Things To Watch Out For With Private Plates

Buying a private number plate is an exciting time. So much so, many people will rush into the purchase without fully knowing what to steer clear of and watch out for when purchasing (or selling) a private plate.

In order to make your experience as easy and simple as possible, we've compiled this handy guide to buying and selling your private plates.

Things to Avoid When Buying a Private Plate

Personalised number plates are growing more popular among vehicle owners, but the specific formats you must adhere to, DVLA standards, and information required for purchasing and transferring a number plate may be confusing.

Finding private plates that work for you can be difficult enough without having to worry about whether you're meeting specific regulations and if your plate is actually legal. If you're thinking about buying your own private plates, there are a few things you should avoid to save you time - and money!

1. Don't try to change the age of your car

It may be tempting to use a private number plate to make your vehicle appear newer than it is, but this is typically not permitted. You won't be allowed to use a plate with a newer registration date than the original unless you buy a dateless number plate to disguise your car's age.

If your car's original registration number is RW57 NFE, for example, you'll be limited to using the prefixes "57," "07," or higher in your private reg plate. If you decide to use the number "16", you will be going against regulations.

2. Don't forget about the extra fees

If you do not buy from a DVLA registered number plate supplier (RNPS), you may be caught out by extra fees you weren't aware of. Vehicles that alter or transfer their registration, as well as persons who keep their registrations on certificates, are charged "transfer charges" by the DVLA. There are two specific charges:

  • Purchasing a Certificate of Entitlement or putting a vehicle on retention - You can apply for a retention certificate if you want to remove a vehicle's private plate and keep it for later use (V778) and will cost £80. To do so, you can apply online or by mail, and your car must satisfy certain requirements. You will then obtain a certificate stating that you have the authority to assign the registration to a vehicle. This will last for 10 years.
  • From one vehicle to another - A charge of £80 is required to transfer private registration from one vehicle to another. This cost, together with the relevant vehicle documentation (typically the V5C) and any DVLA paperwork needed (usually the V317), is sent to the DVLA (online or by mail).

3. Don't use the plate before it's assigned

It's against the law to drive around with a private number plate that hasn't been allocated to your car yet. As tempting as it may be to switch the plates as quickly as possible and show off your new plate, if you are pulled over by the police while displaying a registration number not yet registered to your vehicle, you might face significant consequences.

Before you change your car's registration plates, make sure you've paid the DVLA charge, filled out the proper paperwork, and received formal confirmation of the assignment. You should always receive a V750 certificate of entitlement once you have acquired the private plate to confirm that you have the right to use it.

4. Don't forget to inform your insurance provider

After you've applied your new private registration to your vehicle, you'll need to notify your insurance company about the change so that you're still covered in the event of a claim and, more importantly, you are insured to drive.

We recommend doing this before switching over your new private reg plates on your vehicle to avoid any issues if you ever need to make a claim.

Rules for UK Private Number Plates

There are some rules and guidelines to keep in mind when you buy a private plate and maintain it once you have your private number plate. These include:

  • The only optional ornamentation allowed are EU or national GB/England/Scotland/Wales symbols and must be placed on the left of the plate.
  • Plates must be readable and free of dirt
  • Number plates must be made in accordance with British Standard Specification
  • At night, number plates must be adequately lit
  • Size, colour, font, and spacing must all comply with Department of Transportation guidelines

Not only this, but you also need to check your actual car. There are additional rules surrounding the vehicle:

  • Being taxed or have a SORN
  • Having an MOT/GVT (Goods Vehicle Test)
  • Being an appropriate age
  • Being in the United Kingdom, registered or about to be registered

Failure to follow these specifications will result in hefty fines and, in some circumstances, points on your license.

What to Watch out for When Selling a Private Plate

Just like buying your private registration plate, there are some things to watch out for if you're looking to sell your personalised reg. We're sure you want the new owner to have as smooth a transition as possible when using their new plates, as well as making sure you're getting the best deal for yourself.

Here are some steps to follow and tips for when you're selling your private number plate:

1. Make sure you're legally allowed to sell them

To lawfully sell a number plate, there are a few requirements. Double-check that your paperwork does not include the word "non-transferable". If it does, unfortunately, you cannot sell your number plate.

However, if your documents don't say this, then you next need to make sure you meet the following criteria:

  • Is the car registered in your name (first and surname)?
  • Do you have a Certificate of Retention (V778) or a Certificate of Entitlement (V750) that shows you are the official purchaser?

2. Know how much you want for it

Before you sell your number plate, you should have a clear price in mind. It should include a range, too, meaning you'll know exactly what the lowest price you're prepared to let it sell for.

The reselling price will usually be determined by how much you bought for it and how long you've had it, as valuable private plates tend to appreciate in value over time.

The key to selling your private reg plate in a timely manner is to set a fair price and avoid overvaluing it. To find out how much you could sell your number plate for, use our value checker.

3. Choose a trustworthy selling platform

Next, you need to decide which platform you're going to sell it on. You have several options available to you, such as advertising on social media sites, taking out an advert in a newspaper or relying on word of mouth.

To make the process of selling your private number plate as easy and stress-free as can be, you can advertise them on a private plates database where potential buyers can search through and make an offer.