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How to get a private plate without breaking the bank

It is a very common misconception that all personalised number plates are expensive, indeed you can often snap up some great bargains if you broaden your criteria. Indeed even so-called ‘cheap’ number plates can enhance the look of some high-quality marques and it certainly holds true that you really don’t need to break the bank, especially with prices starting from as low as £65 plus transfer fees. 

Here is everything you need to know about buying a cheap plate.

What is a cheap number plate?

A personalised plate may not necessarily cost the earth but even cheap ones don’t need to be tacky. Indeed they can usually be purely a combination of numbers and letters which mean nothing to the owner. They can contain somewhat obscure letters such as X, Y or Z and are often used by owners to remove the age identifier, hence the term ‘Cover’ registrations. 

There are numerous combinations or styles of ‘cheap’ registration plates, there are: Three Letters & Three Numbers; Two Letters & Four Numbers; Three Letters & Four Numbers.

Understandably those with less common initials can often find less expensive plates with their initials contained in the combination, for example VHY compared to ABS.

You can also search for make-your-own plates, these being known as prefix or current-style registrations with prices starting at £155 plus VAT.

One thing that you must ensure is that your number plate must adhere fully to DVLA rules and regulations. To ensure that your registration meets regulations, make sure that you purchase it from a reputable supplier and that you have your plates made by a DVLA registered number plate supplier.

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Is this the best Brexit plate on UK roads?

A classic car enthusiast is the proud owner of the registration BRX 514T and one could be forgiven that he was a keen supporter of the UK’s impending departure from the European Union. In fact, he’s the complete opposite and is a keen remainer.

When he purchased the car, the registration on it had no meaning whatsoever, ‘Brexit’ not even entering the public vocabulary. Nevertheless he has since considered getting rid of the car in order to distance himself from the attention which it has been receiving.

Indeed he has even been approached in an aggressive manner from members of the public who believe that he is a Brexiteer, despite voting ‘Remain’ in the referendum. Some pedestrians have been known to shake their fists when he drives past while others simply scowl.

The owner of the car has even thought about trying to sell it to Nigel Farage when he decides to get rid of it.

The owner, Mr Vinter, said: “When I first viewed the car the penny never dropped. I just didn’t realise what the letters said when you put them together.

“I find it funny and infuriating at the same time. I’m a Remainer but when people have asked me about it they think I’m a Brexiteer.

“[The plate is] part of the car’s history. I may consider changing it in the future if it continues to draw attention I don’t necessarily want.

“It’s my pride and joy and I love it. But it is slightly tainted by the number plate. It is just a coincidence but as time goes on, I would be open to offers.

“I do wonder if Nigel Farage might want to buy it off me.”

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What are the most expensive Football number plates?

Premier League and Championship footballers are well-known for their love of nice cars and these usually come attached with a personalised number plate. Indeed Harry Maguire was recently seen leading the Manchester United HQ with his name on the number plate, however many football supporters choose to splash out on a personalised registration number which announces which team they show their allegiance to.

Over the past few years, some of the more sought-after footy-related registration numbers have realised vast sums of money both at DVLA auctions and privately. Indeed the highest grossing sale in this market went to WE57 HAM which sold for a whopping £58,320 at a DVLA auction.

Indeed with football fans amongst some of the most dedicated supporters of any sport, it’s little wonder that some choose to show their allegiance via a personalised number plate.

Here are the top ten highest grossing football-related number plates

WE57 HAM  –  £58,320

AR53 NAL  –  £46,736

HU11 CTY  –  £46,736

V1 LLA  –  £45,440

ALB 10N  –  £24,000

BR15 TOL  –  £20,168

DER 8Y  –  £18,872

M417 UTD  –  £17,835

S41 NTS  –  £14,984

PRE 570N  –  £11,953

OK so the prices above may be eye-watering to some, however there are other, cheaper ways to incorporate your football team into a registration number. How about combining certain elements of your chosen team with your initials, for example an Aston Villa fan called Andy Smith may decide to go for AV50 AND or AV11 LLA. Similarly private plates featuring RFC or CFC are extremely popular amongst followers of Scottish Premiership sides Rangers and Celtic respectively, while an LFC prefix or suffix would clearly appeal to those of an Anfield persuasion.

NOTE: Always ensure that any arrangement and display of numbers and letters on a registration number must always be fully compliant with DVLA rules and regulations. Failure to do so could result in the user being issued with a fine and possible confiscation of the private registration.

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Act now or you could lose your private number plate

All drivers who own personalised registration numbers are being urged that they may lose the right to use them should they fail to ensure that all their paperwork is bang up-to-date by the end of 2019. Millions of drivers throughout the country own personalised registration numbers, however a large number of these have them on retention – ie: they don’t have them assigned to any vehicle. Indeed with some registrations being valued as much as £500,000, they are being seen by many as an investment and it is certainly true that they have generally been increasing in value as demand increases. Nevertheless DVLA changes could result in some motorists losing the right to their investments.

If you have a private plate on retention, you need to renew the certificate of entitlement each ten years and this can be done for free. If you fail to do this in time you can currently buy back your right to use the registration from the DVLA if you obtained the relevant V778 or V750 certificate prior to March 9th 2015 and it expired later than May 1st 2011. However from 18th December 2019, the DVLA will no longer accept applications for renewal of any expired retention certificates, therefore if you fail to renew before then you will lose your right to use the registration number. Indeed the DVLA has made it clear that any entitlement lapse after 18th December 2019 will result in the registration not being reassigned to either the previous keeper or anyone else and it will simply disappear.

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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 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.