Since 1904, when the Motor Car Act was officially passed here in the United Kingdom, it has been compulsory for cars to display a number plate. Number plates were introduced to create a quick and simple way for authorities and other motorists to identify vehicles involved in crimes or collisions, and the same holds true today.
While all vehicles have an identifier stamped into their chassis along with other parts called a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), number plates are far easier to spot. Displayed in black characters on a white plate at the front, and on a yellow plate at the rear, they must always be clear to read.
Can you have the same number plate on two cars?
If number plates are registered to a specific keeper, you might be wondering ‘can two cars have the same number plate?’ Put simply, no. It’s illegal for two vehicles to carry the same plate. These registrations are designed to not only be able to trace the owner of a vehicle, but identify the car itself when necessary.
If you own two cars and you’re in the process of reassigning a personalised number plate from one vehicle to the other, you may also have questioned whether both can have the same plate. When you assign your plate to another vehicle, the car that originally carried the plate will revert to its previous registration or be assigned a new one by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Every car must always have a unique registration and no two vehicles can share the same one.
How do I swap number plates on my cars?
If you own more than one vehicle and wish to swap their number plates, you can do this via the DVLA, providing the plates are suitable for the cars in question. Modern number plates as well as older prefix and suffix style plates contain an age identifier. It’s against the law in the UK to make a vehicle appear newer than it is by adding a more recent plate, so drivers should be mindful of this when making a swap.
To swap a plate, you must first remove it from one vehicle and retain the registration. You can then assign it to another vehicle. This action can be performed by post, but the fastest way to complete the process is online with the DVLA, taking a matter of minutes rather than days. On successful completion of your application, the DVLA will then send you updated V5C logbooks for your cars by post.
How much does it cost to swap number plates?
While it won’t cost you anything to assign a number plate to a vehicle, removing the registration from a vehicle and retaining it comes with a charge. You can apply to remove and keep a registration through the DVLA for a fee of £80.
Duplicate plates and the law.
It’s an offence to use the same number plate on more than one car. In 2016, research by the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI) revealed that as many as one in 12 cars out of the 37 million used in the UK could potentially have cloned number plates.
Police data records motorists using illegal cloned plates to break a variety of laws, from smaller offences such as speeding and prohibited parking, to petrol theft, burglary and robbery. Criminals trading in cloned plates also create forged vehicle registration certificates (V5Cs) to accompany them. Those purchasing a vehicle are advised to always run a vehicle history check before buying.
You can ensure the number plate you’ve purchased is unique and not simply a copy by purchasing your registration from a reliable plate dealer like New Reg. All our plates are one of a kind and fully legal to use according to UK law.