Personalised car plates are regulated by the DVLA, which is a government organisation that stands for ‘Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’. In fact, they do regulate all car plates. But if you want a private one with a bit more ‘personality’ you’ll have to follow a few rules to get one.

Can you create your own number plate in the UK?

Yes, you can create a personalised car plate in this country, as long as it complies with UK car plate rules.

Private Number Plate rules in the UK

First and foremost, all number plates – personalised or not – must use the standard font that’s used in the country for car registration plates. They also need to meet these nationwide standards:

  • 79mm tall characters
  • 500mm wide characters (except number 1 or letter ‘l’)
  • 14mm character thickness
  • The space between characters must be 11mm
  • The space between the age identifier and random letters must be 33mm
  • Top, bottom and side margins must be 11mm
  • Vertical space between age identifier and random letters must be 19mm

This is to make sure the all number plates are easy to read and look the same. Approved reg plate suppliers will make sure these rules are met.

For private number plates you will also need to follow these extra rules:

  • You cannot assign a number starting with ‘Q’ or ‘NIQ’
  • You cannot put a private number on a ‘Q’ registered vehicle
  • You cannot use a private number that makes a vehicle look newer than it is – like an ’08’ registration number on a car registered in 2005

As you can see, the rules are quite strict and they don’t allow for a lot of creativity in terms of design and aesthetics. But there are still legally approved ways in which you can customise your private car plates if you are keen on customising the design as well as the chosen letters/numbers:

  • Borders – you can put a border around your number plate if it’s non-reflective and doesn’t interfere with any of the alphanumeric characters on it
  • Text – 3D text is legal and can look interesting on your reg plate. However, italics or different coloured text is not allowed
  • Flags – you can display a Union Jack, Cross of St. George, Cross of St Andrew or the Red Dragon of Wales flags. Just one of them and you’ll still need to display a ‘GB’ sticker if you’re driving your car abroad. European flags are no longer allowed

How to get a Private Number plate?

If you want to be the proud owner of personalised car plates you need to get them made by a registered number plate supplier. That can be either the DVLA or an authorised private dealer. To buy private plates you’ll need to show the supplier some proof of ID – driving licence, utility or council tax bill, bank or building society statement or national identity card -, and that you’re entitled to use that particular number plate. Then, you’re free to transfer the personalised plates to your car.

Buying a private number from the DVLA

Head over to DVLA Personalised Registrations to buy a new private number for your plates.

You can alternatively check numbers coming up for auction from the DVLA, this happens around 5 times a year. If there is a personalised number you’re interested in, then you can bid in person, by phone, in writing or online.

Once you’ve paid for your private number the DVLA will give you a V750 certificate of entitlement to prove that you have the right to put it on a vehicle.

Buying a personalised number from a private dealer

There are several private dealers authorised to sell private reg plates that comply with UK rules. And it’s also legal to buy these from another person. You just need to shop around a bit looking for what you want.

To top it all, most dealers will do the job of transferring the number to your vehicle for you. And if you just want to keep it or assign it yourself ask them for the V750 or V778.

How to assign a private number to a vehicle?

As soon as you’ve got your personalised number you can assign your plates to your vehicle. It’s easy but you will need one of these:

  • a V778 retention document or
  • a V750 certificate document or
  • an online reference number

You get one of these documents when you buy a number or take a number from another vehicle you own.

Applying to assign a number is free, simple and can be done online or by post. You’ll need the V5C – the vehicle’s logbook.

You can apply online or by post to assign a number if the vehicle is:

  • Registered to you
  • A used vehicle you’ve just bought – you’re going to have to wait until the DVLA sends you a new V5C in your name
  • Brand new – then give the dealer your V750 or V778 and ask them to apply
  • Registered to someone else and you want the private number to be sent to them

In case you already have a personalised number on your car plates you will need to apply to take it off first. If you don’t, you could lose the right to use that number in the future.

Once you’ve assigned a private number to your car you’ll receive a new V5C and you can then put the new number plates on the vehicle before you hit the road.

Remember to tell your insurance company about your new personalised number. And update your reg number where needed.

Head over to this guide on the UK Government website to apply.

How much is a personalised number plate in the UK?

There is no straight answer to this question, although you don’t need to be a millionaire to get a private number plate in the UK – unless you want one of the very few that go for incredibly high prices.

  • The most basic personalised registration plates sell between £150 and £350. These are the ones that keep the current two letters, two numbers, three letters format. As an example, if your name was Max you could have the plate ‘BV52 MAX’.
  • Triple letter combination at the beginning plates are a bit pricier – £200 to £600, depending on the popularity of the three-letter combo. These are the ones that could look like ‘KEN 444S’ if your name is Ken.
  • Triple letter combinations with prefix year letters are much rarer and can sell for anything between £200 and more than £60,000. An example of these would be something like ‘F5 BSH’.
  • If you want a number plate with just year numbers as a prefix – like ‘5 MAX’ – then you could spend anything int he region of £500 to £60,000, depending on how desirable, relevant and rare they are.
  • Two-letter suffix nominations with one single preceding number – like ‘5 MX’ – can be even pricier because of their rarity.
  • One-letter prefix combinations – such as P 22 – are the most expensive type of personalised number plates. They tend to be reserved for classic cars or very exclusive vehicles and the price can go from £15,000 to £500,000, for the most expensive.

If you’re thinking about getting your hands on a personalised registration plate you should take into account several factors that can influence their price:

  • The number ‘1’ at the start or the end tends to come with a premium.
  • Plates that don’t include year identifiers tend to sell for a lot more money than the ones that do.

Cherished number plates

A cherished number plate is a car registration plate that doesn’t necessarily fit into any category but is more sought after – and expensive – because of its uniqueness. It would be the case, for example, of ‘A1’, the very first UK number plate.

Frequently Asked Questions about Personalised Car Plates