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What is the cost of a private number plate?

January, 21 2014

Customers Editorial Interesting

To most people a private number plate might conjure up a few images. Some may think of it as a status symbol, others as a bit of showbiz jazz. To some it reminds them of the celebrity lifestyle while others think of it as a fashion statement. No matter what though, you can’t really mention a private number plate without talking about the money.

Some of the most powerful people in the country drive around with a private number plate on their vehicle, so it is natural that they come with this stigma of being really expensive. Truth is the cost of a private number plate can go anything from a hundred pounds upwards. Of course, ‘upwards’ is as high as several million, so the stigma is mostly justified!

How much does a private number plate cost?

A private number plate doesn’t have to cost you your first-born though, and it honestly depends on several factors. Where is the private number plate coming from? WHO is it coming from? How long has it been on the market? How much interest has it had? Is there another private number plate like it? You’ve got to consider all of these when you go looking for one. Essentially, it is the same principle of any “supply and demand” system.

Private number plate, F 1
Private number plate, F 1, is amongst the most valuable around

A private number plate of high demand and low supply is going to increase in value over time, where as if there is a lot of similar number plates around you would be able to pick one up for a lot less. The best example of this would be a private number plate from Northern Ireland. There is an absolute tonne of these around and the most common of them are very cheap. I’ve seen some for as little as £99, for example.

Why so cheap, you ask? A lot of these common Northern Irish plates are “cover plates” – these are number plates that are issued by the Government and cost the owner literally nothing. When someone sells their current reg mark as a private number plate they receive a brand new yet similar one in return. Rinse and repeat. This is why there are hundreds on the private number plate market.

In stark contrast, a private number plate in short supply will cost more. A variety of number plates, known as “cherished”, are practically antiques due how old they are, and their prices reflect this. Others are so costly simply because to many it is a dream private number plate. An example of the latter would be something like BA12 RYS, which clearly reads BARRY’S and with very few like this available it is probably the best number for someone called ‘Barry’, which can be seen in the price.

But, how much does it cost to OWN a private number plate?

So far I’ve been focused on how much a private number plate costs to buy, but there is another question that not many people know the answer to: how much does it cost to actually own a private number plate? Surprisingly, the answer is: Not much.

A private number plate is not really its own thing – it is a façade. When it is registered to a vehicle it belongs to that vehicle, not the person who bought it, as some understand. This means there are no annual fees to pay as long as the private number plate is on the vehicle. Of course, if a tax or MOT is needed that has to be paid for, but the number plate itself has no fees.

Costs will be incurred by taking a number plate off a vehicle though. When not registered to a vehicle a private number plate is held on a retention certificate, which costs £105 to do. Certificates though have a time limit though, and to extend this expiry you do need to pay an annual fee. This is usually £25 per year, plus an admin fee if a third party supplied the private number plate to you.

As you can see, the cost of upkeep is quite reasonable and not much at all. In fact, the cost of keeping a private number plate is nothing if you use as intended: straight onto a vehicle. But even if not the costs are the same across the board and apply to everyone, so even if you pay out for a really good number plate the expense is not going to come back to bite you later on. At least, not as far as the private number plate is concerned – we cannot promise your partner won’t bite you!


By . Daniel is a journalist and marketing executive who has been with National Numbers since 2012. As well as movies, Daniel's other passion is private number plates. In between writing about them and raising awareness of the issues surrounding the industry he can be found on the phone lines along with the dedicated National Numbers sales team helping customers find their perfect number plate.

Please quote 'DT' when you phone