Personalised Number Plates Buying Guide

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Personalised Number Plates Buying Guide

Vehicle number plates display the registration information of a vehicle in the United Kingdom. There are two main vehicle plate numbering and registration systems in Great Britain, which are controlled by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), and in Northern Ireland, administered by the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA). The agencies have set specific standards for number plates, dictating the dimensions of the number plate and lettering type and size. Although UK plates have to match strict number and character combinations, there are some plates that contain names, words, or phrases, which are referred to as "personalised plates". Personalised plates allow a consumer and a vehicle to stand out from all of the other number plates.

While the majority of consumers purchase number plates for use and registration purposes, some choose to purchase fun personalised plates for a collection. There are a couple of different options when buying personalised number plates. Many purchase registration numbers directly from the DVLA's Personalised Registrations service. DVLA plate offerings are limited since they are only able to sell unused plates. Other personalised plates are purchased through private dealers and auctions. Most dealers allow the use of databases to search the available personalised number plates for registration. eBay also offers numerous options when it comes to purchasing personalised number plates. Choose a personalised number plate that meets the desired style, theme, and budget.

History of UK Number Plates

The number plates system has existed in the United Kingdom since 1903. The Motor Car Act of 1903 required all motor vehicles to display number plates and enter a vehicle register. The purpose of the act was to increase identification efficiency, in the case of an accident or traffic violation.

Style of Personalised Number Plates

There are five different styles of personalised number plates available including: dateless, suffix, prefix,, current,, or Irish. Since registration numbers were introduced in 1903, the format has changed over the years, chronologically creating different styles. These different styles were created because they included new possible sequences, since other sequences were used up in the previous format.

Style Name

Originally Issued




Most desirable and expensive style

Contains one or two words that are easily identifiable

Includes the single number and single letter combinations

No date identifier



Desirable word combinations since letters are in the front

Contains a year identifier at the end



Popular because of their availability

They are more valuable than current plates and contain a year identifier at the front

Current or new


Relatively cheap

Contain a year identifier and local identifier so they are less likely to create a recognisable word



Issued to vehicles in Northern Ireland

Construction makes it difficult to create desirable combinations

Not particularly popular, but cheap and dateless

Each different style has potentially hundreds or thousands of combinations of attractive words for personalised plates. Reference the chart above to decide which style or time period to purchase a personalised number plate. The chart displays the time period that each style represents along with a brief description of its personalised number plate options.

Common Personalised Number Plate Themes

There are many popular themes of personalised plates that allow consumers to stand out from other vehicles and drivers. Personalised plates use all sorts of combinations of numbers and letters to spell out names, words, or phrases. For example, many numbers resemble letters, such as the number "5" and the letter "S". There are also some plates that are significant because of their history and past ownership. Personalised number plates are used as a form of expression. These expressions represent a broad range of aspects, such as names, jobs, sports and hobbies, vehicle related, and other interesting words or jokes.


Names or nicknames are a very popular choice for personalised number plates. Consumers choose variations of their given names, surname, nicknames, abbreviated names, or initials. Common names are more scarce and likely very expensive. Shortening names and using combinations of letters and numbers is creative and provides more affordable options. Another option is to simply place a driver's name initials on a plate.


Some consumers prefer to display their job or profession on their plates. Typically, jobs are shortened to fit in the limited space. For example, LAW, MD, and TXI are abbreviated options that are both affordable and available in variations.

Sports and Hobbies

For some, plates are a good way to display their interests, including their favourite sports and hobbies. Sports plates reflect actual sports, teams, or favourite players. Those who wish to display their hobby may choose to use a word or portion of a word describing the hobby or the name of the hobby. Examples of possible sports and hobby plates include: GO11 FER, F1SH, and ART.

Vehicle Related

Sometimes consumers want their number plates to reflect the type of car that they drive. Similarly, others choose words that either relate to driving, or vehicle-related, words. For example, JAG, CAR, and GO are possible word combinations for number plates. Keep in mind that these combinations also have other words and letters included on the plate.

Interesting Words

Some consumers choose interesting words for their plates. Interesting words usually reflect the personality of the vehicle's driver. Others choose words that are a part of a personal joke. Regardless of the reasoning, words are chosen as an expression. Personalised number plates with interesting word combinations reflect fun drivers and are very attention-grabbing.


There are personalised number plates available in a range of prices depending on the specificity of the search. If having a personalised number plate is really important, a consumer may consider spending more money to get exactly what is desired. UK number plates are typically registered with a vehicle for life, so the purchase of number plates is an investment. Purchasing a personalised number plate is also a good financial investment. Some consumers are able to resell their personalised number plates for more than they paid for them. The rarer and more exclusive the plate, the more expensive it is. The new or current plate styles are more affordable, but their word combinations are also more difficult to identify. Dateless and cherished plates are the most desirable and highest-priced personalised plates. Value is also somewhat subjective when it comes to desirable word combinations. Any personalised number plate offers a means of expression greater than the standard random number plate.


Vehicle number plates and registration are a requirement for driving in the UK. Instead of keeping meaningless plate numbers, many choose to purchase personalised number plates. Personalised number plates use letter and number combinations to spell out words, names, or phrases. While some words are spelled out with letters, most use a combination of letters and numbers on the plates. Personalised number plates allow drivers to stand out from the crowd. There are five different styles of personalised number plates including: dateless,, suffix,, prefix, current, or Irish. Each style has different combinations of words available for personalised plates. New styles were developed when all of the possible sequences were used. With the popularity of personalised plates, number plates and registration are now capable of transfer and reassignment. The rarer the plate and more desirable, the more exclusive and expensive it is. There are many popular themes of personal plates chosen, such as names, jobs, sports and hobbies, vehicle related, and other interesting words and jokes. Most importantly, personalised plates allow drivers to express themselves and showcase a part of their personality.

Consumers need to choose a personalised plate that includes their style, theme, and desired budget. eBay offers a wide selection of personalised number plates, no matter for which style, theme, or price you are looking.

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