How do I order a personalised number plate? How much do they cost?

To many people, a personalised number plate is a proper baller move. Things, celebrities, sportsmen and millionaires have.  They’re associated with wealth because they can literally be worth millions of pounds. Yikes!

You know what though, some people make A LOT of money from them. If you can buy one that a lot of people would like at a price you can afford, it may rise in value significantly over the years. So here is everything you could possibly need to know about personalised number plates.

Do you have one? Thinking about getting one? Let me know!

(Ok – but before you run off and spend £2k on a personalised number plate assuming you’re going to be all to double or triple the value in the next year or so – stop. It’s not something I’d personally recommend as an investment opportunity, I’m more about maxing a stocks and shares ISA.)

How much do personalised number plates cost?

When you buy a personalised registration number, you’re not really buying a physical thing – you’re buying the right to assign the number to the vehicle you name. This vehicle can be owned by you, leased, or in someone else’s name.

You pay separately to get the number actually put on a plate ready for your motor, which I’ll go into below.

The most popular ones and therefore most expensive are single numbers, especially if they are linked with initials – ie, LE 1. You’ve also got those that spell out a common name such as ANDR 3EW.

personalised number plate

The cost of a personalised number plates depends on a load of different factors, including, but not limited to:

  • Where the number plate comes from (DVLA? Auction? Private seller?)
  • Who it comes from (see above)
  • How long has it been on the market (The longer it’s on the market, the more likely a seller will drop its price)
  • How much interest has it had
  • Are there other private number plates like it? (Would a buyer be happy to buy something similar that is cheaper?)

It’s basic economics – all about supply and demand. You want something really obvious and popular ‘Charlotteisbabe’ for example, it’s going to cost you an arm and a leg.

The personalised number plate itself is not expensive (I literally mean the metal thing you attach to your motor) – the spend comes from buying the ‘rights’ to it off someone else is though. There are no annual fees to pay any more, so it’s a one-off payment.

personalised number plate

To see what’s on offer and how much they are, the easiest thing to is to go the DVLA website where there are literally millions of personalised number plates starting from around £250. The price includes an £80 assignment fee and VAT so there are no hidden fees. What you see is what you pay.

You can enter your initials or the word you’re looking for (I’ve spent hours looking up stupid ones!) and a list will come up showing the current ones for sale/atuction. But let me be frank – you ain’t getting one of your name for £250. Anything obvious costs a fortune.

Want to know what the UK’s most expensive car number plates are? Well, Autoexpress has the answer and they’re eyewateringly expensive.

’25 O’ cost a whopping £518,000, but is now worth £10 million! ‘F 1’ was bought for £440,00, ‘S 1’, for £404,000, and my favourite, ‘VIP 1’ for £285,000 bought by Roman Abramovich. Maybe he’ll do me a good deal?

Can I find the owner of a car with the license plate number I want?

You can’t hunt down someone who has the personalised number plate you’d ideally like. Your best bet is to go to one of the many sites that list number plates that are up for sale or of course the DVLA website.

personalised number plates

You can then get your number plate made up from a registered number plate supplier. You just need to enter your postcode into the’s website and it will tell you where your nearest supplier is.

How do I order a personalised number plate?

There are a few ways to order a personalised number plate with varying differences in cost and difficulty. These include:

Buy from the DVLA

You can buy a personalised registration for your numbers plates from DVLA online or at auction. You can search on the GOV.UK website to see which numbers are available and how much they cost.

Personalised registration numbers can only be used on a vehicle registered (or about to be registered), taxed and used in the UK.

Registration number auctions

You can also buy a registration number at auction via the DVLA auction, which happen across the country and occur about five times a year. You can see a list of the numbers that are coming up for sale in advance.

You can bid online, in person, by phone or in writing.

Private sales

You can buy a private number plate from a dealer or from another person. If you do go down this route, make sure you receive the V750 certificate or entitlement or V778 certificate of retention.

Personalised number plate

How long do personalised number plates take?

It shouldn’t take long. Typically, it takes a day or so for a website you use to process your order. They’ll then need to post you a Certificate Entitlement (V750) which you typically should receive within two weeks.

What is the annual fee for personalised plates?

There are no annual fees to pay as long as the private number plate is on the vehicle. Of course, if a tax or MOT is needed that has to be paid for, but the number plate itself has no fees.

Check out my blog on free MOT reminders.

personalised number plate

Before 2015 you used to have to pay a retention fee of £25 a year, but these days it’s not the car. The retention certificate will be valid for 10 years and you can review it completely free of charge once it has expired.

Are my number plates legal?

There are a load of rules in the UK when it comes to number plates. First off every vehicle needs to have a number plate – displayed on the front and back (not motorbikes though which only has to be on the back) for identification.

It’s serious too because you could be fined up to £1,000 and your car will fail its MOT test if you drive incorrectly displayed number plates.

The current vehicle registration number format was introduced in 2001. It consists of:

  • Two letters (these refer to the region in the country where your vehicle was first registered)
  • Two numbers (these tell you when it was issued)
  • Three letters chosen at random

personalised number plate

Other things you need to ensure your number plates are legal:

  • Your vehicle must be registered through the DVLA by submitting the correct documents and paying associated fees.
  • You need a certificate of registration or entitlement issues upon completion of the registration process for a new number plate.
  • A certificate of retention is issued upon completion of the registration process for an existing or pre-owned number plate. The registration expires after six months, and the process must be completed again if you want if to keep the number plate after that.

Another thing – you can’t make the vehicle look newer than it actually is. For example, you can’t put a ’07’ registration number onto a 2003 registered vehicle.

You will need to purchase the new plates from a registered number plate supplier, who will make sure the personalised number plates are made correctly – well, legally.

personalised number plate

Number Plate Display Requirements

Number plates have to look a certain way – no Comic Sans sorry!

All personalised number plates which have been issued after 2001 must conform to the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulation 2001.

When buying any number plate – including a personalised one, you must make sure the number plate conforms to these regulations.

If your motor has a number plate issued before 200, you can continue to use those number plates, even though they may not conform to the regulations.

Do personalised number plates affect insurance?

It’s very much up to the specific insurer as to if you’ll end up paying extra (if you’re unhappy – you can always switch!)

That said, you DO have to tell your insurer so you don’t invalidate your cover and it may also be a good idea to take out insurance on your personalised number too, in case it is stolen.

If you were to write off your car and make an insurance claim, you’d get the entire cost of a car back, BUT the insurer will own the motor and therefore the number plate registered with it.

personalised number plate

In simple terms, what this means is that you’ll have to buy back the plate off the insurer – with the fee capped at the settlement price. If they have already got rid of the car, you’ll have to track it down to get the plate back.

You will then need to organise for it to be transferred to another vehicle or retained on a certificate in sufficient time before the claim is settled.

The thing is, registration numbers move with the vehicle they are assigned to, not the person who bought it.

So if you want to retain ownership of a personalised number plate you’ll need to ensure your insurance provider knows that in the even of the car being stolen or written-off, you will want to keep it.

From then, it is wise to get a letter from your insurance provider confirming that the

When you inform your broker that your registration number has changed, it’s also a good idea to obtain a letter from them confirming that they have no interest in the licence plate.

How much does it cost to transfer license plates?

If you do decide to take off a personalised number plate to sell or transfer to someone else, it is going to cost you (it’s not the end of the world though). When not registered to a vehicle a private number plate is held on a retention certificate, which costs £105 to do.


That said, certificates do have a time limit though, so if you do want to extend this expiry, you will need to pay an annual fee of around £25 a year (plus admin fee) if a third party has supplied the personalised number plate to you.

You can apply online or by post to do this if you want to take off a number plate. It costs £80. You must have the vehicles log book (V5C).

Can I keep my personalised licence plate if I decide to sell my car?

Yes, if you’ve bought a personalised number plate from the DVLA or a private dealer, you can keep it when you decide to sell your car. The car needs to be registered with the DVLA, can move under its own power and is taxed or has a SORN for the last five years continuously.

You’ll need to fill out a V317 form to let the authorities know that the plate is to be taken off a vehicle.

personalised number plate

Now and then the DVLA will decide it needs to inspect the car before it can remove the number plate so will inform you if this is the case.

It costs about £80 to get a number plate taken off, and you’ll also have to pay any new plates made up. If you’re transferring your personalised number plate to a new vehicle, you’ll need its V5C registration certificate or the V5C/2 new keeper’s section or the previous owner’s V5C if you’ve only just bought it.

You don’t have to put it on another car either. You can just keep the personalised number plate for up to 10 years without registering it to a new vehicle.

You just go through the same application process to remove the plate as if you were going to put it on a new car, but fill out the section regarding retailing the number plate rather than transferring it – it still costs the same £80.

Just in case anyone is like, ‘OMG – does she realise they aren’t British number plates in the pictures?!’ Yes, I know! Good luck finding free pictures of cars with British number plates. ha. They don’t exist and I don’t want to be sued.’

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