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A buyer’s guide to private number plates

If you’re looking for either a way to personalise your much loved set of wheels, or are trying to find a gift with a difference, then a private number plate may well provide the perfect answer. Depending upon what you’re looking for, personalised number plates can range from relatively modest prices to hundreds (if not thousands of pounds), so ensuring that you’re getting the best deal, and that your number plates are legal, is essential. In this guide we talk you through the basics of purchasing your very own private number plate.

How private number plates work

When purchasing a personalised number plate you’re actually buying the right to assign a number plate of your choice to whichever vehicle you have. If you’re buying it for someone else then they’ll have to be named when you purchase (and are known in the transaction as ‘the nominee’).

If you’re choosing your own then you’ll purchase through the DVLA Personalised Registrations online, or if you’re purchasing one that already exists then you’ll be buying through either a DVLA auction or from a motorist or private trader. Following your purchase from any of these places you’ll receive a certificate of entitlement (known as a V750) as proof of your ownership.

Finding the best deal for your personalised number plate

Generally private companies that sell personalised number plates will have a feature on their website where you can search for the specific numbers and letters you want. This will return to you an instant quote. The fewer characters you have on your number plate the more expensive is likely to be.

Additionally, if you find that someone already has the specific number and lettering that you wanted, there are some ‘go between’ dealers that will be able to broker a dealer for you to buy the number plate. This option is significantly more expensive than buying a new personalised number plate, and so you should consider choosing a slight variation rather than taking this route.

Ensuring that your private number plate is legal

Whilst it may be tempting to use an auction website or messaging board to put out an ‘item sought’ post you need to take care that you’re actually buying a bone fide number plate. As mentioned, every legal private number plate will come with a V750, and so ensuring that the owner selling the nameplate has this if you’re not to find yourself having paid for an illegal and unregistered number plate.

Renewing your ownership of the number plate

Every year you must renew your certificate of ownership to ensure that the personalised number plate isn’t registered by someone else; owning a personalised number plate costs £25 per year, and you can pay up front for up to three years in a row.

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