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Number Plate Investment


The following information should not be taken or construed as financial or specific investment advice.

If the enjoyment you get from owning and displaying a personalised number plate on your vehicle ever subsides, you may one day become curious about what you might get were you to sell it.
The good news is that, for most plates, you'll probably find you're able to return a profit on your purchase.

Follow this link for a FREE valuation on your registration.

This may get you thinking - is investing in number plates a good idea? The answer is a resounding 'yes'. Certain registrations have proven to be very sound investments, and a simple 'buy and hold' strategy can produce a significant return.

The demand for personalised registrations shows no signs of slowing down. The following chart shows how much money the DVLA have taken from the sale of cherished registrations going back to 2011. Every year has seen growth (even through tough recession years), and in the space of 10 years their portion of the market has more than tripled in value for them from around £85 million to over £300 million.

Personalised plates are as popular as ever, and they're bringing in a lot of money to the Government coffers.
Data supplied by

As any good investor would, you'll want to perform some due diligence before investing your cash. There are a number of questions most investors need to answer before putting their money into anything.

What are your reasons for investing?

If you've selected a registration that is truly ideal for yourself, you may never get a return on your money because you'll never want to part with it! National Numbers serve many customers who buy purely as investments - they may own a reg they display on their vehicle day to day which holds significant meaning to them, but their portfolio will mostly contain registrations they have no sentimental attachment to. That makes it far easier to part with when the time comes to sell.

Are you willing to own the registration for 10, 15, or 25+ years?

Very few registrations will result in an immediate turnaround profit. Sitting on the registration for some time, as you may with other investments, will generally see it's worth increase. Number plates have a well established history covering over 120 years so the industry isn't going to suddenly vanish overnight. Patience is key.

Are there any charges?

Registration marks can exist on vehicles or on certificates. Currently the DVLA charge a fee to transfer a registration to/from a vehicle/certificate, and a fee to renew a certificate. When a registration is assigned to a vehicle there are currently no renewal charges to pay.
You don't need to put a registration onto a vehicle - it can remain on a certificate indefinitely - but if you're going to be sitting on a registration for some time you'll firstly want to make sure it doesn't simply expire and you lose your right to the mark, and secondly take into account any additional costs such as these fees. The DVLA may change these fees at anytime or introduce new ones - it pays to keep abreast of the DVLA's fees and policies.

What are the risks associated?

Like all investments values can go down as well as up. Number plates are a luxury item, but one that still fares well in times of global financial crises impacting everything else. Nobody has a crystal ball that can predict what will happen, but there's very little on the horizon to shake up the number plate industry until 2050 - which is when the new style of reg will run out and a new format will have to be introduced.
The DVLA govern everything and whilst that means they can change fees, rules and regulations at the drop of a hat, they're unlikely to make changes so dramatic that it causes hurt - they have a vested interest in keeping their not insignificant £300 million of annual income flowing.

How do I get started?

In a nutshell, pick a registration, buy it, keep the registration for a period, sell it!

National Numbers will be happy to advise you on buying registrations for your portfolio. As well as our large range of over 73 million reg to choose from (of which we have some 48,915 dateless registrations which traditionally bring the best returns), we also offer an auction service where we will attend DVLA auctions and bid on your behalf to secure registrations at the point of release.

No other dealer has more experience of DVLA auctions, with many satisfied auction clients. We'll walk you through the whole auction process from suggesting a realistic hammer price to listening to the bidding live on a lot.

Call our friendly sales staff on 01642 363738, or contact us here.

Investment Top Tips

  • The best time to buy a reg is when it's first released
    You'll never get a registration for less than the price it sells for when it's first released. Every time it changes hands, the newest owner will add a markup - nobody wants to sell for a loss! - so the asking price of the registration will always creep up.
  • Dateless registrations have proven to bring the best returns
    Whilst other plate formats are capable of bringing in a positive return, the biggest gains are to be had with dateless reg.
  • Buy for an audience
    You may find a registration like LXZ 2653 available for a mere £50 - but think about who may want to buy that in future. The registration doesn't visibly spell anything, LXZ aren't initials you'll find many people sharing, and the number 2653 isn't a great match for a vehicle make/model or an important date or similar (perhaps 2nd June 1953?).
    So who will you be able to sell this to? Perhaps if you have a series of LXZ plates with sequential numbers you may appeal to someone who has several vehicles, but otherwise you're, at best, looking at breaking even when selling this down the line.
    Compare this to a registration like JS 95 which has an awful lot more potential. JS are amongst the most popular initials in the UK, the 95 is a nice number that could easily represent a date/year of birth, or relate to something else significant. The reg is also very short and distinctive compared to current standard reg. The potential appeal is far greater, so it should be easier to find a buyer.

Example Returns

8 SW
Bought at auction in 1993 for £3,600, sold in 2016 for £48,099. Accounting for inflation (£3,600 in 1993 equated to approx. £6,754 by 2016), that's an increase in value of 613% over 23 years.
MJI 360
Bought at auction in 2017 for £370, sold the following year for £899. Accounting for inflation (£370 in 2017 equated to approx. £385 by 2018), that's an increase in value of 135% in just 12 months.
84 AA
Bought at auction in 2008 for £3,100, sold in 2013 for £13,245. Accounting for inflation (£3,100 in 2008 equated to approx. £3,654 by 2013), that's an increase in value of 264% in 5 years.
11 HGX
Bought at auction in 2005 for £600, sold the following year for £1,295. Accounting for inflation (£600 in 2005 equated to approx. £617 by 2006), that's an increase in value of 111% in just 12 months.
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Proud members of ALL number plate dealership trade organisations.

Cherished Numbers Dealers Association
Retail Motor Industry Federation
Cherished Numbers Guild
Institute of Registration Agents & Dealers

We're also DVLA recognised - meeting the terms and conditions of the DVLA's ethical trading practices.

We're also DVLA recognised - meeting the terms and conditions of the DVLA's ethical trading practices.
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