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Private Reg - Not Born In The USA

February, 23 2006

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There's a really good book available for anyone who's interested in number plates, the in's and outs of buying one, and plenty of stories about (famous) people who've bought them. Fanatical About Number Plates is available direct from Amazon.

Many people phone or contact us asking for private reg that simply aren't possible to make. As outlined in a previous post there are certain formats that private reg need to follow, not least of which is the inclusion of a number (you wouldn't believe how many people believe it possible to get just "BARRY" or "STEVE" on their number plates - they're called NUMBER plates for a reason, m'kay?). If you can follow these rules and still make up your ideal reg, that's great. But just because you've watched an episode of Knight Rider and seen that Michael Knight has KITT on his Pontiac Trans-Am doesn't mean you can.

The US has a vastly different system of registration to that of the UK. Private reg probably aren't as big a thing as they are here in the UK. The main reason is that you can (in most states - and availability permitting) simply pick your reg (normally 2 to 6 characters in length) and it doesn't have to contain numbers - it just needs to be unique. In fairness the Yanks don't call them number plates - instead opting for license plate, so we'll let them off with that. Assuming your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) allows the reg you can pick it up for a minimum fee (and I believe there's a yearly renewal). The plate itself has to show the state of origin, however, and some other little bits of info. But KITT would be a perfectly valid reg - if nobody else was already driving around with it on their vehicle.

Because of the total openness of the system, anyone can pick up a private reg. And because of that, they're just not as sought after. Whereas here in the UK where all reg need to follow rigid formats, picking a private reg can make you stand out from the crowd.

Amazingly enough in the US, collecting the actual plates themselves is a popular pasttime. If you recall the classic black and silver reg of the UK of yesteryear, then the US plates are similar. Stamped out of metal, the allowed logos, decorations and stories they tell of the states they're issued in make them collectables. Bit more interesting than our yellow and white acrylic ones no doubt.

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