A lot of people donâ€™t give a second thought to their carâ€™s registration number. To them itâ€™s just a string of random letters and numbers that stops them losing it in a car park.
But for some drivers a number plate is a way to express their individuality. Personalised plates can be used to signify a driverâ€™s name, profession, hobbies or even reflect the carâ€™s make or model.
So if you fancy giving your car a unique touch, hereâ€™s our guide to buying, selling and fitting a personalised or private registration.
How to buy a private or personalised registration
You can buy your registration of choice through a few different avenues. One of the biggest is through the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) itself. Since 1983 the DVLA has been holding back combinations perceived as valuable and has been selling them since 1989. Millions can be bought through the DVLA website but it also hosts regular auctions.
There are also dozens of private companies which offer personalised plates for sale with prices ranging from tens of pounds to tens of thousands.
You can also buy a registration direct from its owner.
Once youâ€™ve found the plate you want itâ€™s a matter of paying for it and ensuring you get the paperwork.Â You should receive either a V750 certificate, which confirms you are entitled to use that registration, or a V778 retention certificate.
There are two main restrictions on private plates.
The first is that you canâ€™t buy any of the combinations that fall under the DVLAâ€™s banned list.
You also canâ€™t make a car appear newer than it is. For example, if your car was first registered in 2000 you cannot use any plate newer than an X prefix. And you canâ€™t put a personalised plate on a â€˜Qâ€™ registered car.
Assigning a registration
Once youâ€™ve got the paperwork proving your entitlement you need to assign the registration to a vehicle, which doesn’t cost anything.
If you want to assign it to a brand new car you can give the V750 or V778 to the dealer and they will sort out assigning the registration to your ordered car and fitting the plates.
If you want to assign it to a car you already own then you can do it online on the DVLAâ€™s site or by post. You will need the V750/V778 certificate number and the V5C (log book) reference number.
Once you get the new VC5 showing the private registration you can have new plates made up by a registered plate supplier.
Your carâ€™s old registration number will be withdrawn unless you have applied to transfer or retain it.
Removing or transferring a private registration
You can take a private number off a car if you no longer want to use it or want to assign it to another car.
You can do so online or by post and your car will automatically be assigned a new registration. Youâ€™ll then have to get new plates made up.
If you remove a private registration from a car you retain the right to use it for 10 years, which you can extend.
Alternatively, you can transfer the number immediately to another vehicle either by post using a V317 form or online. If youâ€™ve taken the number off a vehicle online, you can assign it to another vehicle straight away using the reference number you get at the end.
Selling a private registration
If you no longer want your personalised registration you can give up the entitlement or sell or give it away.
If youâ€™re giving a number to someone, you simply follow the steps for assigning your private number to a vehicle.
If youâ€™re selling privately you need to assign the number to the new vehicle either by using the DVLAâ€™s website or by filling in the certificate and posting it.
Alternatively, you can use a private number dealer or broker. Most dealers will find a buyer, arrange the payment and transfer the number to the buyerâ€™s vehicle for you.