As more and more motorists develop a deep personal and emotional attachment to their car or motorcycle, the desire to buy a private or personalised number plate has never so popular.
There are many reasons why people buy a private plate for their vehicle. Whether it is a status symbol, a fashion statement or simply the fact they just do not like the original registration plate on their pride and joy.
What is the cost of a private number plate?
You can't really mention a private number plate without talking about money. Buying a private registration plate could also be an investment. The truth is that the cost of a private number plate can be anything from a hundred pounds upwards. At a recent DVLA Auction, registration plate IG 1 sold for an impressive £222,000 (plus buyers premium and VAT). It is the third most expensive UK number plate after 25 0 and 1 D sold for £400,000 in 2014 and £285,000 in 2009 respectively.
How much does a private number plate cost?
So what was so special about registration plate IG 1? It was obviously special to buyer Ian Guest who successfully won the bid on this plate. It was also the last of the two letters and a single number registration plate on the DVLA books.
But private number plates don't have to cost a king's ransom, and it honestly depends on several factors. Where is the private number plate coming from? Whom 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.
A private number plate of high demand and low supply is going to increase in value over time, where as if there are 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 – and yes, they are legal on vehicles registered on UK mainland. There are a copious number of these around and many letter combinations are very cheap, some for as little as £65 plus transfer fees and VAT, for example.
These distinctive "cover plates" can be transferred to any age of vehicle. Prices shown include VAT and government transfer fees.
Why so cheap, you ask? A lot of these 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 of these on the private number plate market.
At the other end of the scale, 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 R2 YAN, which would clearly be well suited to anyone with the matching name; and being such a great match, with few alternatives coming close to being as good, that's reflected in the price.
But, how much does it cost to OWN a private number plate?
So far, the focus has been 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.
DVLA Transfer Costs
The DVLA charge "transfer costs" for vehicles to change or transfer their registration and for people to retain registrations on certificates. This is an added cost to take into consideration when you are buying a private number plate.
- For Vehicle to Vehicle:
To simply transfer a private registration from one vehicle to another a fee of £80 is required. This transfer fee is submitted to the DVLA (online or by post) along with the appropriate vehicle documents (usually the V5C) as well as any DVLA paperwork that is requested - usually the V317.
Both vehicles involved must meet the correct standards to be involved in the process - this includes being taxed and having an up to date MOT.
The £80 fee covers:
The new number plate cost for the "donor" vehicle (the vehicle that is "giving" away its registration). The DVLA will issue this vehicle with a standard age-related plate to take the private plates place - often the first number it was registered under.
The private number plate cost for the recipient vehicle which will be registered under the transferred registration (updating of all associated tax and MOT records).
It is traditional in a private number plate sale, for the buyer of the private number plate to pay the DVLA transfer costs. Most transfers are organised through number plate dealers. They will collect, check and submit all the paperwork for customers and act as an important safeguard by only paying the seller after DVLA has passed the transfer.
Number plate dealers are regulated through a number of trade organisations:
RMI - Retail Motor Industry Federation
CNDA - Cherished Numbers Dealers Association
MIRAD - Cherished Numbers Guild and institute of Registration Agents & Dealers
Check that the dealership you are using has been validated through one of these regulating authorities.
Don't forget, there will also be the cost of manufactured registration plates for both vehicles.
- For Vehicle to Retention, or purchasing a Certificate of Entitlement
If you want to take a registration off a vehicle and keep it for later, then you can apply for a retention certificate (V778). You can apply online or by post and the vehicle must meet a number of eligibility criteria. The cost is £80, and you will receive a certificate that states that you have the right to assign the registration to a vehicle for the next 10 years. If you don't assign it to a vehicle within that 10 year period, you can renew the certificate. You'll get a reminder letter or email if you're not using the private number and your right to use it is about to run out.
A renewal extends the certificate for a further 10 years.