Finding a Private Number Plate Guide

Finding the perfect private plate for you or someone else can be tricky, thanks to a wealth of variations and combinations to choose from.

However, with car owners ever more conscious about their number plate and what it represents, finding the right one is an important task, and we do everything we can to make it seamless and straightforward for you.

We understand that you want your personalised number plate to represent you, so with a wide range of intelligent search and browsing tools and thousands of private plate combinations to choose from, you're bound to find just what you are looking for with Click4Reg.

To make it even easier, we have hand-crafted this detailed guide to help you find the perfect private registration for you, with support on how to use our search tools, information on what style of plate is most suitable, and top tips and inspiration to help you make the big decision.

1. How to Use Number Plate Search Tools to Find the Perfect Plate

How to use our smart search tools

Whether you are looking for quick and easy private plate inspiration or are looking for something a bit more specific, our smart search tools can help you find the perfect private plate for yourself or someone else.

Our smart search tools mean that you can eliminate the need to browse hundreds of private number plates for the right one, as you can search for a specific plate yourself or find similar options quickly.

Search all plate styles

Using our smart search tool, you can search for any combination of letters and numbers. Once you have searched for your desired name, word or combination, you will be presented with an extensive list of optimised variations for sale, many of which will either match or closely relate to your desired combination.

To make the decision even easier, all results will be displayed in the following categories:

To account for your budget and make your searching process smoother, we also offer three different ways to order search results:

  • By Best Results
  • By Price (Lowest)
  • By Price (Highest)

Search new style plates

Separately to our general search tool, we also have a 'Search New Style Plates' tool as part of our custom search. To customise your search, simply enter two letters, followed by a year and a further three letters.

Once you have inputted this information, you will be presented with a wide range of different plates that match your preferences or are similar to them. These alternatives are perfect for those that need a little extra help when choosing the best plate combination for them.

A few examples of new style plates include:

  • ST57 BEN
  • AH07 BEN
  • HD11 BEN

Search prefix plates

Similar to how you can search for custom new style plates, you can also search for custom prefix plates using a tool. For these, you simply need to input one letter, followed by between one to three numbers and three letters, into the search bar.

Once entered, you will be presented with a list of the available plates that match your search.

A few examples of prefix plates include:

  • P12 EFX
  • P4 YYY
  • A2 HLO

How to use our smart search tools

However, If you aren't sure where to start finding the perfect private plate for you, you may find our browse tools more useful, as they offer plenty of inspiration.

Browse all number plates

Perfect for those who don't know where to begin, simply browse all our available number plates. We organise each number plate alphabetically so that you can quickly find your initials or chosen letters.

You can also filter our plates into new style, prefix, suffix and dateless to find your desired style below:

Browse by car makes and models

You can also browse by car makes and models, which is ideal for buyers looking to include their vehicle brand or model on their private plate.

Simply click on your desired brand below, and you will be presented with a wide range of available options.

Browse names plates

Names and short names are a popular choice when it comes to finding the perfect plate. Luckily, you can browse guys and girls names to find the perfect private plate for your vehicle.

How to view more details about chosen plates

To find out more about the private number plates of your choosing, simply click on them. This will take you to a new page where you will find information regarding:

  • What vehicles the registration plate can be assigned to
  • Whether the private registration is eligible to be purchased with a monthly payment plan
  • How much the private plate will cost you
  • What the process for purchase will involve
  • Whether the plate is an unissued government stock registration

You will also be able to envisage what the personalised plate will look like on your vehicle with our handy Private Reg Preview feature. Simply click onto the number plate, scroll down and select your vehicle (or the closest option).

At the bottom of the page, you will also find a list of similar number plates to the one you have clicked onto as an additional source of inspiration.

Pricing options for plates

We understand that price will be an important part of your decision and that you want to know how much a number plate will set you back as soon as you find it. Therefore, we ensure that a price is displayed transparently and clearly on all search results pages, allowing you to make quick and easy comparisons between plates.

We also display the finance costs in our search results for even greater flexibility, meaning that you don't have to dig to find alternative ways to pay.

2. Brief history and types of private number plates

Different styles of UK plates

The Motor Car Act in 1903 introduced the UK number plate system, and it has adapted ever since. Today, there are various different styles of registration plates at our disposal. This guide will explain why there are so many different style variations and their purposes to help you find the perfect one for you.


Dateless style registrations were introduced as early as 1903, and they were initially conformed to the format of a one or two-letter combination, followed by a number between 1 and 9999. Later in 1932, the dateless style registrations were amended to include a three-letter combination, and these were able to be preceded by the number instead.

However, once traffic increased dramatically, there was a new need for a UK number plate system, whereby registration marks were issued and would relate to the area of the country where the vehicle was registered. These were issued by local DVLA offices and were assigned to newly registered motors.

The dateless number plates were then replaced with suffix style number plates.

  • Dateless style registrations do not reference the year that the vehicle was registered, meaning that a dateless plate can be re-assigned and transferred across vehicles, regardless of their age.
  • Dateless number plates tend to be the most sought after and can be more challenging to get your hands on than some other plates.
  • With dateless plates, you can have a completely personalised combination of letters and numbers, so long as they are available to be issued.


Since their introduction in 1963, suffix style registration plates have been issued to millions of vehicles. They were initially designed to rectify the fact that dateless combinations were slowly running out. With these plates, you can identify the age of a vehicle, as they attach a year identifying letter to the end of the plate registration, which is why they are called 'suffix' style plates.

Initially, these began with 'A' in 1963, with a subsequent letter issued every year that followed until 'Y' was reached - this happened in 1982. Once the suffix-style plates had been exhausted, the system evolved into prefix registrations instead.

Suffix number plates usually comprise three letters, followed by a one to three-digit number and then a letter identifying the relevant year.


The DVLA introduced Prefix-style registration marks in 1983 once the suffix-style number plates had been exhausted. Initially, these registrations were issued on an annual basis, between August and the end of July each year. However, when T-registrations were introduced, this changed to implement bi-annual release instead.

Unlike the suffix-style registration plates, prefix style registrations will use the age identifier as the first letter of the combination rather than the last. So, they take the format of having a letter indicating the year of registration, followed by up to three numbers, a space and a further three letters.

The three letters at the end of your prefix style registration can often be chosen to represent your initials, so you can make your plate personal.


Also commonly referred to as 'new style registrations, current-style registration plates were introduced in 2001. They are released twice a year, between March and the end of August, or September and the end of February.

These styles will be issued periodically until at least 2051, meaning that if you get one now, they will remain the most up to date style of plate for many years to come.

The current style registrations will still use a year identifier number; however, there will be two letters used prior to this identifier number and a further three letters after it - a pattern which you will likely see often on the roads today.


Within Northern Ireland, any registered vehicles are issued with a form of dateless registration, and this was first introduced back in 1903. This means that all Northern Ireland style number plates do not refer to the year that the vehicle was first registered in, making them suitable for vehicles of any age.

In comparison to dateless style registrations, they tend to be far easier to get your hands on and much cheaper as a result. You can always identify a Northern Irish registered vehicle by the presence of either an I or a Z and the fact that it follows the dateless style format.


The term "cherished number plates" is most commonly used to describe private plates that are quite old (often referred to as antiques) or plates that lack a year code, making them dateless.

Owners of vintage or veteran cars that desire to maintain a period-correct number on their older vehicles, and owners of extremely rare or expensive luxury cars, favour this type of number plate. This is because the registration number is an important component of the vehicle's character and personality - without it, the vehicle could lose both monetary and sentimental value.

New release private plates

About new release private plates

Twice a year, the DVLA will release a new sequence of registration marks for sale, and this is intentionally done ahead of the new car registration dates, which are on the 1st March and 1st of September.

When these are released, the public is invited to purchase these private plates roughly three months earlier. In the first month of issue, you can purchase the right to any DVLA number plate within the chronological sequence, so long as it has not already been reserved for auction or is offensive.

Even if you don't manage to get the first call on these, millions of equally unique and reasonably priced unique private plates will be released to the public. This means that you will still have the opportunity to get your hands on one of the latest private plates.

3. Tips and Ideas For Finding Your Personalised Plate

How to find a meaningful combination of letters for your registration

When deciding what combination of numbers and letters to have on your private plate, you should consider all of the different possibilities and ways to personalise it in line with your preference.

Which letters and numbers might you use? Will you need fillers? Do you like the way starters look at the beginning of a plate? What about combining your favourite things?

With our wide range of number plates on offer, there's no need to hold back on your creativity!


One way to create a unique combination for your registration plate is to utilise phonetics to make your private number plate read in a certain way.

Even if you struggle to get the letters you want to spell a certain word, name or phrase, you can always utilise numbers instead. For example:

  • 0 = O
  • 1 = I
  • 2 = Z
  • 3 = E
  • 4 = A
  • 5 = S
  • 6 = G

With enough creativity, you can use phonetics, letters and numbers to get your number plate to read and spell whatever you want it to, so long as it isn't offensive!


When finding the perfect private plate combination, you may find that you have more space than you need or need to separate text somehow. Fortunately, fillers are the best way to do this as they can enable you to keep the text you want and still match the criteria required for different styles of number plates.

Here are a few ways in which you can use fillers to achieve your dream number plate variation:

  • Use X's as kisses at the end
  • Use S's or Z's to make names or words plural instead
  • Repeat the same letters or numbers - this will not detract attention away from your main word or phrase.

If your perfect number plate isn't available, this is an excellent way to adapt and amend a similar one for the same effect.


Depending on what style of plate you have chosen, there are also lots of 'starters' you can add to a number plate to make it truly special.

For example, if you have a prefix-style plate, you may want to add M155 to your plate or K155. Likewise, if you have a current style plate, you may wish to add BO55 to the beginning or BE57.

Starters are a great tool to add a bit more personality to your plate.


If you are looking to go above and beyond to personalise your private plate (why not!), you may even want to consider combining a few things that represent you to make the perfect plate.

For example, you may want to consider combinations such as:

  • Your name and your job
  • Your name and your interest
  • Your name and your car make
  • Your name and a significant date
  • Your name and your dog
  • Your name and your favourite football team
  • Two names (if you share the car)

The possibilities are endless when you use our smart search tool to find the plate combination that represents you best!

Useful ideas for personalised plates

If you are still stuck for inspiration for your personalised plates, keep reading to discover some of the most popular choices for number plate personalisation in the UK, or read our top tips and tricks for finding the perfect plate.

Names & Nicknames

Regardless of how popular or rare your name is, our wide range of personalised number plates means there is something for everyone irrespective of age or gender.

When looking for the perfect plate combination, consider alternative versions of your name, particularly if it is fairly common. For example, try to use:

  • Abbreviations
  • Nicknames
  • Shortened versions
  • Your initials

Interests and hobbies

Want to use your plate to showcase your job? Well, you can do just that with a personalised custom plate. For example, if you are a DJ, you may want to opt for a plate that reads 'D33 JAY'. Likewise, you may opt for a plate that reads 'T34 CHR' if you are a teacher.

You can also do the same for your hobbies. For example, if you are an avid golfer, why not look for a plate that reads 'G011 FER'. Get creative and see what you can find!


Private number plates make for the perfect gift for a whole host of different occasions, from big birthdays to fathers day and even as a wedding gift. No matter what the occasion, our intelligent search tools can assist you in finding the ideal personalised plate.

To lend you a helping hand, we also have plenty of useful blogs to help you find and gift the perfect personalised plate:

Ages & Dates

Private plates are also a fantastic way to commemorate a specific date or age, and with both numbers and letters at your disposal, you are bound to find a personalised plate that's right for you.

Age and date plates are great for those big birthdays, but also if you want to commemorate a special date, like a birthday or a wedding day.

If it's important to you, then why not put it in there?

Car Makes & Models

If you are seeking the perfect private plate and want to show off the brand or make and model of your vehicle, you may want to consider purchasing a private number plate containing car makes and models.

Visit our car make and model registrations plates page to find your vehicle.