Tips For Finding Private Plates

Many car owners will dream of finding the perfect private plate, either for themselves or as the perfect gift. Custom-made number plates are a way to make a car uniquely yours, and they're now easier to find than ever thanks to our innovative search methods, helpful advice and lower prices.

Here are a few ideas and tips that should help car owners find a personalised number plate that suits their requirements.

Where you can buy private plates from

You have different options when it comes to where you buy your private plates from. Each comes with its own pros and cons so it is important to fully research your chosen method before committing to it.

Buying a private plate online:

  • Click4Reg - Our website offers a wide variety of DVLA-approved plates, and are proud of our 5-star reviews and accreditations, as well as our great customer service. Click4Reg will offer you all the paperwork and DVLA documents to ensure a smooth process when purchasing your new, personalised number plate.
  • DVLA - On their website, the DVLA offers a wide range of registration plates, so it's a fantastic place to start looking for your ideal plate. However, they do not sell all available number plates, therefore it's a good idea to check out other legitimate number plate websites before making a purchase.
  • eBay - Whilst this website is full of different private plate options, anyone with an eBay account can sell or buy products on this website. As a result, many people might offer you number plates that are illegal and inappropriate for your vehicle. Some licenced eBay sellers have the DVLA's approval to sell registration plates, but it can be difficult to tell who can be trusted.

Number plate auctions:

  • DVLA Auctions - Each year, the DVLA will hold back some registration plates to sell off in an auction. If you are unable to attend the auction in person, you're able to bid online or over the phone; however, you must register in advance.
  • Brightwells - Brightwells will occasionally hold auctions for cherished number plates. Keep in mind that these will often be more expensive than other types as they are more sought after.

What to consider when purchasing private plates

The longevity of the plate

You probably want a number plate that you will love as much in a decade as you do now. That's why experts discourage going for trendy private plates that will eventually go out of fashion.

Your name or initials are always good avenues to explore, but if you want something a little different, then you can look into personalised plates that centre around a hobby you particularly enjoy or a lifelong passion.

How creative it is

When a car owner is trying to mix symbols, numbers, and letters to acquire their perfect plate while still adhering to the laws, some creativity is required. Experts recommend that anyone who wants to be creative with their personalised number plate takes the time to consider all the available options.

Consult with relatives, coworkers, and friends for feedback and support on your personalised number plate concepts. After all, a number plate is something you'll have for years, if not decades, so give it some thought.

Whether your vehicle is eligible

The last thing you want is to find out that your car is ineligible for private registrations after you've already purchased one. To be able to assign a private plate, the vehicle must:

  • Be registered with the DVLA in the UK
  • Be able to move under its own power
  • Be of a type that requires an MOT or heavy goods vehicle (HGV) test certificate
  • Have been taxed or had a SORN in place for the previous five years
  • Be taxed currently (or have a SORN in place - if it's had a SORN for more than five years, it must be taxed)

There are also some other pieces of criteria you should take into account. According to the DVLA, you can't:

  • Assign a number that starts with the letters "Q" or "NIQ" or put a private number on a 'Q' registered vehicle
  • Use a private number that makes a car appear newer than it is - for example, an '09'' registration number on a 2005 registered vehicle

Rare and expensive numbers

When searching for private registrations in the first instance, many customers will often search for their forename hoping to acquire a unique version of their full name or shortened name, for example:

  • JAMES (J4 MES)
  • BEN (B3 NNN)
  • SAMMY (S4 MMY)

However, many customers soon realise that these registrations often also come with a hefty price tag due to the scarcity and uniqueness of private number plates. These are usually limited to only 1 or 2 versions of the particular first nameplates.

For example, the private registration J4 MES would only have a limited number of similar plates, such as J14 MES or JAM 3S, which may or may not be available in the market at any given time.

These unique first name plates can often be very sought after and rare and can come with price tags in the many tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands.

There are, however, other ways to find a unique private plate that is personal to you without the hefty price tag.

Three letter names have the most choice

Customers with short three-letter names will often have the most success within the private plate industry because most numbers are formatted and include three letters in a row. For example, S1 TOM or BEN 1S also have an endless supply of these numbers due to new numbers being released each year in the new style format, for example, XX21 KEV XX22 DAN, etc.

Alternative options for personalised numbers

After the initial disappointment of not being able to find the plate to match your first name exactly, other search techniques can often bring a whole range of search results that customers often miss when searching for their perfect plate.

First and last name abbreviations can include plates such as:

  • T SMITH (TS11 MTH)
  • T JONES (T70 NES)

Number/Letter replacement or additional letters

This can often be a trade-off that still matches a name, but adding additional letters can often reduce the overall cost you will pay. These examples include:

  • LIZZY (LY11 ZZY)
  • BEN or BENNY (B33 NNY)
  • RYAN (RY11 ANN)
  • BRIAN (BR17 ANN)
  • HELEN (HE11 ENN)
  • SIMON (S17 MON or SY11 MON)

Initial plates

These are often the cheapest option for customers looking to acquire a private registration with a large price tag. Depending on rarity and availability, these usually range from £250 to £1500 and can work well with the addition of kisses (XX) or titles such as (BO55) or (MR MR15).

Some examples include:


Sought after initial private plates & dateless numbers

Although initial plates offer the best range for those looking to obtain a cheaper plate, these registrations can also be some of the most sought after. For example:

  • 1 TJS
  • 2 BMT
  • 3 SFT
  • 4 ALW

The best advice for those looking for more selection and cheaper plate options would be to stick with PREFIX or NEW STYLE registrations in this respect.

Nicknames & short names

Many longer names can be shortened, and letters changed to bring more search results. This depends on the individual, and if they are willing to have a shorter name or nickname style registration, this can often give more choice when searching and would come down to preference.

For example:

  • REBECCA (B3 CCA, RE11 BCA or BEX 1A)
  • MICHAEL (MY11 KEX, M1 KKE or M1 CHL)
  • JOSHUA (JO11 SHX or J10 SHH or JO15 HUA)
  • JAMES (J1 MMM or JY11 MMY)
  • AMANDA (M4 NDY or MA11 NDY)

Our detailed search will often suggest many of these options when searching for your perfect private number plate. However, thinking outside the box and changing or adding additional letters can help you find the hidden gems and save money for those on a budget. Try out our number plate search for yourself and try some of these tips.

Finding a private plate with Click4Reg

1) Set a budget

When it comes to pricing, understanding how much you can afford and what you want to spend is very important. This knowledge will allow you to stay within budget and narrow down your search even further.

Bear in mind that DVLA personalised number plates that are in higher demand and more exclusive will probably cost you more than those in low demand - more popular plates will most likely be more expensive.

We specialise in affordable plates, mainly from £200 to £2000, so you can be sure we'll have the perfect private plate for you whatever your budget is.

2) Use our smart homepage to find what you're looking for

Our private plate search lets you type any combination of letters and numbers into the search bar and then provides you with all of the options we have.

For example, if you were looking for plates that included the name 'Amy', you may see results such as M29 AMY or even ones including 4MY, so you can be sure there will be a lot to choose from.

You can then sort the search results by best match, low price to high and high to low, depending on your requirements.

3) Narrow your search to different styles

You can then narrow down your search to different number plate styles once you've decided what kind you want - choosing between new style and prefix formats.

If you're going to personalise your car's number plate, you'll want to be sure that you're going to love it for a long time. Therefore, it's important to take the time to choose the format and style.

4) Make an offer

Once you've found your perfect private plate, you can make an offer but submitting your details. You can even choose to pay the whole bill in one go or opt for monthly repayments on finance. After this, we'll be in touch to discuss the next steps, such as sorting out any necessary documentation and assigning your new private plate to your vehicle.