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Where can I buy a private registration plate?

There are lots of possibilites.

You may chance upon the perfect private registration plate by a lucky coincidence. But the majority of registration plates are bought and sold via number plate companies. That's because they have specialist online search facilities to make it easier to find the perfect number plate for you. And they usually take care of all the paperwork to transfer the private number plate to your car as part of the service.

Can I put any private registration plate on my car?

In many cases, yes. The most important thing to remember is that you cannot make a car appear newer than it is.

Most registration plates have a age or year identifier. The exception to this are Irish number plates and dateless number plates. The DVLA rules for cherished transfers are that you cannot assign a number plate that  was issued after your car was manufactured. That means you can't put a W registration (such as W9 ABC) on a T registration car. Or a 58 registration (like XX58 ABC) on a 52 plate car. You'll find a full list of car number plate registration dates so you can check your car with registration plates you can assign to it.

Irish and dateless private registration plates can be put on any car regardless of age.

How do I buy a private registration plate?

There are lots of ways to buy.

Most private registration plates are bought through a number plate company, which is usually advertising on behalf of the seller. But there are other places you may also find number plates for sale... such as adverts in newspapers and magazines, and even auction sites.

Prices can vary a lot. The main factor when deciding on a private registration to buy is your budget. Decide roughly what that is before starting your search. See our guide on how to buy a personalised car number plate.

How much does it cost to buy a private registration plate?

Anywhere from £99 upwards.

The cheapest private number plates start from £99 plus DVLA fees. These are usually Irish number plates. After that, the sky's the limit. The most expensive number plate so far in the UK was sold for over £400,000! The more popular private registration plates, such as first names like Paul or Andrew, are in high demand... pushing up prices. Even shortened names like BOB or JON are very sought after. Even common initials (like JMS) sell quickly.

So... basically... the more people likely to want that registration number, the more the price goes up.

What happens when I buy a private registration plate? How does it go on my car?

Your new registration number will need to be assigned to your car.

When you buy a private registration plate, what happens next depends on where you buy it from, and where it is at the time you buy. And whether you plan to put it straight onto a vehicle.... or hold it on a DVLA Certificate for a while.

If the private registration plate is on a V778 Retention Document or V750 Certificate of Entitlement, it needs to be transferred into your name (as the Nominee). And then assigned to your car... whether that's straightaway, or later on. you will need to bear in mind that these Certificates have an expiry date, and must be renewed... or entitlement to the registration plate will be lost.

If it's on a car, it needs to be either transferred straight to your car, or placed onto a V778 Retention Document.

If you've bought the private registration plate from a number plate company, it's likely they will manage the sale and transfer for you. If you've bought it privately, take a look at our guides on how to transfer a private number plate and number plate retention.

How long does it take to buy a private registration plate?

Anywhere from 1 to 6 weeks usually. In exceptional cases, up to 12 weeks.

The time it takes to buy a registration plate depends on where the registration plate is when you buy it. Usually, if it's still on a vehicle, it takes longer for the application to transfer the number plate is processed and approved by the DVLA. In some cases, the DVLA may decide to inspect the vehicle before approving the transfer - which can add a further delay.

If the private registration plate is on a V778 Retention Document or a V750 Certificate of Entitlement, it's usually quicker to complete the transfer.

There are other unpredictable factors too... sometimes the seller may not make all the right documents available quickly. And sometimes it can take the DVLA longer to process applications if they are particularly busy or have a backlog. These are unpredictable. And you should allow plenty of time if you are planning a gift for a special occasion.

If I buy a private registration plate, what happens to my old one?

Unless you apply to retain it, it will be lost.

When you apply to assign a new private registration plate to your vehicle, the old one is automatically lost. In most cases, that doesn't matter. But, if you want to sell your personalised car number plate, or transfer the private number plate to another vehicle, you will need to apply to the DVLA. You must put in an application for retention of number plate at the same time as assigning the new registration plate to the car. DVLA fees apply.

If I buy a private registration plate, what happens when I want to change my car later?

You can apply to retain the registration or transfer it.

When you change cars, you will need to apply to the DVLA to keep the private registration. Otherwise, the registrstion plate goes with the car! You can either transfer registration direct to another car, or hold it on a Retention Document (DVLA fees apply). You can hold the registration plate on retention for up to 12 months, though you can apply to extend it if you have not transferred it to a car in that time.

What are the cheapest private registration plates to buy?

In a word... Irish.

Generally speaking, Irish number plates are the cheapest private number plates. There are lots of them... which makes them cheaper than other number plates. And what's more, they can be transferred to a vehicle of any age... which makes them popular. they're great for hiding the age of a car too... without breaking the bank.

There are other options too. See our guide on how to find cheap registration numbers for tips on getting the most for your money.