How the personalised number plate industry has changed
Last updated: 27 June 2022
The private plate market has been around for many decades, however not in its current form. In the beginning there were limited registration styles available with only dateless, prefix and suffix plates to choose from, this gave little choice to consumers and did not cater much for longer names and/or surnames when personalising a number plate for your vehicles.
During the late 90's early 2000's the newstyle registrations were introduced which allows for more combinations that before, over the next few years this along with other important changes helped the industry to grow.
Much of the DVLA paperwork and infrastructure was time consuming and tedious in regards to private plates for many years, here are some of the recent changes in the last few years that have made it easier to both buy and hold a private registrations for both dealers and consumers.
Retention periods changed to 10 years
In the past retention certificates (which allow you to hold a registration on a certificate, instead of a road worthy vehicle) only lasted 12 months, each year they had to be renewed by filling in the paper form and sending it in the post with a small fee. The scary part was that if you failed to renew them in time you could have lost the rights to the registration that you had previously purchased, this left alot of risk in terms of lost paperwork or simply forgetting to renew caught out many customers due to the short renewal period.
Since 2015 this rule was changed so that now retention certificates are valid for 10 years, they still must be renewed, however this extension of time gives customers more time to sort out their affairs and risk of losing a retained registration number due to error has been greatly reduced, this much needed change was well received by all parties including dealers and customers.
DVLA transfers can now be done online
In the early days of registration transfers customers who were looking to either transfer or retain a registration needed to send documents including transfer forms and logbooks to the DVLA by post, often causing delays of 4-6 weeks for transfers and certificates to be sent back due to the postal times and administration work required.
In recent years DVLA has a new online system whereby customers can both apply registrations to vehicles and retain them online, although this is not true for all registrations, ones held on retention certificate can in most cases be applied to a vehicle instantly online.
The DVLA will then send the relevant documents such as new logbook etc to the registered keeper as part of the process, but the plates for the vehicle are able to be switched over as soon as the online transfer is complete, this saves alot of time and inconvenience for customers having to wait for post and cuts wait time for majority of personalised plate transfers.
Is it key to note however that some parts of the process still require sending of documents in the post, such as transfers that need documents from two or more parties for vehicle to vehicle transfers or if your vehicle needs a voluntary mot (applicable to come classic cars), but overall the online system has benefited the whole industry and the turn-around times for customers.
Northern Ireland number plates for UK vehicles
In 2014 the rules were changed in regards to Northern Irish number plates so that that could also be applied to UK registered vehicles (this was previously not allowed for many decades). Northern Ireland registrations have their own format, 1, 2, 3 or 4 numbers, paired with a block of letters that always contain an I or Z. This different numbering system meant that more combinations were available for UK buyers, however with limited amounts of letters/numbers these tend to be offered as cheaper bargain plates with most dealers today.
The two unique things about Irish number plates being made available for the UK personalised plate market were addition I so names such as BIL or WIL could be matches for potential buyers, in addition to this the fact that Northern Ireland plates are also classed as dateless (meaning that they can be applied to any age of vehicle from classic cars to newly registered vehicles).
Looking to the future
Data now used for valuations
Valuations in the number plate industry were previously driven primarily by simple supply and demand as with many sought after goods. However in recent years with more data being made available from the DVLA, private dealers and the internet we are now able to use this data to not only confirm how many of a particular registration number or combination of letters/numbers is available to be purchased, but we can also identify search trends on how many times a particular name or combination of letters is searched, therefore gauging the potential demand for the registration number.
In future this could lead to more dynamic pricing in the industry or suggestions for customers to increase or decrease prices of registrations depending on the demand and or searches being performed by internet users. Customers who wish to obtain a valuation for their registration can do so with our number plate valuation service.
Looking to future vehicle models for purchases
Another trend that customers may want to look for is the production and announcements of upcoming vehicles by manufacturers as a certain percentage of the private plate market targets particular brands or models of vehicles for example BMW, AMG, EVO, GTR etc
If you can identify a future popular make/model of new car, this can give customers an edge enabling them to acquire a rare number plate that may already be in the market and could potentially be undervalued prior to a new vehicles release.
The private registration market is constantly evolving with new ways to both find, buy and transfer private numbers, advances in technology and transparency only seems to make life easier for both dealers and customers alike, and we foresee this trend continuing into the future for the personalised registration plate industry as a whole.