It has been over twenty-five years since the private number plate was first launched and in that time, the DVLA have raised over £2 billion in revenue from them with over three million plates sold. At one time, a private plate was seen as something that only millionaires had or were a little ostentatious but today, anyone can own one with only a small investment. So are private plates still worth it?
In the numbers – If you happen to own one of the more unusual or coveted personalised registration plates, then you can certainly make a lot of money if you decide to sell them. The current record for a private plate is held by the plate ’25 O’ which sold for £518,000, beating the previous record for ‘F 1’ that sold for £440,000.
However, these UK records are a little modest when compared to some of the world record figures for private plates. Unsurprisingly, the record is held by plate ‘1’ that was bought by Saeed Khouri from Abu Dhabi for a small investment of £7 million. The auction that featured this plate sold a total of 90 license plates and made over £16 million.
An investment? – While most of us won’t ever own a private plate that can sell for that kind of money, they are still an investment. Car fanatics such as Chris Evans collect them and has been known to leave a note on the windscreen of a car when he sees a plate he loves to see if the owner wants to sell it. Generally, the shorter the plate, the higher the price while ones that relate to common names can also fetch a good price. One plate reading ‘F14 MES’ was sold by a fireman in 2001 for £3500 and then sold again in 2013 for £7995 – a nice little profit. Of course, not all plates will make a profit in later years and there’s no real way of knowing what prove a good investment. That’s why people often choose plates for sentiment reasons, rather than in the hope that they become super valuable at some point.
Choosing a plate – There are rules about personalised registration plates that limit what you can and can’t do with one. There are four main plate styles at the moment:
- Dateless – 1 ABC or ABC 1
- Suffix style – ABC 123A
- Prefix style – A123 ABC
- Current style – AB12 ABC
If you have an idea for a private plate and want to know if it is available and in the right format, you can use the checker through the DVLA website where you can do a search on the plate. You can also check with companies that sell existing private plates to see if they have something that matches what you want.
Passing on a private plate – You can pass a private plate on from one vehicle to another by using the correct forms from the DVLA. You can also leave it in your will for someone when you die – otherwise, the plate will become inactive and cannot be used again in the future.