The Growth in Popularity of Personalised Number Plates

personalised number plates

There was a time when you would rarely see a personalised number plate on Britain’s roads. When you did see one, it would often be on an ultra-expensive car in an exclusive location. Now, personalised registrations are everywhere.

Some sell for huge amounts of money, including those that have price tags counted in the hundreds of thousands of pounds. However, the majority of the personalised registrations you see on your commute to work or during your weekend drives were probably bought for a lot less – hundreds of pounds instead of thousands.

Before exploring some of the reasons why personalised number plates are so popular, let’s first look at the sales numbers to get an understanding of just how significant the growth rate really is.

Annual Sales of Personalised Number Plates

Over recent years, the growth in popularity of personalised number plates has been consistent. When you look at the figures, that’s not even the most interesting part. The more interesting element is how much more popular they have become.

For example, the amount of money raised by the DVLA through the sale of personalised number plates more than doubled over three years, reaching over £162 million in the 2017/18 financial year.

This only accounts for sales by the DVLA, which only sells new personalised number plates (those that have never been issued before). There are sales of personalised number plates on the private market to add to the figures reported by the DVLA. While we don’t know the exact figure this amounts to, the total sales in 2017/18 of personalised registrations was considerably more than £162 million.

What about growth rate? To see the rate of growth of personalised registrations, you only have to look at the DVLA’s figures:

  • 2014/15 financial year – sales worth £80 million
  • 2015/16 financial year – sales worth £97 million
  • 2016/17 financial year – sales worth £110 million
  • 2017/18 financial year – sales worth £162 million

So, not only are sales of personalised number plates higher than they have ever been, but the rate of growth is high too – 47 percent in 2017/18 compared to 21 percent in 2015/16.

Why Personalised Number Plates Are So Popular

So, why are personalised number plates so popular? What are the reasons for car owners deciding to buy a personalised number plate? Why is the rate of sales growth increasing? Here are some of the answers.

Buying a Personalised Number Plate is an Investment

One of the main motivations for people to buy a personalised number plate is to get something unique. The value of many personalised number plates increases over time.

This leads to many people viewing the purchase of a personalised number plate as being an investment similar to investing in a watch or a case of wine. In addition, depending on the registration, that investment could last a lifetime.

The DVLA started selling personalised registrations in the late 1980s, with many private dealers at the time fearing the increase in registrations available on the market would lead to a general devaluing of all registrations. The opposite has happened, with the prices of personalised number plates increasing steadily over time.

Personalised Registrations Are Not Just for the Super Rich

Another reason that personalised number plates are increasingly popular is they are not just for rich people to put on very expensive cars. The reality is there are excellent registrations available for a couple of hundred pounds.

Of course, there are some that sell for thousands of pounds, but according to the DVLA, 90 percent of the personalised number plates available on its website are for sale for less than £1,000.

The situation is similar for private sellers even though they often offer more exclusive registrations. In other words, you don’t need to be super rich to have a personalised number plate, wherever you make the purchase from. This makes them accessible to more people.

More Personalised Number Plates on the Road Leads to More Personalised Number Plates Being Sold

The market for personalised number plates feeds itself.

There is unlikely to ever be a time when the number of personalised registrations comes close to the number of standard registrations on the road. This maintains the exclusivity of owning a personalised plate.

That said, the more that are available, the more that sell. This is probably because we now see personalised registrations more often when out and about on the road, reminding us how good they look and making us want one even more.

Personalised Registration Are an Innovative Marketing Tool

There is also a niche use for personalised registrations that is contributing to their growth in popularity. Over recent years, we have seen an increase in businesses investing in personalised number plates to use on their vehicles. These registrations often carry the name of the business or another marketing message.

This makes personalised number plates a very cost effective yet eye catching advertising and marketing tool.

What the Future Holds

There is no indication anywhere in the market that there is a slow down in the popularity of personalised plates. The most exclusive options continue to sell for significant sums of money. In addition, the DVLA and private sellers continue to report strong growth in sales, and we see personalised registrations more and more on Britain’s roads.

The fact is, our attractions to cars in the UK goes deeper than simply having a mode of transport to get us from point A to B. Instead, the car we have in the driveway is an extension of our personality, and we care about how it looks.

For those who invest in a personalised number plate, getting a unique and meaningful registration is an essential finishing touch.