK roads in the years ahead.

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Scooter with rare number plate sells for £91,000

A clapped-out scooter which doesn’t even run has sold at auction for a whopping £91,000 due to the desirability of its number plate. The rusting machine itself was worth less than £1000 and the likelihood is that it will be scrapped, however the J68 registration number is hugely desirable and attracted huge interest when it went under the hammer in Jersey. An anonymous buyer splashed out a whopping £91,000 for the used scooter, making this an auction record for a plate containing a single number.

Despite the costly price tag attached to the registration number, the scooter itself is a 50cc model which isn’t even  in running order. 

Shorter private number plates are hugely popular in the UK with some fetching well into six figures. The previous record at auction for a short registration number was £80,000 for “J19”.

By law, any registration number must be fixed to a motor vehicle when it is sold, in order to prevent any interested buyers from purely purchasing the registration number. The scooter which J68 was attached to costs £1500 when new, meaning that the buyer could have bought 62 scooters for the same price as the registration number.

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Don’t lose your cherished plate if your car is written off

1 mb reg plate

The private number plate in the UK is huge and continues to grow year on year, however buyers need to be aware of the risk associated with stolen or written-off vehicles.

Of the 380,000 number plates auctioned off by the DVLA last year, most will have cost little more than a few hundred pounds apiece. Nevertheless a leading car insurance comparison site looked at 302 comprehensive insurance policies and found that a mere 19 of these covered the loss of a personalised registration number. Indeed even if you are covered, you might not get back what you paid for it.

The big problem isn’t just that the registration number plate isn’t covered, it’s also when something happens to the vehicle that it is attached to. Remember that a registration number is assigned to a motor vehicle, not a person who purchased it. As such, if the insurance company claim the car in the event of it being written off, then they also get the plates. 

The good news is that there are steps that you can take in order to get your cherished plates back. Quite simply, let your insurer know that you wish to keep your registration number in the event of the car being stolen or written off. You will also need to tell the DVLA and inform your insurer that they are happy to let you have the registration number (you may have to pay a fee to your insurer for doing so). Then you will need to pay a retention fee to keep the registration should you not have another vehicle to assign it to.

If your car is scrapped, then the plate could disappear with it and if your vehicle is stolen and not recovered, then you will need to wait a year before you can reclaim the plates and also prove that the car was taxed and had a valid MOT at time of the theft.

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World’s most expensive number plate for sale

The registration number ‘F 1’ is believed to be owned by Afzal Kahn, founder of Kahn Design and it is now up for sale with an eye-watering asking price of £14.4 million. This registration was last seen on the owner’s Bugatti Veyron and was listed for sale for the first time in over ten years in 2018. As yet no buyers have come forward but it is without a doubt the most sought-after plate in the country – and the world – given its clear links to Formula One racing. 

Kahn is reported to have purchased the registration number from Essex Council for what now seems like a bargain price of £375,000. The council had been owners of the number plate for over 100 years and we imagine that they’ll be wishing they’d held onto it for a while longer.

It is alleged that Kahn turned down a previous offer of £6 million five years ago and it has now been listed for sale for £12 million. Add to that the taxes and VAT which any buyer would need to shell out and the top-line price becomes a staggering £14.4 million. Such a sale would completely shatter the current UK record holder which is ’25 O’, bought for £518,480 in 2014 and fitted on a Ferrari 250 GT SWB.

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Private plates, what is driving the R15 ING trend?

The trend for private registration numbers has never been higher, something of an irony in an era of increasing individuality. Indeed the DVLA sales of private number plates grew by 12% last year to an annual total of 374,968 with business just as good for private number plate retailers, their market share steadily rising for the past five years or so.

The reasons for such continued growth aren’t too hard to fathom. For one thing, a personalised registration can make the age of a car difficult to determine, however social media also plays a large part. People post images of their cars on Facebook, Instagram etc. and a private plate certainly adds a touch of ‘look at me’ to the post. 

And why not? It’s very much a feel good factor and in these austere times, we all need lifting from time to time. More importantly of course, these private plate sales add a lot to the economy with the DVLA’s sale of personalised plates bringing in £100 million to the treasury each year. 

At entry level, a private plate could set you back around £250 plus reassignment fees and there are approximately 800 of these sold every day. At the opposite end of the scale, some registration plates can patch upwards of £500,000 and these ‘higher level’ plates have become increasingly seen as investments. Indeed the general rule is that the costlier the plate, the more it will grow in value in years to come. A notable example is ‘F 1″ which was bought for around £400,000 in 2008 but is now reckoned to be worth anywhere between £10 and £15 million.

One thing is for certain, private number plates are big business and they will continue to be for may years to come!

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The Do’s and Don’ts about Private number plates

There are a huge amount of misconceptions surrounding personalised number plates although many of them are unjustified or simply not true. You’ll hear plenty of personal opinions on practically every subject related to the use or display of private registration numbers, however the hard part is deciding which is true and which is a load of old cobblers. Here’s a few home truths about private number plates:

1: You aren’t allowed to rearrange your registration number

Strange as it may seem, many people believe that you can simply rearrange the numbers and letters to your liking, however this couldn’t be further from the truth. The DVLA has extremely strict regulations as to how your number plate should be displayed and if you decide to alter these in any way whatsoever, you could be fined up to £1000 and your car will likely fail its MOT.

2: Buying private registration plates

There are a wealth of specialised websites advertising personalised number plates although only a handful come up to the mark when it comes to delivering on their sales patter. As well as actually buying your number plate, you will likely want someone to all the hard work associated with it and UKNumberplates.co.uk can help in that regard by doing all the leg work from beginning to end. 

3: You can’t get just any number you wish

Even if a number plate hasn’t been issued, it doesn’t simply mean that you can get it for yourself. The DVLA have omitted many registration numbers on the grounds that they are deemed offensive, therefore there’s absolutely no guarantee that you will get the registration of your dreams.

4: If your car is stolen, you CAN get your registration number back

Should you have your car stolen and the police aren’t able to recover it within twelve months, you can apply to the DVLA to have the registration number reassigned to any replacement vehicle. There are criteria which must be met however: You must report the crime as soon as you find out that it has occurred and the theft must then be held on file by the DVLA for at least 12 months (up to 3 years). You must contact your insurers and get them to notify the DVLA that they have no problem with your registration being reassigned. Most importantly, the car which you are reassigning the registration to must not be made to appear newer as a result of the re-registration ie: if your private registration is PR16 BOB, you can’t reassign this reg to a car registered prior to 2016.

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DVLA banned number plates for 2019

Every year there are two sets of registration numbers released by the DVLA onto new vehicles and for every release there are some which are automatically omitted from the lists due to them being deemed offensive in some way or another. 

With many thousands of letter and number combinations being introduced each year in the UK, there are certain to be many which could be misconstrued and to avoid the possibility of this occurring, the DVLA remove them from general circulation. 

Indeed certain combinations are banned automatically such as ASS and SEX while other combinations are also restricted should they spell a rude word or suggest some overly political or religious undertones.

Some of this year’s omissions include the likes of DO19 POO, BU19 GRY and OR19 SMS. 

A spokesman for the DVLA said: 

 “The vast majority of registration numbers are made available but the Agency holds back any combinations that may cause offence, embarrassment or are in poor taste.

“Many people enjoy displaying a personalised registration number and there are over 50 million registrations available on our website, https://dvlaregistrations.dvla.gov.uk, with almost endless possibilities of combinations to suit a person’s taste, interests, and budget with prices starting at just £250.”

Here is a list of some of the registration numbers which have been removed prior to general circulation in 2019:

S19 AGS, NO19 NCE, NO19 MUM, HU19 DCK, MM19 NGE, SH19 HOT, DO19 POO, EA19 DKS, LV19 NAL, CR19 MES, DR19 GGS, FR19 PLY, AS19 OLE, BU19 SHT, FE19 ATE, EA19 POO, NO19 BER, BO19 OCK, BA19 AGS

Here are some of the other registrations which have banned in recent years:

PU15SSY, PA12EDO, SC12OTM, DR12UNK, BU62GER, AR67OLE, HE12OIN, BA67ARD, MU12DER, DR12UGS, LE12ZER, CR12PLE, P15OFF, TE12ROR. Some registrations manage avoid the censor and make it into general circulation such as JH11HAD which was recently spotted in Wales

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Driver spends £130,000 on number plates

A Taxi driver has splashed out a whopping £130,000 on private registration numbers for his private hire motor vehicles. 

Private registrations are very big business in this country and as well as motorists being able to personalise their vehicles in this manner, there is an undoubted element of ‘investment’ given that the majority of ‘cherished plates’ will command a heftier price once they are sold on.

Indeed one of the most expensive private number plates ever bought was ‘F 1’ for a massive £440,000, however the most recent price estimate for this plate is around £10,000,000. Tidy profit on that!

Boss of Capital Cars – Stephen Ross – splashed out a cool £130,000 on two registrations which are perfect for his company, TAX 15 and TAX 1 being sold to him for £38,000 and £92,000 respectively. These number plates now adorn two of the company’s Tesla electric vehicles.

The most expensive number plate sold to date in the UK is ’25 O’ which realised £518,000 in 2014. Shorter number plates with less letters and numbers can command bigger sums as can ones which spell out a specific phrase or word. 

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How do you transfer a number plate from one vehicle to another?

2 AB Number Plate Reg

With all of the local DVLA offices closed down, we are constantly being asked how to transfer a private registration number between vehicles. Indeed while the process itself is very simple indeed, the forms which accompany every application can make it seem somewhat daunting.

To transfer a private registration number from one car to another, you require the following items:

  1. A V5 registration form for both cars
  2. If either vehicle is over 3 years old, then a valid MOT is required
  3. Cheque made payable to DVLA for £80.00, this is to cover transfer fee
  4. A completed V317 transfer form

When you have the first three items in place, you can download the V317 form from the DVLA website. Then you must complete the details of the donor vehicle (the one which the registration number is being transferred from) on the left hand side of the form and the receiving vehicle (the one which the registration number will be going onto) on the right hand side of the form. Each owner will need to signs this transfer form at the bottom (this will confirm the application) and this, along with a cheque for £80.00 (payable to DVLA) must be sent to: DVLA, Swansea SA99 1DS.

The transfer time as quoted by DVLA is between 4 and 6 weeks although generally it takes less time than that (in our experience around 3 weeks is the norm). Once the transfer is completed, DVLA will send you your new V5 document with the new registration number on it and you can order your new number plates. Also remember to notify your motor insurance company of the change in vehicle details

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Make sure your number plate is LEGAL

Millions of UK motorists either already own or dream of owning a private registration number and the vast majority do so without any problems whatsoever. Nevertheless an increasing number of users are attracting the attention of the authorities over their misuse of their cherished plate.

All motorists must adhere to certain rules with regard to their number plates otherwise they risk receiving a fine which could cost up to £1000. Not only that but their car could also fail an MOT should their number plate contain even the most minor error.

Forst and foremost, drivers must ensure that their registration number is roadworthy and legal by adhering to certain rules. The number plate must be clear and legible with no obscuring by grime or dirt. Failure to ensure that this is the case could result in a hefty fine. 

The reason why the registration number must be clean is so that it can be read by the police and automatic number plate recognition cameras which are installed throughout the country. 

Not only that but a plate cannot have any background overprinting whatsoever and no fixture is allowed which could conceivably alter the appearance or legibility of any character on the plate. Font sizing and spacing must adhere to DVLA rules although when you order a number plate from any reputable dealer in the UK it will reflect these rules.

Number plates must follow the following conditions :

  • have black characters placed upon a while background when fitted to front of vehicle
  • have black characters placed upon a yellow background when fitted to rear of vehicle
  • be fitted vertically or as close as possible to both front and rear