What is a Personalised Number Plate?

In the United Kingdom, it is mandatory for every car owner to display their vehicles’ alphanumeric registration mark on number plates. The combination of letters and numbers are provided randomly by DVLA based on registration date and location. However, the DVLA also offers vehicle owners the opportunity to purchase personalised number plates.

Personalised number plates, also known as private number plates, allow vehicle owners to purchase a unique combination of alphanumeric registration mark for their vehicles. Customers may purchase combinations that reflect their favourite numbers, acronyms or even complete words. Like a conventional plate, a private plate will be tied to the vehicle and not the owners – unless a transfer application is made (and approved).


It is worth noting that personalised marks or plates are still subject to the regulations stipulated in DVLA’s Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001. Among other specification, the plates

If vehicles owners fail to comply with any of DVLA’s list of requirements, they may be subjected to fines of up to £1,000.

How much does a private number plate cost?

It depends on where you buy it. Currently, DVLA’s auction site is selling generic personalised plates for a few hundred pounds each. However, cheaper bargains can still be found there if you look hard enough.

Buying directly from current owners will usually cost more as very unique number plates are usually sold privately.

Are there any hidden costs for personalised plates?

Not if you use it on your vehicle continuously. If you take the plate off a vehicle (for future use), then you will need to pay £105 for a retention certificate, as well as an annual fee of £25.

Are personalised number plates transferable?

Yes, unless the V5c form indicates “Non Transferable Registration Mark’. Otherwise, transfers can be made at a cost of £80 (assignment fee) to the Department of Transport.

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

Theoretically, yes. There are definitely some combinations that have never been registered before. Chances are though, those combination are either banned, or just plain unattractive.

Important: Once you transfer a new personalised number to a car, its existing plate number is voided – unless you have made a retention application with the Department of Transport.