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Private Number Plates – All You Will Ever Need to Know About

Have you ever fancied getting yourself a set of custom or private number plates, but not really been sure about how much they cost, what types of plates are available (or legal) in the UK and how you would go about having them registered to your vehicle? Are you also unclear about what would happen if you sold your vehicle, or don’t have a vehicle at present onto which you can transfer the personal number plates to? What about if you sell a vehicle; can you transfer the plates over to a different vehicle and if so, how? In this article we’ll demystify the misconceptions and confusion surrounding personal number plates as well as correcting a few assumptions that people make about this sensible, affordable and often highly personalised means of self-expression.

1. The Basics – How do Private Number Plates Work?

Private plates work by combining letters and numbers in a way that the pattern becomes meaningful to the owner, and perhaps recognisable to others (though this is not always the case). For example, ex-Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo famously had CR 7 (His initials and squad number) as his personal plate when playing for Manchester United.

Other times plates are made up of letters and numbers to form words. A good example of this may be someone with the name Bosworth having the nickname “Bozzy”. They may look for a plate something like B 0 ZZY, where the ‘zero’ forms the ‘O’ to create a word. Numbers are often substituted for similar looking letters to create words, as in J 4 MES (for JAMES),  70 HN for JOHN or J 4 NET for JANET. However it is not just names that people create with personalised plates. It can be initials and a date of birth (such as 1964 GL). Other companies use private plates as an effective form of advertising. For example Theo Paphitis, who has famously worked with Ryman Stationers and La Senza Lingerie in the past, has bought the private number plates RYM 4N and LA 53 NZA. There are countless good reasons to purchase a private number plate and the only limit on what you can buy is your creativity. If you can make a legal number plate using the letters and numbers approved in the British roads, then you should be able to create a number plate that is ideal for you at a cost you can afford.

2. The Rumours – Are Private Number Plates very expensive?

Private Number Plates

While it is certainly true that some highly desired and exclusive plates can be very expensive (indeed, car expert Quentin Wilson said that a sought after personal registration is “better than money in the bank), there is still an expansive market of plates available that are easily affordable starting at just a couple of hundred pounds.

This is where a site like is so valuable. Not only will our expert team be able to help you find the plates that would suit you (including some that you may have not even previously thought of), but we’ll endeavour to ensure that the plates we find are within your budget. Certainly not all private reg’s are expensive and you are best thinking of the market as being very much like the car market. For sure, the Bugatti Veyron’s and Lamborghini Gallardo’s of this world come with a hefty price tag, but there are a great deal more cars available much cheaper. The same is true for number plates, the highly sought after and exclusive plates can fetch hundreds of thousands, but there are many, many more available for just a few hundred pounds.

3. The Process – How easy is it to transfer Private Plates to my vehicle?

Many people assume that any task involving the DVLA is going to be long-winded and expensive but in actual fact, transferring your car number plate to your new private number plates is actually a very simple and relatively quick process.

Once you have found your registration and purchased it, you will receive one of two certificates. Either form C750 a “Certificate of Entitlement” or a Form V778 a “Certificate of Retention”. Either of these documents indicates that you are the new owner of the personal number plates in question. To transfer the plates onto your car, you send either of the forms mentioned above, plus the registration certificate of the vehicle you are transferring the plates onto (Form V5C) and if the vehicle you are transferring the private number plates onto is over 3 years old, then you need to send off your valid MOT certificate too. That’s all there is to it. If the DVLA want to inspect your vehicle for any reason, then they will contact you but usually your application will be processed within a fortnight and the DVLA will send you all the relevant documentation you need to complete the transfer. Once you’ve receive that, then the process is complete and you can now install your new plates on the vehicle legally.

4. No Car – Can I still buy a private reg if I don’t have a car to transfer them to?

What happens if you have a car on order, or you have not yet bought a car, but have seen the ideal personal number plates for you? Can you buy them if you don’t have a vehicle to transfer them onto?

Yes you can, you can extend your Certificate of Entitlement if it is not transferred onto a vehicle for up to three years at a time for just £25 per year. This means that even if you do not transfer the private number plates onto a vehicle, you can still rightfully maintain ownership of them over this period. There are many people who are viewing personalised number plates as an investment for whom this is an attractive option, especially with the value of other investments so uncertain in the current global financial climate.

5. Transferring your Plate – How do I transfer my personalised plates from one vehicle to another?

If you buy a new car and want to keep the same private number plates you have on your current vehicle then transferring them is a simple and painless process.

Simply complete form V317 from the DVLA which will begin the process. Both registered keepers of the car (you and the previous owner) must complete parts of the application. When completed simply send the form together with an £80 fee to cover the cost of the transfer to the DVLA. You will need to enclose the registration certificate that shows the vehicle is now rightfully yours and if the vehicle is over 3 years old, then you will also need to send a valid MOT certificate. Remember, once you have purchased your plates, you can transfer them between vehicles as often as you like following the process described above. Personalised number plates are a great way to give your vehicle a truly unique feel, they can emphasize any aspect of your personality, life, work or interests and represent a simple and effective way to make your new vehicle truly your own.