Learn how to buy or sell a private number plate in the UK, with our useful guide.
How to buy a private number plate
People usually buy private (or personalised) number plates to cosmetically enhance their vehicle, or as a gift to someone for their vehicle. Purchasing, assigning and fitting a private number plate is a relatively straightforward process. Here we show you how.
The process for buying a private number plate::
- Buy your new number plates
- Assign the number plates at gov.uk
- Get the number plates manufactured
- Tell your insurer
- Update any relevant automatic payment accounts
- Fit the new number plates
The cheapest option is to use the DVLA plate website. This government website also holds auctions so you have the chance to buy especially sought-after number plates. The total cost starts at £250.
You can also buy your new number plates from a private firm. This may be more expensive than the DVLA website.
The cost includes an £80 transfer fee.
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.
Having bought your private number plates you should get an email order confirmation. The DVLA will send you a form called a V750 Certificate of Entitlement, which proves you own the number plate.
This can also be done by post.
Once you have the V750 Certificate of Entitlement you can visit gov.uk to assign the number plate online. This can be done immediately assuming your vehicle does not need an inspection.
Simply follow the instructions. You'll need to enter your new number plates, your old number plates, your logbook reference number, and your V750 reference number.
You should then get an email confirmation stating the change has gone through.
This can also be done by post.
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.
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.
Number plates must be manufactured to the British Standard and must be fully reflective. You must use a registered UK number plate supplier.
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)
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
They 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.
Inform your insurance company of the change in number plates. You can normally do this online for a small fee.
Update any relevant automatic payment accounts, such as:
- the Congestion Charge
- the Low Emission Zone Charge
- the Ultra Low Emission Zone Charge
- the Dart Charge
- charges for driving in Clean Air Zones
If you don’t you may receive a penalty charge.
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:
- 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
No, 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.
You sell your number plate either using a number plate dealer - who will charge you commission - or you can sell privately. You might sell privately 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.
It's possible to get a valuation on your number plates, but how useful or accurate these are is open to debate.
Once the sale is complete, 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.
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. This costs £80 including the Assignment Fee. You can use the V317 application form to do this by post.
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.