Car Ownership 101: What Are Private Reg Plates & Are They Worth it?

Regardless of whether you have just passed your test or you have been driving for a while, owning your own car is a pretty big deal. It provides you with a level of independence knowing you can get to a place when you need to. Instead of being reliant on other people or public transport, you are free to come and go as you wish. Cars are often seen as status symbols, and everyone wants to have a nice car, depending on what their budget allows, of course. If you want to spruce up your car or personalize it a little, then you could always consider a private reg plate. Read on to learn more.ย 

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Private Plates Explained

A private plate is rather self-explanatory to a certain extent. It is a plate that you have bought to put on your car to replace the number plate that came with the vehicle. There are several different versions of private plates to choose from. The current system came into effect in the year 2001. Number plates in this style are made up of seven characters which are a mix of letters and numbers. They consist of two letters, then two numbers and finally three more letters. The numbers are used to denote the age of the vehicle. 

Before the current style, there was another, which was in effect from the early eighties until 2001. This is often referred to as the prefix style. They, like the current style, begin and end with letters. The first character is a letter, which is what was initially used to date the vehicle; they are then followed by up to three numbers before ending in three letters, much like todayโ€™s style of number plate. Before this style, came the suffix style, which was in effect for twenty years from the early sixties until the early eighties. Plates issued before this time did not follow any specific format. The suffix style has three letters, then up to three numbers followed by a final letter, and it was the last letter that denoted the age of the vehicle in these cases. 

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You can buy a private plate which follows any of these styles (provided that it is not newer than your vehicle); however, depending on the style, the expense can vary dramatically. Often the older style or a number plate which doesnโ€™t follow one of the formats is more expensive simply because they can be more minimal and follow any format that you choose as opposed to being restricted by the current style of licence plates. 

How Much Does a Private Plate Cost?

It is hard to give an exact estimate on how much you can expect to pay because there are a lot of variables to consider. As mentioned above, the style of the licence plate will be one of the biggest deciding factors in how much you can expect today. Finding a personalised plate in the current style is going to be cheaper because they are far more accessible and readily available. Conversely, the older plates are more expensive. The buying method is also going to affect how much you can expect to pay. For example, purchasing from a business like Regtransfers provides you with the option of buying immediately or going to auction. If you choose to go to auction, then the price is more likely to be driven up by other bidders meaning that you might have to pay more than you would to purchase outright. Of course, if the plate doesnโ€™t have many bids, then you could also get it for a steal. 

Things to be Aware of When Purchasing a Private Plate

There are a few things that you ought to be aware of when purchasing a private registration plate for your vehicle. They obviously will need to subscribe to one of the formats described above, but in addition to this, there are a few rules that you should be mindful of. Firstly, the plates come as is; you cannot alter them in any way, shape or form, which means that they need to remain the same in terms of font and size. The characters need to be the same. You cannot adjust the message; some people place tape or even bolts to change the look of the plate; this is illegal. You also cannot purchase plates which make your vehicle look newer or younger than it actually is. Doing any of these things is against the law, and if caught, you can expect to experience consequences. 

Can I Transfer My Personalised Plate Onto Future Cars?

Once you have purchased a private reg plate, it is yours; you own it. What you do with it after the fact is up to you. Some people like to display them. Others obviously have purchased them to go on their cars. The plate does not need to remain on the car that you have purchased it. You can use the private plate on any subsequent car that you own. This does not mean that you can simply swap the plates over. They will need to be registered properly each time they go on a new vehicle. Luckily, the process is outlined on the DVLA website, and it is pretty easy to do. You will need proof of purchase for the plates and a V750. Follow the instructions on the site to register the plates. The car that you want to put the plates on will need to fulfil a list of criteria. If you do swap plates, remember to keep the old plates because they will need to be restored if and when you choose to sell the car. 

Can I Put Private Plates on a Car I Donโ€™t Actually Own?

Truthfully, if you own the car outright after having paid off the finance in its entirety or purchased the car outright to begin with, then the process of installing private plates is easier. That being said, you can still put private plates on a car that you have on finance or are leasing to own, but the application process is a little longer and more complicated. This is because you do not technically own your vehicle until you have paid it off; the finance company owns it. Therefore, before you can progress any further with the application, you first need to ask their permission. If they deny your request, then the car has to keep its original number plates until the vehicle has been paid off and ownership has been transferred to you. If they do approve your request, then you can move forward with the application process. The biggest difference is that you will need to include the name of the finance company as the nominee instead of yourself โ€“ because, again, they are the ones that own the vehicle. 

The Bottom Line

Personalised plates are a great way to inject a little personality into your vehicle. You can choose to buy them for yourself or as a gift for someone else. They can really spruce up any vehicle that they are put on too. There are a lot of options to consider too; you can find something really unique. The process of swapping the plates over is pretty straightforward too. Remember to keep ahold of the old plates, too, because they will likely need to go back on the car at some point when you decide to sell or scrap it. 

Krystal | Sunny Sweet Days
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