Car number plates, whether private or standard issue, simply provide a way to identify a vehicle, but personalised plates can mean a lot more to their owners than that.
Instead of a random combination of letters and numbers, a private number plate can reflect the occupation, name, initials, interests or even the personality of the motorist. With such a huge choice available, drivers who have private number plates are able to make a statement and stand out from others on the road.
There are various options when it comes to the format of a private number plate. Current, or new style, plates are the type currently being issued by the DVLA, and they start with a two-letter area code, showing where the vehicle was initially registered. The following two numbers reflect the age of the car, motorbike or van, and the three letters after the space are randomly selected, giving enough available combinations to ensure every number plate is unique.
Older types of private number plate also exist. Before the new style came the prefix style plate, and this type of registration started with a letter relating to the car’s age. Suffix plates preceded prefixes, and they ended in the year of registration. The oldest style of plates are dateless plates, and on these, either numbers or letters may appear first. These tend to be the most sought-after plates of all.
How much is it to get a private number plate?
The price of any private number plate is determined by a simple rule of economics; it will be worth the amount that someone would be willing to pay for it. As a general rule of thumb, the most popular plates are often those that feature common names or words. This is because a high number of people will want such a combination. An increased demand thus results in a higher price tag.
It’s not all about demand; supply also comes into the equation. Those plates that are in shorter supply will be more expensive. This is because – simply put – there are fewer of them to go round. In practice, the age of the plate has some bearing here. As the oldest plates are the rarest, they tend to be the most pricey.
How to get a private number plate off retention
If you own a private number plate that has not been in use for some time, then when you do want to use it you will need to know how to go about this. Fortunately, the procedure is extremely straightforward. Once you obtain the V778 retention document that confirms your right to use or sell the number plate in future, most of the work is done.
Assigning that number plate to a vehicle is very simple, as long as certain conditions are satisfied. Firstly, you cannot put a number plate on a vehicle if it would make the car or van appear newer than it really is. Secondly, you must have a current MOT and road tax, or a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN), for the relevant vehicle. The vehicle must also be available for inspection in case the DVLA decides to do this.
Assuming you satisfy these conditions, the procedure then depends on the vehicle. If it is a brand new car, the dealership should apply for you. Otherwise, you can apply online or by post as long as you have the V5C document (log book) as well as the retention certificate. Provided an inspection is not required, the registration will be assigned immediately when applying online, so make sure you have the new plates ready to fit before proceeding.