A Guide to Personalised Number Plates

If you’ve always wanted a personalised licence plate, here’s a handy guide to what you need to know and do to make sure your new plate (and the car it goes on) is legal.

Since the early 1960s licence registration in the UK has come in three styles:

Suffix (1963 – 1983) where the single letter at the end identified the age of the vehicle

Prefix (1983 – 2001) where the age was identified by the single letter at the start of the plate

Current Style (since September 2001) where the two numbers in the middle identify the age

The DVLA began holding back licence plate numbers that had individual appeal in 1983 and then began selling them in 1989.


If you’re buying a personalised licence registration, the first thing you need to know is that you can only put a number on a vehicle of equal age or newer to that of the age identifier. For instance, you can’t put a Prefix number (A123 ABC) on a Current Style car. And if, for example, you wanted to buy DE11 BOY, you can only put it on a car made in March 2011 or after.


There are lots of registration number auction websites out there, and the DVLA itself has over 45 million for sale and runs its own auctions for the more highly sought after.

Once you buy a registration number, you’ll get a Certificate of Entitlement (V750), which you fill in and return to the DVLA to assign the number to a vehicle.

You’ll then need to purchase the new plates from a registered number plate supplier (and only a registered number plate supplier), who will ensure they are made to the correct legal standard, including colours, sizes and backgrounds.


It’s extremely important that you tell your insurance provider so that you’re covered on the new number should the police check or if ANPR is used anywhere. You’ll get points on your licence if you haven’t done this and it will affect your next policy quote.


The priciest personalised plate ever sold by the DVLA is ’25 O’, bought by Ferrari dealer John Collins in 2014 for £518,000. The plate is now thought to be attached to a Ferrari 250SWB once owned by Eric Clapton, which is worth around £10million.

The most expensive number plate in the world was bought in Abu Dhabi for £14million by Saeed Khouri at a charity auction. It simply reads: 1.

For you Only Fools and Horses fans, that DE11 BOY plate mentioned above sold for £35,000 to Chris Dawson, owner of The Range discount store chain.

Can we help you?

If you need motor trade cover of any kind, we can help. Request a quote and we’ll get in touch to give you a competitive price.

Share Article:

Browse other guides

A Motor Trader’s Guide to Buying Cars at Auction

Car auctions can be a little intimidating to newcomers, but once you’re comfortable they can be a lot of fun and make you some good money if you get the right motors at the right prices.

Selling Cars at Auction

What to consider when planning to sell cars at auction – including auction house commission fees and reserve prices.

Payment options for your motor trade insurance

Pay for your motor trade insurance in the way that suits you, with our range of payment and finance options.

Your Responsibilities As A Car Dealer

Your responsibilities to the customer under the Trade Descriptions Act and Consumer Rights Act.

How to become a motor trader

What you need to know, and do, before you set up as a motor trader – here’s our guide, with resources and links.