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UK Number Plate Legal Requirements

UK Number Plate Legal Requirements

(Posted on 08/04/24)

Number plates are essential identifiers for vehicles, allowing authorities to track them in various situations, such as accidents or crimes. They typically consist of a combination of letters and numbers, unique to each vehicle.

To get a personalised number plate, also known as a private registration, you must follow specific legal requirements. These requirements often involve adhering to certain guidelines and ensuring the plate is not already in use or offensive.

Once you've chosen a personalised plate that meets the legal criteria, you can apply for it through your local vehicle registration authority or specialised agencies. This usually involves completing an application form and paying a fee.

Private number plates can vary widely in cost, ranging from a few hundred pounds to several hundred thousand pounds, depending on factors such as the specific combination of letters and numbers, the rarity of the plate, and its desirability.

When you purchase a new car, it typically comes with a standard number plate allocated to it by the vehicle registration authority. This standard number plate usually consists of a combination of letters and numbers that uniquely identify the vehicle.

So, what do all the letters and numbers on the number plate mean?

The initial two letters on a number plate, also referred to as the memory tag, denote the location where the vehicle was registered. The first letter indicates the local area, while the second letter identifies the specific DVLA office within that area where the registration occurred.

The two numbers in the middle of the registration plate identify the age of the vehicle.

The DVLA issues two lots of number plate combinations each year, with new registrations taking place on 1st March and 1st September. All plates issued between March 1 and the end of August will use the same two numbers as the year they are registered.

For example, a car registered in March 20424 would have the number “24” after the first two letters.

For vehicle register from September 1st, 2024, would have the number “74” after the first two letters.

The final letters at the end of a registration plate are typically chosen randomly to ensure each plate is unique. Letters like "I" and "Q" are often omitted to prevent confusion with numbers such as "1" and "0." Additionally, before issuing plates, the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) removes any combinations that could be considered offensive, ensuring that all plates meet regulatory standards and are suitable for public use.

Personalised Registration

Head to the DVLA website for more.

Legal requirements

If have a private plate you do need ensure it is all legal here is a list of some the key requirements (Check DVLA website for more information):

The Process


When purchasing your own personalised registration plate, you will receive a V750 Certificate of Entitlement upon completing the payment for the private registration plate. This certificate serves as proof of your entitlement to display the chosen number on a vehicle.

You have the option to acquire a private number either from a licensed dealer or from another individual. Many dealers offer the service of transferring the number directly to your vehicle upon purchase. However, if you prefer to handle the retention or assignment process yourself, it's advisable to inquire with the dealer about obtaining the V750 or V778 documents accordingly.


To assign a private (personalised) number to a vehicle if it is:

• If the registration is to be registered to you, you can apply online or by post.

• If you've recently purchased a used vehicle, wait for the DVLA to send you a new V5C document in your name before applying online or by post.

• For a brand-new vehicle, provide the dealer with your V750 or V778 document and request them to handle the application process.

• If the registration is currently registered to someone else and you wish to transfer the private number to yourself, you can apply online or by post.

You must renew your right to use the number every 10 years.

Check the DVLA to ensure it is legal and compliant.


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