Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a Private Number Plate


A private registration plate is one of the best ways to set your car apart from the rest. A private plate can be personalised with your name, nickname, or even the make or model of your car. It can be designed to make it obvious that the car is yours, or you can have something subtler, that only you and your family or friends will understand – the choice is all yours!

There are many different reasons why people decide to buy private plates, be it for themselves or as a gift to a loved one. But one of the hidden perks of getting a private number plate is that hiding its age could make it less attractive to would-be thieves in many cases. There’s no denying that a private number plate is one of the biggest status symbols on the road, too. Paired with a flashy car, you’re sure to be the envy of plenty of other drivers.

So, how do you go about buying and selling private number plates? Whether you’re looking to put a private plate on your car for the first time or have an old plate that you want to sell back, read on for our definitive guide.

#1. Choosing a Plate:

When buying a private number plate for your car, the first step is choosing one that you like. The quickest way to do this is by looking online, but there are several other means of finding a suitable registration, including advertisements from dealers in local papers, or contacting them directly over the telephone. In general, an online search is the easiest option since you’ll be able to enter details for the plate that you want and search all the various options. Even if the exact plate that you’re hoping for is taken, you’ll be able to see all the similar options and hopefully find one which you like.

#2. How to Pay:

In general, there are two ways in which you can pay for a private number plate – in total, or via finance from several dealers. This will of course depend on your own financial situation, and the cost of the plate that you’re looking at. In general, buying outright is a better option since you’ll save money on interest rates that are inevitable when paying for a private number plate on a monthly basis. However, it’s always important to beware of any hidden costs, too – most private number plates are subject to VAT, and this may not be advertised by the dealer straight away. You’ll also have to factor in the DVLA fee, which is typically around £80 or £105, depending on the individual circumstances. Never assume that the price you see quoted on a dealer’s website is the total price that you’ll pay.

#3. Buying from a Private Seller:

Another option that you may want to consider when getting your private number plate is buying from a private seller. However, although this may be a cheaper option, it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s often riskier. So, make sure that you’ve done your research before parting with your money. The biggest risk when buying from a private seller is that unlike dealerships, private sellers are not overseen by any governing body who will ensure that the seller sends your product or refunds your money if they cannot. To protect yourself, it’s a good idea to insist that the seller provides you with the private plate after receiving a deposit or meet in person to transfer the ownership of the plate to you.

#4. Choosing the Right Plate:

Before purchasing a private registration plate, it’s a good idea to ensure that you’ll be able to use it on your car. There are certain rules and regulations surrounding private number plates that it’s essential to be aware of them before you begin your search. Otherwise, you could end up finding a plate that’s perfect, only to realise that you won’t actually be able to register it to your vehicle with the DVLA. The main thing to be aware of is your car’s year of registration; you won’t be able to use a private number plate that makes your car appear newer than it is. For example, if your car’s original number plate is 2010, your private plate will need to be 2010 or older if you’re using that format. However, this rule doesn’t apply to private plates with a dateless format. Always double check with the dealer or DVLA if you are unsure. If you are stuck for ideas on what to choose, there are plenty of resources available that can help you, such as the Valuation Guide book available from British Car Registrations.

#5. Registering the Plate:

Once you’ve found the number plate that you want and have bought it from the dealer or private seller, it’s time to ensure that it’s registered to your car, so that you can change your plates and start using it straight away. Be aware that it’s a criminal offence to display number plates on your car if they are not registered to that vehicle. To do this, you’ll need to get in touch with the DVLA and pay a fee to change the plates on your car. This will ensure that your details match up for insurance purposes, and avoid you getting pulled up by the police when you’re on the road.

#6. Selling Your Number Plate:

Whether you’re hoping to replace your existing private number plate with a new one, or are considering selling it now or in the future for any other reason, selling it through a dealer such as British Car Registrations is your best option. First of all, they will have your number plate valued – your dealer will be able to do this for you. British Car Registrations have a free valuation calculator online to give you a rough idea of how much you can get for your plate. If you’re serious about selling, it’s essential to get a private valuation from a trusted number plate dealer like this one. Once you’ve obtained this, you can go ahead and sell your number plate through the dealer. They will advertise the plate for you. Although you’ll likely need to pay them some commission, it’s more likely that you’ll get a sale since drivers tend to trust dealers more. You’ll typically need to provide the dealer with your current MOT and V5C documents, along with proving that your tax is up to date.

#7. What to Avoid:

Lastly, it’s a good idea to be aware of what to avoid when buying or selling a private number plate. As mentioned earlier, it’s not a wise idea to buy a registration plate privately unless you plan to purchase it from a trusted relative or friend. You should also avoid buying a plate which displays a registration year which makes your car appear newer as it’s unlikely that you will be allowed to use it. Lastly, ensure that you’re aware of any hidden fees, added VAT, and DVLA fees before you commit to buy.

A private number plate can be a great addition to any car, making older cars look a little bit more luxurious. But, it’s important to be aware of all the steps that you’ll need to take before buying a number plate that’s personal to you.

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