The RNPS - buying number plates from a DVLA registered supplier
This section covers all the information you need for the purchase, transfer and sale of personalised reg number plates including historic reg number data and frequently asked questions
If there is anything you need to discuss further, please contact the reg number experts in our admin department who will be happy to help.
Buyers Guide & General Information
1. What happens to my present registration number? Unless you want to pay the Department of Transport fee to retain it, the registration is automatically made void. In nearly all cases the old registration will be retuned to your vehicle if you remove the personalised number plate at a later date. This returns the vehicle back to its original reg plate. You simply remove the old plates and fit the new ones at the time we advise.
2. Why are some prices subject to VAT? If the registration is actually owned by Regplates or is a government issue, VAT sometimes has to be added. Registrations not subject to VAT are usually being sold on a commission basis. Please call us or email to check on specific number plates.
3. Why have I seen the same number plate advertised in other places?
Regplates have an extensive dealer network and we send a list of our number plates to other dealers. This guarantees maximum exposure. Of course if you buy direct from Regplates the price will be cheaper.
4. What happens to my payment if I change my mind before the transfer has been completed and I no longer want the registration I have agreed to purchase from you? We expect all purchase agreements to be honoured, just as you shall expect us to honour our terms of business. However, we do recognise that situations can change and we shall endeavour to advertise and sell the registration on your behalf after it has been transferred to your vehicle or payment has been made in full.
5. Can I pay by methods other than credit card? Yes. You may pay by Cheque, Transfer Credit or Bankers Draft.
6. I paid a part payment by credit card and now I wish to pay the rest by credit card also. Is this okay? Yes. You may pay the remainder of the outstanding purchase amount by credit card. Regplates accepts most major credit and debit cards.
7. What does DVLA, VRO and DOT stand for? Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, Vehicle Registration Office, Department Of Transport.
8. My V5 document says my registration number is non-transferable. Can I transfer a Cherished Number onto my vehicle? Yes. Although you cannot transfer or retain a non-transferable number, the vehicle can receive a registration number providing the non-transferable number is not a "Q" mark and providing the vehicle meets the normal conditions of the Sales, Transfer and Retention schemes.
9. Why are some transfers faster than others? If you are buying a vehicle mark that has previously never been issued or assigned to a vehicle the transfer time is usually between 3 and 10 days. The reason for the speed in which marks of this nature may be transferred is due to the fact that there is no donor vehicle to be inspected by the Department Of Transport.
Where a mark has been previously assigned to another vehicle there may be a need to arrange an inspection of the donor vehicle prior to completing the transfer. In order to make a vehicle ready for transfer the donor vehicle must be taxed and hold a current MOT certificate, these documents may take a few weeks to acquire from the donor.
In addition to the time required to obtain donor documents the governing bodies themselves require ample time to process transfer applications. The average transfer time requested by the governing bodies is two to three weeks. As you can see, whilst every attempt is made by us to perform the fastest possible transfer time delays may be out of our control.
10. How can I find out about the status of my transfer? Regplates will keep you informed of the progress of the transfer but please feel free to contact us at any time during office hours (9am to 8pm) for a progress report. Telephone number 01482 627 628.
11. Do Regplates provide the acrylic plates?
These are not included within the purchase price but we can arrange the number plates to be sent to you for an additional cost.
12. Does the recipient vehicle need to be inspected?
Not usually. However, if for example there was a change of construction of the vehicle the authorities may then want to inspect it. You would be notified if this was necessary.
13. Are there any restrictions to the transfer of a number with a year letter?
You cannot make a vehicle look newer than it actually is by transferring a younger year letter. For example JON 123W cannot be transferred to a vehicle originally registered as ABC 123C as this would make it look younger. However, it is possible to transfer it to JON 123X as the recipient vehicle would be newer than the donor registration. The same applies to prefix plates but vehicle registration numbers that do not contain a year identifier may be assigned to a vehicle of any age.
14. How long does a transfer take? The average time scale is 3 - 10 working days however many of our transfers are completed much faster. We ensure that every transfer is expedited as quickly as possible. However, it should be noted that the transfer cannot be started until we receive the required documents. Please note that whilst we take all reasonable care of your documents, we cannot expect any responsibility for their safety once passed into the hands of the Department of Transport, although it must be said that it is extremely rare for them to lose documents.
15. What happens if I need to tax or MOT my vehicle while the transfer is being processed? This presents no problem to Regplates, you simply send the appropriate fee, your insurance certificate or cover note and the tax application to us, ensuring that you state the old registration number on the application form. In the case of a new MOT, again you must ensure that the garage MOT the vehicle under the old mark and send the certificate to us immediately, with a covering note informing us of the registration mark you are purchasing. We shall have the MOT amended accordingly as and when it is appropriate during the transfer procedure.
16. Is it possible to transfer a mark to a vehicle with a "Q" mark? Transfers are not possible to "Q" registered vehicles.
17. Do I have to keep the registration on my vehicle for a certain time before I can transfer it again? There are no time restrictions and transferring a mark is a simple procedure which may be applied for yourself. Please note that any mark purchased from us must not be offered for re-sale until our transaction with you has been finalised.
18. If the recipient already has a mark can I transfer both at the same time? Yes. This is called a double transfer. It presents no problem for Regplates but you shall need to immediately supply us with the documents of the third vehicle involved and an extra £80 cheque payable to the Department of Transport. Although this creates more work for us, we do not make any extra charge. If no third vehicle is available then the mark can normally be retained on a Department of Transport retention certificate in accordance with the governing Regulations. The current fee is £25, (plus the £80 transfer fee).
19. If my vehicle is new and not registered can I transfer a number onto it? Yes, this does not normally create a problem. Regplates shall require the form V55 from your supplying garage (certain vehicle franchises will NOT release V55 documents, some franchises use the next digital system - it is prudent to check with the vehicle supplier first) plus your insurance certificate and cheque payable to Department of Transport for the road tax and £80 transfer fee. Due to the fact that the transfer time is uncertain it may be more appropriate to have a year related plate assigned by the garage supplying the vehicle. By opting for this solution you shall have full use of the vehicle whilst the transfer is taking place.
20. Can I ask Regplates to try and obtain an un-issued prefix combination? Yes. However in any event it is at the sole discretion of the governing bodies. If a specific personalised number plate combination has not been released previously, we can apply to put it into a DVLA number plate auction. This process can take upto 6 months but is a great way of getting hold of your perfect plate!
21. I have seen my own registration number being offered for sale on the Regplates web site and do not recall giving authority, why is it listed?
Regplates provide details of the many available marks Nationwide. In addition to selling thousands of our own stock items we also hold many public commissions and the stock and commissions of many other dealers throughout the UK. Occasionally, records are miss-typed and appear as an alternative combination that is in fact not for sale. Also there are circumstances where a recently acquired mark is still on our database due to the fact that the donor has failed to advise us of the sale and subsequent non-availability. If you have recently noted that your mark is listed and wish to provide us with further information or wish us to remove it from the web site, please send us an email to not forgetting to specify the registration in question and the validation character off your V5 (log book) for confirmation.
22. What do I get for my money when I buy a previously unissued mark? Registration numbers are not items of property so you cannot buy legal title to them. What you pay for is the assignment right to the particular number. The sale involves a legally binding contract between the Secretary of State and the purchaser for an agreed price. The purchaser is granted the right to assign the number to a vehicle registered in his/her own name, or that of his/her nominee where applicable, within a 12 month period. The assignment right is granted to the purchaser alone and it is non-transferable - the nominee has no rights to the number.
In addition to the agreed sale price, an assignment fee (currently £80) is payable at the time of purchase. Buyers are issued with a V750 Certificate of Entitlement, valid for 12 months, which records details of the registration number, the purchaser and nominee details where supplied at the time of purchase. If, after you have received your certificate, you wish to add or change nominee details, you will need to apply to DVLC, returning your certificate together with a fee of £25 sterling.
If you do not wish to assign the number within the 12 month period, you can apply to extend your assignment rights annually. There will be a charge of £50 for each extension.
23. What if my vehicle is stolen and not recovered?
If your vehicle is stolen and has not been recovered after a year you can apply to have its registration number re-assigned to your replacement vehicle providing certain conditions are met. In order to qualify for the concession, the theft must have been notified to the police and recorded at DVLC as stolen for not less than 12 months. In addition, at the time of the theft the vehicle must have had a current test pass certificate and have had a current vehicle excise License (tax disc). The Agency will also require a letter from your insurers confirming that they have no objection to the number being re-issued. This must be provided because once insurers have settled your claim, they have a rightful claim to the vehicle should it be recovered.
24. What if my vehicle is "written off"? A write-off happens when a damaged vehicle is judged by insurers to be beyond economic repair. In such a case, the insurance company agrees a pay-out with the insured, and legal ownership of the vehicle then passes to the insurance company. The company is then free to sell the vehicle as salvage and the purchaser may repair it and put it back on the road.
If your vehicle is written off, you may still apply to transfer or retain its number providing:
A) The vehicle is available for inspection.
B) You can satisfy all the conditions of the transfer or retention schemes.
IMPORTANT: It is essential that you discuss your cherished registration number with your insurers at the outset. You will need to ensure they are aware that in the event of a write-off, the vehicle must be made available for inspection by governing bodies if you are to transfer or retain the number. If your insurers settle your claim and sell the vehicle as salvage before the number is properly transferred or retained, the mark will pass with the vehicle to the new keeper and you will lose your entitlement. You will also lose entitlement if the vehicle is sent for scrapping before the number is transferred or retained.
Once you have successfully transferred or retained your registration number from the written off vehicle, let your insurers know about the change of number and send them the amended V5 registration document. If your insurers intend to sell the write-off as salvage, the vehicle must display the replacement registration number.
25. What if my vehicle has been scrapped? Scrapping occurs when a vehicle, whether an insurance write-off or not, is broken up for spares or otherwise destroyed. Once a vehicle ceases to exist its registration number is cancelled.
If your vehicle has been scrapped, you will not be able to transfer its registration number.
The person who actually breaks up or destroys the vehicle must notify the governing bodies that the vehicle has been scrapped and return the V5 registration document.
The prospect of entrusting a relative stranger with cash and valuable documents before the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) have authorised your chosen registration to be displayed on your vehicle can be daunting.
Although you can arrange the transfer of a registration number yourself by direct application to the DVLA, the process of finding a suitable registration and then ensuring that all legal and Department of Transport requirements are complied with can make the whole business complex and time consuming.
Opting for a dealer with MIRAD & APRT membership assures you of their proven experience and efficiency in handling the formalities for you.
Where Did It All Begin?
Number plates were first issued in 1903 when Earl Russell was assigned the highly prestigious mark A1 to his Napier motor car by London County Council.
The Ultimate Numberplate?
A1 assigned in 1903
Even in the early days, people recognised the significance and enjoyment brought by owning a prestigious or personalised number plate and often kept them within the family for many years. Their significance is often highly personalised to their owners. Some like to have a registration that originated in their local area, some are attracted to owning their own initials and others enjoy the fun of a word based registration mark.
Registrations that are car related always prove popular such as 45 TON on an Aston Martin DB6
Since their humble beginning in 1903, cherished numbers have continued to increase in popularity often adding the finishing touch to our prized possessions and very often prove to be a valuable investment.
The Motor Car Act 1903, which came into force on 1 January 1904, required all motor vehicles to be entered on an official vehicle register, and to carry number plates. The Act was passed in order that vehicles could be easily traced in the event of an accident or contravention of the law. Vehicle registration number plates in the UK are rectangular or square in shape, with the exact permitted dimensions of the plate and its lettering set down in law.
Registration Number Plates Buyers Guide Links
Regplates Youtube guide on how to correctly fit number plates.
Below are links to our other buyer information pages for our registration number plate customers.
Within the UK itself there are currently two numbering and registration systems: one for Great Britain, which is administered by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), and one for Northern Ireland, administered by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA): both have equal status.
The current system for Great Britain was introduced on 1 September 2001. Each registration index consists of seven characters with a defined format.
From left to right, the characters consist of:
A local memory tag or area code, consisting of two letters which together indicate the local registration office. The letters I, Q and Z are not used in this code;
The first of these two letters is a mnemonic standing for the name of the broad area where the registration office is located. This is intended to make the registration more memorable than an arbitrary code. For example, A is used as the first character in all registrations issued by the three offices located in the vicinity of East Anglia;
A two-digit age identifier, which changes twice a year, in March and September. The code is either the last two digits of the year itself (e.g. "05" for 2005) if issued between March and August, or else has 50 added (e.g. 55 for September 2005) if issued between September and February the following year;
A three-letter sequence which uniquely distinguishes each of the vehicles displaying the same initial four-character area and age sequence. The letters I and Q are excluded from the three-letter sequence, as are combinations that may appear offensive (including those in foreign languages).
This scheme has three particular advantages:
A buyer of a second-hand vehicle can in theory determine the year of first registration of the vehicle without having to look it up,
In the case of a police investigation of an accident or vehicle-related crime, witnesses usually remember the initial area code letters — it is then quite simple to narrow down suspect vehicles to a much smaller number by checking the authority's database without having to know the full number.
The scheme should have sufficient numbers to run until 2050.
Dateless Number Plates 1903 - 1963
The first series of number plates were issued in 1903 and ran until 1932, using the series A 1 to YY 9999. The letter or pair of letters indicated the local authority in whose area the vehicle was registered, for example A – London, B – Lancashire, C – West Riding of Yorkshire. In England and Wales the letter codes were initially allocated in order of population size (by the 1901 census) whilst Scotland and Ireland had their own sequences incorporating the letters "S" and "I" respectively, which were allocated alphabetically: IA = Antrim, IB = Armagh, etc. When a licensing authority reached 9999, it was allocated another two letter mark, but there was no pattern to these subsequent allocations as they were allocated on a first come first served basis. There are three interesting anomalies where a zero has been issued – The Lord Provost of Edinburgh has S 0 and his Glasgow counterpart has G 0 while the official car of the Lord Provost of Aberdeen has RG 0. In addition the Lord Mayor of London has the registration LB 0.
By 1932, the available numbers within this scheme were running out, and an extended scheme was introduced. This scheme consisted of three letters and up to three digits, taken from the series AAA 1 to YYY 999. The letters I, Q, and Z were never used, as they were considered too easy to mistake for other letters or numbers or were reserved for special use, such as the use of I and Z for Irish registrations and Q for temporary imports. (After independence, the Republic of Ireland continued to use this scheme until 1986, and Northern Ireland still uses it.)
The three-letter scheme preserved the area letter codes as the second pair of letters in the set of three, and the single letter area codes were deleted (since prefixing a single letter code would create a duplicate of a two-letter code). In some areas, the available numbers with this scheme started to run out in the 1950s, and in those areas, a reversed sequence was introduced, i.e. 1 AAA to 999 YYY. The ever-increasing popularity of the car can be gauged by noting that these sequences ran out within ten years, and by the beginning of the 1960s, a further change was made in very popular areas, introducing 4-number sequences with the one and two letter area codes, but in the reverse direction to the early scheme (i.e. 1 A to 9999 YY). Often number plates were on hinges, as petrol tank caps were located under the number plates on some cars.
Suffix Number Plates 1963 - 1982
In 1963, numbers were running out once again, and an attempt was made to create a national scheme to alleviate the problem. The three letter, up to three number system was kept, but a letter suffix was added, which changed every year. In this scheme, numbers were drawn from the range AAA 1A to YYY 999A for the first year, then AAA 1B to YYY 999B for the second year, and so on. Some areas did not adopt the year letter for the first two years, sticking to their own schemes, but in 1965 adding the year letter was made compulsory.
As well as yielding many more available numbers, it was a handy way for vehicle buyers to know the age of the vehicle immediately. At first the year letter changed on 1 January every year, but car retailers started to notice that buyers would tend to wait until the New Year for the new letter to be issued, so that they could get a "newer" car. This led to major peaks and troughs in sales over the year, and to help flatten this out somewhat the industry lobbied to get the month of registration changed from January to August. This was done in 1967, a year that had two letter changes: "E" came in January, and "F" came in August.
Prefix Number Plates 1983 - 2001
By 1982, the year suffixes had reached Y and so from 1983 onwards the sequence was reversed again, so that the year letter — starting again at "A" — preceded the numbers then the letters of the registration. The available range was then A21 AAA to Y999 YYY, the numbers 1–20 being held back for the government's proposed, and later implemented, DVLA select registration sales scheme. Towards the mid-1990s there was some discussion about introducing a unified scheme for Europe, which would also incorporate the country code of origin of the vehicle, but after much debate such a scheme was not adopted due to lack of countries willing to participate. The changes in 1983 also brought the letter Q into use – although on a very small and limited scale. It was used on vehicles of indeterminate age, such as those assembled from kits, substantial rebuilds, or imported vehicles where the documentation is insufficient to determine the age. There was a marked increase in the use of Q registrations in the late 1980s and early 1990s, fuelled by car crime. Many stolen vehicles had false identities given to them, and when this was discovered and the original identity could not be determined, a Q registration would be issued to that vehicle. It was seen as an aid to consumer protection.
It should be noted that the date denoted by a registration plate is the date a vehicle was first imported into the United Kingdom and registered with that registration system. For instance a vehicle manufactured in say 1991 and registered in Northern Ireland might have been given a 1993 registration letter when it was registered on the Swansea system. This also applies to vehicles imported from other countries. This is apparent by examining the registration document which will show a date of manufacture different from the date of first registration. The date of manufacture is notional, though, as vehicles may be manufactured and stored unused, for many years in some cases, and then registered as new when first registered into the system. This allows manufacturers to sell cars as new allowing for shipping, storing at dockyards etc.
In 1989 a lot of these stored old models were registered in advance of legislation that required all new vehicles registered on or after 1 January 1990 to have catalytic converters fitted. This included vehicles held in storage and out of production for several years, in some cases five years or more.
By the late 1990s, the range of available numbers was once again starting to run out, exacerbated by a move to biannual changes in registration letters (March and September) in 1999 to smooth out the bulge in registrations every August, so a new scheme needed to be adopted. It was decided to research a system that would be easier for crash or vehicle related crime witnesses to remember and clearer to read, yet still fit within a normal standard plate size.
Current Issue Number Plates 2001 on
The current format of number plates started in September 2001 with the '51' number identifier as shown in the 'DE51YRE' example above. The idea was to make vehicles easily identifiable and to allow 2 changes per year instead of the traditional one issue per year. This took pressure away from car dealers and diluted the rush with registering all new vehicles at the same time. This new format created several million new combinations offering scope for specific unreleased numbers to be purchased.
Northern Ireland Transfers
The transfer of number plates to Northern Ireland forms part of the cherished transfer scheme with a couple of differences. A number plate that is on a UK mainland vehicle can be transferred at the normal rate (currently £80) to a NI vehicle and the same is true in reverse for NI to UK transfers. If a number plate is held on a retention certificate (V778 / V750) then it must first be assigned to a UK mainland vehicle and then transferred to NI. The same is true of NI retention certificates.
This adds extra fees and time to the transfer process. Regplates currently offer the Northern Ireland transfer service for £100 plus the extra £80 DVLA fee, total £180. This service is open to our customers only.
If you purchase them through a non registered supplier, your car many not pass an MOT and the number plates may not be road legal.
As Regplates is a DVLA registered number plate supplier (license number 47727) we can physically supply road legal number plates in line with all DVLA & MOT regulations.
Regplates offers a fully independent and widely recognised Valuation Service for vehicle registration marks.
You will receive a certificate which is accepted for insurance, probate or evaluation purposes. Clients wishing to insure can obtain full details of insurance and a proposal form upon request. Ideal when selling your personalised number plate.
Standard Certificate available one month from application £25 inc VAT
Standard Re-Valuation Certificate available one month from application £20 inc VAT
Express 1 Certificate available in less than 14 days from application £35 +VAT
Express 2 Certificate available in less than 48 hours from application £50 +VAT
Express 3 Certificate available same day as application £75 +VAT