Learn how to buy or sell a private number plate in the UK, with our useful guide.


Why do people buy private number plates?

People usually buy private (or personalised) number plates to cosmetically enhance their vehicle, or as a gift to someone for their vehicle.


How to buy a private number plate 

Purchasing, assigning and fitting a private number plate is a relatively straightforward process. Here we show you how.


How to sell a private number plate

Perhaps you’re wondering, how do I sell my number plate?

We’ll also cover how to sell your number plate here so read on to find out more…

Personalised NumberplatesHow do you buy a private number plate? - The process for buying a private number plate

The key steps in the process of buying a private (personalised) number plate are:

  • Buy your new number plates
  • Assign the number plates at gov.uk
  • Get the number plates manufactured
  • Tell your insurer you have bought a new private number plate
  • Update any relevant automatic payment accounts
  • Fit the new number plates


Where can I find private number plates for sale?

Once you’ve decided that you want to buy a private number plate, then begins the search for your new number plates.

There are 3 main options as to where you can buy number plates:


Buying number plates from the DVLA website

The cheapest option is to use the DVLA plate website.

Not many people are aware that it is possible to buy number plates from the DVLA.

This government website also holds auctions around 5 times a year so you have the chance to buy especially sought-after number plates.


How much does it cost to buy number pates from the DVLA?

The total cost for buying number plates from the DVLA website starts at £250.


How can I find out what registrations the DVLA will be selling?

You can see a list of the new registrations coming up for auction on the DVLA website.


Buying private number plates from a private firm

There are a large number of firms from which you can buy private number plates, you’ll find many of these dealers online.


What is the downside of buying private number plates from a private firm?

Bear in mind, buying your new number plates from a private firm may be more expensive than buying number plates via the DVLA website.


What is the positive of buying private number plates from a private firm?

Buying number plates from a private firm is likely to offer a wider choice than buying from the DVLA.

This means that there is more chance that you will be able to purchase a private number plate along the lines of what you seek.


Buy number plates privately 

You can buy a number plate from a private seller in the same way you would from a private firm.


What is the positive of buying number plates privately?

Buying privately often means a better deal for both buyer and seller, as you can deal directly and negotiate on price, and cut out the fees of the middlemen- the private dealers.


What are the negatives of buying number plates privately?

Buying a number plate privately can pose a little more risk, as unfortunately, there are scammers out there.


Advice of buying a number plate privately

If the registration number is still currently assigned to the seller’s car, to ensure the relevant paperwork for the transfer of the registration is completed as quickly as possible, to make sure you don’t get left empty-handed after handing over any money.


Number plate transfer fee

You should note, when  buying number plates, the cost will include an £80 transfer fee.


Buy the personalised number plates

Before you pay for your new number plates, note that some number plates cannot be fitted to older cars.

This is because you cannot use a personalised number plate to make a vehicle look newer than it is.

Next, pay for your plates using a debit or credit card.

If buying private number plates from the DVLA, having bought your private number plates, you should get an email order confirmation. This can also be done by post.


V750 and V778 certificates

If buying brand new plates from the DVLA or a private firm, you will receive a V750 Certificate of Entitlement, which proves you own the number plate.

If buying a pre-used registration, you will receive a V778 certificate.


What’s the difference between the V750 and V778 certificate?

When you buy a private plate you will get either a V750 or a V778 certificate. Both documents are essentially the same thing – a certificate proving who owns the registration number – but a V750 is pink and a V778 is green.

The pink V750 is for a registration that has never been allocated to a vehicle before,  the green V778 is for a reg  that has already been on a vehicle.


Assign the number plates at gov.uk

If the vehicle is registered to you, once you have the V750 Certificate of Entitlement or V778 Certificate, you can visit gov.uk to assign the number plate online.

This can be done immediately assuming your vehicle does not need an inspection.


How to assign the number plates at gov.uk?

Simply follow the instructions on visit gov.uk.

You'll need to enter:

  • your new number plates
  • your old number plates
  • your logbook reference number
  • your V750 / V778 reference number.

You should then get an email confirmation stating the change has gone through.

The vehicle that you wish to assign the registration to, must have been taxed for the last 5 years with no gaps or have been declared SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification)

Once the online application has been completed, you should then get an email confirmation stating the change has gone through.


Can I assign my number plates by post?

Yes, you can also apply to assign the registration with the DVLA by post.

If the vehicle is:

  • a used vehicle you just bought - wait for DVLA to send you a new V5C in your name before you apply online or by post
  • brand new - give the dealer your V750 or V778 document and ask them to apply
  • registered to someone else and you want the private number to be transferred to them - apply online or by post


How much does it cost to assign number plates with the DVLA?

It’s free to apply online or by post.


What happens once I have assigned my number plates with the DVLA?

After you've assigned the number plates you'll receive a new log book (V5C). You'll need to show this to the number plate supplier in the next step.


Get the number plates manufactured

That's right, even though you just bought your number plate - the DVLA doesn't send you an actual set of number plates. You’ll need to get these manufactured. You could go with a straightforward number plate or an embossed/3D number plate. Search online for manufacturers that can meet your needs.


What are the rules on getting number plates manufactured?

Number plates must be manufactured to the British Standard and must be fully reflective.

You must use a registered UK number plate supplier.


What documentation will I need to get number plates manufactured?

The manufacturer will need to see an original document showing your name and address, such as a driving licence or bank statement from the last 6 months.

They will also need to see a document showing you’re allowed to use the registration number.

The most common are:

  • vehicle registration certificate (V5C or V5CNI)
  • green ‘new keeper’ slip from the V5C or V5CNI
  • certificate of entitlement (V750 or V750NI) to the number
  • retention document (V778)
  • a renewal reminder for vehicle tax or SORN (V11 or V11NI)
  • temporary registration certificate (V379 or V379NI)

Number plates

How to upgrade your number plates with flags, symbols and identifiers

When ordering your new number plates online, you can choose to have a flag or national identifier added. These are:

  • Union flag (aka Union Jack)
  • Cross of St George
  • Cross of St Andrew - (aka the Saltire)
  • Red Dragon of Wales

The letters, or national identifiers, you can add are:

  • GREAT BRITAIN, Great Britain or GB
  • UNITED KINGDOM, United Kingdom or UK
  • CYMRU, Cymru, CWM or Cwm
  • ENGLAND, England, ENG, Eng
  • SCOTLAND, Scotland, SCO or Sco
  • WALES or Wales


What are the rules on adding flags, symbols or identifiers to your number plate?

Any national identifiers that you add to your registration must be placed on the left-hand side of the number plate.

The supplier's website should make it easy and clear as to how your number plate must be laid out by law.

Note that to drive your car in some countries (Spain, Cyprus or Malta) you must have a UK sticker (formerly a GB sticker), no matter what you add to your number plate.


Find out more about driving in Europe


Insurance Company Call Centre

Tell your insurer you have changed your number plates

Inform your insurance company of the change in number plates.

You can normally tell your insurer that you have changed number plates online for a small fee.


Update any relevant automatic payment accounts

Update any relevant automatic payment accounts with your new number plate details, such as:

If you don’t you may receive a penalty charge.


Update your registration details with your breakdown provider

You’ll also need to inform your roadside breakdown cover provider that you have changed your number plates to ensure your vehicle will be recognised on your policy in the event of a breakdown.

If you are a current Start Rescue customer, you can update your vehicle details here:


Customer lounge


Don’t currently have breakdown cover?

You can get affordable and reliable cover from Start Rescue in three simple steps, just by clicking on the link below:


Buy breakdown cover


Fit your new number plates

Once you've received your new number plates, you can fit them yourself, or get your local garage to do it.


How to sell a private number plate

The process for selling a private number plate:

The key steps in the process of selling a private number plate are:

  • Advertise and sell your number plates
  • Receive payment
  • Add number plates to a retention certificate with the DVLA
  • Send the Certificate Number to the new owner for assigning
  • Don’t forget about the £80 fee for deregistering the plates - and make sure your sale price covers it


Does the DVLA buy number plates?

If you are looking to sell a personalised number plate, the DVLA will not buy your private number plate.

It only holds and sells number plates that have never been issued to a vehicle before.

So, how to sell a private number plate?


Best place to sell a private number plate: Where can I sell my private number plate?

You can sell your number plate either using a number plate dealer - who will charge you commission - or you can sell privately.

Selling your private number plate is possible on eBay, Gumtree, or one of the many other classified ad sites.

You can also choose to sell your plates on a dedicated number plate selling website. Search online to find these.


How do I value my number plate?

Wondering how much is my number plate worth?

If you’re looking to sell your number plate, you no doubt want to know how much it is actually worth before selling it.

It's possible to get a valuation on your number plates, but how useful or accurate these number plate valuations are is open to debate.

In short a number plate is worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it. And this all depends on how desirable it is to other people.

When looking to see how much your number plate is worth, look to find similar number plates as a benchmark for working out the number plate value.


What are the most popular number plates?

Generally speaking, number plates which feature names or words tend to be sought after so are more likely to attract a higher price tag.

Similarly, number plates with dates and initials are popular


Discover the world's most costly number plates


How to transfer the number plates to the new owner

Once you have sold your number plate, assign the number plate to the new owner online.

It's better to do this with the buyer present in person if possible - especially if the plates have achieved a high price.

The buyer will probably want to see a photo of your logbook (V5C) before proceeding with payment.

When providing these documents, make sure you conceal the certificate number/reference number. This is because with these numbers someone to instantly transfer your number plate to their car.

Also conceal the VIN number because they can apply for a new logbook with this. Scamming is rare but it does happen.

How to put a personalised number plate on retention

What is retention?

You may hear the term “on retention” a lot when you’re buying or selling a private number plate.

Retention is referring to a plate that currently isn’t allocated to a vehicle, but it is owned by someone.


Add number plates to retention certificate with DVLA

Once you've received payment, use the DVLA number plate website to de-register the plates from your vehicle and add them on to a retention certificate.

DVLA number plate retention costs £80 including the Assignment Fee.

You can use the V317 application form to apply for your number plate retention by post.


Send Certificate Number to the new owner

You should then send the new owner the Certificate Number with which they can assign the registration to their vehicle instantly online, through the DVLA website.


How do you add a new number plate to your car once you have sold your private number plate?

If the plate has been through the transfer procedure and is now on a vehicle, the new owner to who you have sold the number plate won’t hold a V778 until they apply to the DVLA and pay to have the registration number put on retention.

Once this has happened, your car that had the private number will either be issued with its original number, if it had one and if it’s still available, or a brand-new number appropriate to its date of registration. 

Don’t forget to tell your insurer (and your breakdown provider) that you have changed your number plates.


Selling car with private number plate: Can you sell a car with a private number plate?

Yes, you can indeed sell a car with a private number plate.

Selling on your vehicle complete with private plate sometimes even adds to the car’s value, especially if you have a sought after personalised number plates, such as one with a name, dates, initials or words.


Can I keep my private number plate if I sell my car?

Yes. If you sell your car, it is possible to retain the registration plate and attach it to another car, hold on to it or even sell it on individually.