Your guide to private number plates

Are you thinking about buying a private number plate? Check out this blog before you click 'buy now' so you're up to date with the latest guidelines - helping you to avoid a £1,000 fine!

Your guide to private number plates

The '71 registration plate is here

With the release of the '71 registration plates in September 2021, the DVLA announced the latest number plate registrations banned from purchase, including some COVID-19 related ones such as CO71 RNA and CO71 ONA.

The DVLA review the list of banned number plate registrations twice a year and ban any that "may cause offence, embarrassment, or are in poor taste". It is difficult to understand why anyone would want to have EA71 POO displayed on their vehicle, but regardless, the DVLA have banned it from being registered.

Aside from offensive and controversial number plate registrations, there are a wide number of (non-offensive) number plates available to purchase from the DVLA, and if you were to buy one, you would own one of 45 million private number plate registrations in the UK – that's more than the number of licensed vehicles in England, Wales, and Scotland combined! 

Cherished number plates

Once seen as a luxury item showcased by celebrities on their supercars, private number plates have become much more affordable and are now found on more common vehicle makes such as Volkswagen, Ford, and BMW. Don't get us wrong, some number plate registrations are less affordable, with some selling for thousands of pounds - some have even been known to sell for millions of pounds!

In 2008, the number plate registration 1 was purchased by Abdul Ghaffar Khouri for £7.25 million. Why? Because one is "the best number" according to the owner.

In the UK, the most expensive number plate registration to be sold was 25 O which was purchased by John Collins for £518,000 in 2014 – the private number plate now has pride of place on a Ferrari 250SWB once owned by Eric Clapton, known as one of the most influential musicians of all time. 

Private number plates for sale

Currently on the DVLA website there are a wide variety of personalised registrations for sale. If your name is Grace or Gracie, GRA 13A and GRA 31E are both up for grabs in an upcoming auction, with prices starting at £300. For those named Jack, bidding will commence from £300 for 'JAC I4K' in another upcoming auction.*

Top tip

If you have a common name, it can be difficult to find a personalised number plate registration that reflects this. If this is the case for you, try searching for variations of your name and reimagine letters of your name as numbers I.e. think of an ‘S’ as a number five (5). Failing that, you could even search for your initials. 

If you purchase a number plate registration from a private seller, ensure that all the documentation is genuine, including: the Certificate of Entitlement (V750) and/or the retention document (V778) if the number plate is not currently being used on a vehicle. It is also important to remember that both you and the seller will need to complete a V317 which is an "application to keep a vehicle registration number and put it on another vehicle" – if you decide against using the registration number on your vehicle, you must still pay to retain it. 

The law surrounding private number plates

Although you must pay for the privilege of owning a private number plate registration, this doesn't mean that you can display your number plate however you like; there are guidelines you must follow to avoid breaking the law and receiving a fine, including ensuring the characters on your registration plate are not obscured in any way that could be deemed as misleading. For example, using a font that makes the characters unreadable, or spacing the characters incorrectly.

If you purchase a private number plate for your vehicle that is financed through First Response Finance, make sure to let us know so that we can update your details on our system.


Information includes references to:

Primo Registrations - 15 surprising stats about cherished number plates


*Information correct as of 24/09/2021

Advice | 27.09.21

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