Commercial insurance article archive
Personalise it: buying and registering a cherished number plate
Ten years ago or more, personalised number plates were the province of the rich and famous. Seen only on high-value, high-performance cars, and seen as something of a status symbol, personalised plates weren't something found on the average shopping list.
These days, of course, all that has changed. As personalised plates have become more affordable, and hence more accessible, they've also risen in popularity. You're now just as likely to see a personal plate on a Mini as on a Merc, and putting your name (or any other word) on your car is simply another way to personalise it.
No wonder the market is growing: around two million personalised plates are sold every year in the UK, and the value of the plates themselves is also on the up, with savvy investors looking to snap up names and words likely to be sought-after.
So far, the most expensive number plate in the UK is K1NGS, which sold to an anonymous bidder for £235,000 in 2005. Even this, however, looks like a modest amount in comparison to some of the plates for sale at www.regtransfers.co.uk, where E 2 is currently available to buy – but only if you have £525,000 to spare…
At the other end of the market, you'll find plates containing your initials or other combinations of words and letters relatively cheaply. At www.newreg.co.uk, for example, you can pick up a cherished plate for as little as £199, and online auction sites such as eBay, or even your local newspaper classifieds section, may turn up something for a reasonable price.
The DVLA auction off license plates four times per year, and there's also a healthy market in re-selling old plates, so if you can't find the plate you're looking for immediately, be patient and keep looking!
Buying Your Personal Number Plate
Personal, or "cherished" number plates can come in either prefix or suffix format (with the date-identifier coming at the beginning or end of the registration respectively), or you can also choose a dateless number plate. As the name suggests, a dateless plate does not contain any reference to its date of issue, and is therefore more flexible – and expensive – when it comes to personalising it.
Of course, buying a personalised number plate isn’t quite as straightforward as simply finding a plate you like and sticking it on your car. Your number plate is a legal requirement which identifies your vehicle to the police and DVLA (Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency), and its an offence to change the number on your car without informing the relevant authorities.
In this case, the relevant body is the DVLA, and you'll need to fill in their form V750 – the certificate of entitlement - in order to transfer your new number to your vehicle. There's also an £80 assignment fee to make the plate yours – and another £80 to pay should you decide to transfer the plate to another vehicle.
To view and download the necessary forms, visit the DVLA's Personalised registrations website at www.dvlaregistrations.co.uk. Remember, the registration process will normally take around four days, during which time your vehicle is unregistered and therefore not road legal.
Picking Your Plate
While most people who purchase personal number plates will opt for an approximation of their name or initials, others prefer to spell out a word that either means something to them or just looks good!
If you choose not to purchase your license plate direct from the DVLA, bear in mind that there are a number of legalities which must be taken into consideration before making a purchase. These are set down in the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations, which are well worth a read if you have questions on what is and isn't permitted.
In brief, the regulations relating to vehicle registration are there to ensure that all number plates are legible. The British Standard for number plates requires them to be displayed on both the front and rear of each vehicle, with a white background to the front and yellow background to the rear. There are guidelines, too, as the font and size of the lettering on your numberplate: the swirly, italic fonts which are popular with so many motorists are actually illegal, as they don't conform to these guidelines.
For more detailed information on how your vehicle's number plate should look, visit this page on the main DVLA site to stay on the right side of the law.
It's also worth bearing in mind that while it's fine to select numbers or letters that are important to you for your personal place, it's a very different matter if your number plate becomes misleading. If you've selected a prefix or suffix plate, for example, which carries an age-identifier as part of the registration, you must make sure that the identifier does not make your vehicle seem younger than it actually is.
It's also an offence to use numbers in such a manner as to make them look like letters: for example, the numbers 1 and 3 together could look like the letter B, and could therefore be misleading.
Ready to Buy?
If, after all this, you still think a personalised number plate is for you, it's best to go through a reputable dealer in order to make sure that your plate will comply with current legislation. Your first stop should be http://www.dvla-som.co.uk/home, where you can find out what's available, as well as downloading the paperwork you'll need to make your new license plate legal.
Once you've purchased your plate, you'll join the 2.8% of the population currently estimated to be in possession of a personalised number plate. You'll also be in good company. Her Majesty the Queen's registration is a personalised one – A 7 – while until recently, her daughter, Princess Ann was the proud owner of 1 Ann – she removed it for security reasons.
Jimmy Tarbuck, meanwhile, owns COM 1C, while VIP1 is currently back on the market, having been used by the Pope whilst on a visit to Ireland. Don't break out the credit card just yet, though: with some plates selling for thousands, you could end up with a number plate worth more than your car.
23 May 2006