Learn About Personalised Number Plates in UK

Displaying number plates on vehicles is compulsory under UK laws. Number plates are provided randomly, within a specified format containing details of registration date and location, for every vehicle registered with the DVLA. However, vehicle owners also have the option of buying personalised number plates.

Also known as private number plates, these personalised plates allow vehicle owners to select their preferred combination of numbers and letters which reflect their name, address, personal belief and other identifying factors or unique personal traits. Naturally, private reg cost more than standard registration – frequently in the region between hundreds to thousands of pounds.

Rules and Requirements

Similar to standard registrations, these private plates are regulated by DVLA’s Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001. As such, the rules governing the purchase, style, appearance and display of a personalised number plate is the same with a conventional plate. Some of the more common specifications include:

Material: Made from a material with strong retroreflective properties. The current favourite among manufacturers is acrylic, a highly durable, light and reflective material.

Colour, Font: All letterings and numbers must be in black

Colour, Background: There are two background colours for number plates: yellow for rear plates and white for front plates

Typeface: All characters on the number plate must be printed in the Charles Wright 2001 typography. No embellishments (bold, italics or cursive) are allowed.

Additional Information: The name and post code of the manufacturer and supplier must be inscribed on the number plate. This is a preventive measure against counterfeit plates.

Vehicles owners who contravene the regulation may face fines of up to £1,000. In serious cases, DVLA reserves the right to withdraw the registration of the offending vehicle.

How much does a private number plate cost?

It depends entirely on the character combination. Generic combinations found on DVLA’s auction site cost from £250 upwards. Shorter or more unique combinations, typically sold privately between owners, can run into thousands and even hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Are there any hidden costs for personalised plates?

No, the fees are fixed. Transferring a private registration from one vehicle to another costs £80 (assignment fee). However, if you plan on taking the number offline for future use, the fees are £80 (assignment fee) plus an annual fee of £25 for the retention certificate, which is renewable for as long as intend to keep the number offline (fresh application required every ten years). However, when you decide to assign the number to a vehicle, you will not have to pay the assignment fee again.

Are personalised number plates transferable?

Typically yes, unless the V5C certificate has a “Non Transferable Registration Mark” notation.

Can vehicle owners buy a brand new, never been used personalised number plate?

All the possible character permutations (about 45 million) are listed on DVLA’s auction site. A large chunk of them has never been registered before.