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A buyer's guide to buying personalised number plates.
3 mins

Buyer's Guide: Personalised number plates


Adding a personalised plate to your four wheels offers a distinct opportunity for vehicle owners to express their individuality and make a statement on the road. Whether you're a seasoned collector or a first-time buyer, navigating the world of personalised number plates can be an exciting but complex journey. Well don’t fret, we're here to provide you with a comprehensive guide to help guide you along the way!

Understand the basics

Before diving into the world of personalised number plates, you need to get a grasp of the fundamentals:

Format: Personalised plates adhere to specific formats determined by each country's regulatory authority. In the UK, for example, plates follow a pattern of two letters, two numbers, and three letters (e.g., AB12 CDE). Familiarise yourself with these formats to ensure your plate complies with legal requirements.

DVLA and legal compliance: Always ensure that your personalised plate is registered with the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) or the equivalent authority. Non-compliant plates may lead to fines or even vehicle registration issues.

Price range: Determine your budget before starting your search. Personalised plates vary significantly in price, so having a clear budget will help you narrow down your options and keep you from splashing out too much.

Choose a theme or message

Personalised plates can convey a wide range of messages, commonly from the owner’s name to their hobbies, initials or a phrase. Think about what you want to convey with your plate and choose a theme accordingly. Keep in mind that some messages might be subject to restrictions, so check with your local authority for any limitations.

Research available options

Once you have an idea of your theme or message, start researching available options. This can be done through online auctions like ours, specialised dealers, or directly from the DVLA's official website. Consider the following:

Availability: Check if your desired combination is available. Some popular combinations may already be registered, so it's a good idea to have several backup options.

Auctions: Keep an eye on our auctions, as you might discover unique and exclusive personalised plates for sale that would fit the bill. You’ll often find a diverse range of plates, from traditionary to more contemporary options.

Special characters: Explore the use of special characters like spaces, hyphens, and symbols to create a unique look for your plate. However, be aware of any restrictions on special characters in your country.

Authenticity and provenance

When purchasing a personalised number plate, ensure its authenticity and provenance:

Documentation: Ask for all relevant documentation, including the Certificate of Entitlement and V750 or V778 retention document. These documents prove your legal ownership of the plate.

Verify ownership: Check that the seller has the legal right to transfer the registration. Verify their identity and ensure that they are the rightful owner of the plate.

Previous owners: If possible, inquire about the plate's history, including any notable previous owners or its origin. This can add value and uniqueness to your plate.


Pricing for personalised plates can vary widely. Factors such as the combination's popularity, rarity, and desirability can influence the price. Be prepared to shop around and be aware of the market value for similar plates. Consider the following:

Market research: Research recent sales of similar plates to gauge a fair price range. Online marketplaces, specialised forums, and price guides can be valuable resources for this.

Extra costs: In addition to the purchase price, consider any associated costs, such as transfer fees and administrative charges. Factor these into your budget to avoid surprises. With our auctions you’ll see the BP (Buyer’s Premium) clearly displayed with each lot and you’ll need to add this percentage to the final hammer va

Transfer process

Transferring a personalised number plate can involve paperwork and fees. Ensure you understand the transfer process, including any associated costs. The steps typically include:

Application: Submit the necessary forms to the DVLA or the relevant authority, including the Certificate of Entitlement.

Transfer fee: Pay any applicable transfer fees, which can vary depending on your country and the type of transfer.

Vehicle changes: If you're transferring the plate to a different vehicle, be prepared for additional paperwork and potential vehicle inspections.

Retaining plates: If you decide to retain the plate for future use, follow the process for retaining it on a retention certificate.

Maintenance and care

To maintain the value and legality of your personalised plate, keep the following in mind:

Regular maintenance: Clean and care for your plate to prevent damage or deterioration. Use appropriate cleaning products and techniques to keep it looking its best.

Legal compliance: Always ensure your plate complies with current regulations. This includes keeping it clearly legible and free from any unauthorised alterations.

Plate frames and accessories: If you use plate frames or accessories, make sure they do not obscure any part of the registration and are within legal limits.

Personalised number plates offer a unique way to express your identity and add a touch of personal flair to your vehicle. With the right knowledge and careful consideration, you can find the perfect plate to suit your style and preferences.

Keep this buyer's guide handy as you explore the exciting world of personalised plates. Happy hunting!