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Rules to Follow When Buying Number Plates and Surrounds

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Rules to Follow When Buying Number Plates and Surrounds
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Rules to Follow When Buying Number Plates and Surrounds

In the UK, the law requires that all vehicles have number plates for identification. The number plates are displayed on the front and back of the vehicle with the exception of motorbikes, where the number plate is displayed on the back. The government has laws and requirements for the manufacture, purchase, and display of a number plate. When buying a number plate, a buyer should understand the legal requirements or rules to follow before making a purchase. For the motorist whose number plates do not meet the legal requirements, they risk fines or the number plates being removed from the vehicle. A buyer should also determine what number plate surrounds are available for use with what number plate.

eBay offers a wide selection of number plates and surrounds.. Within the legal specifications, there are a range of available choices. These choices range from standard to one-of-a-kind, depending on the buyer's own personal style.

Number Plate Registration Requirements

Since 1903, all vehicles that ride on public roads must be officially registered and display a number plate on the front and rear of the vehicle. A vehicle must be registered through either the DVLA or the DVA by submitting the appropriate documents and paying the associated fees. A certificate of registration or entitlement is issued upon completion of the registration process for a new number plate. A certificate of retention is issued upon completion of the registration process for an existing or pre-owned number plate. The registration expires after six months, and the process must be completed again to maintain the plate.

Once the vehicle is officially registered, the registrant can legally purchase and register a number plate for the vehicle. The registrant can select a standard, government-issued number plate or a more personalised number plate, also known as a cherished number plate from a registered, DVLA supplier. Regardless of the type of number plate a motorist chooses, the supplier must meet the legal requirements for selling official, new, or pre-owned UK number plates, and the buyer must have a valid vehicle registration number and appropriate documentation.

Number Plate Display Requirements

All number plates issued and displayed after 2001 must conform to the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulation 2001. This regulation along with British Standard BS AU 145d expressly details the exact specifications for the manufacture and display of an official UK number plate. When buying a new, pre-owned, government-issued, or cherished number plate, the buyer must make sure the number plate conforms to these regulations. Vehicles with number plates issued prior to 2001 may continue to use those number plates, even though they may not conform to the regulations.

Specifications

Most cars and vans display a rectangular plate, while motorbikes display a square plate. The front plate size for a car is normally 520 mm x 111 mm. The back plate size is normally 285 mm x 203 mm, or 533 mm x 152 mm. For plates issued after 1973, the plate background, not the numbers, is reflex-reflective. The front plate background is white. The rear plate background is yellow. For plates issued after 2001, the numbers and letters are black with a standard font, preferably 'Charles Wright 2001'. The only official variation of this font is a 3D numberplate. With both standards, the numbers and letters must be 79 mm tall, 50 mm wide, and spaced 11 mm apart. British or European flag symbols and the country name or initials may be displayed on the side of the plate. The number plate should display the name and postcode of the plate manufacturer and supplier.

Types of Number Plates

When buying a new or existing number plate, the buyer may choose either a standard, government-issued number plate or a cherished number plate. The letter and number combination used for each plate is specific to that particular plate and cannot be reused with future plates. The plate can be sold to another person, and the registration transferred to the new buyer and vehicle.

Within each type of number plate, there are specific styles such as dateless, suffix, prefix, and current style number plates. Each style corresponds to a time period and has number plate identifiers. The cost of the plate is determined by the level of demand, the unique personalisation of the plate, and the availability of the number plate.

Dateless Style

Dateless style number plates were the first number plates issued. These plates were common between 1903 and 1963. They are called dateless number plates today because they do not indicate the year the number plate was issued. These number plates contain a set of numbers or letters, followed by a space, followed by a set of numbers or letters. Because there is no year identifier, these number plates are very popular today as they can be displayed on any type of vehicle of any age. They are considered much sought-after by collectors, can be very expensive, and hard to find. Irish number plates are described as dateless number plates.

Suffix Style

Suffix style number plates are number plates that were issued between 1963 and 1983. They consist of a series of three letters at the beginning of the plate, followed by a space, and then three numbers and a letter. The three numbers indicate the year of identification or when the number plate was first issued. These plates are also popular because the three letters at the beginning of the plate can be personalised with a name, initials, or phrase. These plates can only be displayed on vehicles of the same identification year or newer. They cannot be assigned to vehicles older than the year identifier.

Prefix Style

Prefix style number plates are number plates that were issued between 1983 and 2001. The number plates contain a letter followed by a three-digit year identifier at the beginning of the plate, followed by a space, and then a three letter combination. The prefix number plate style is also popular because the three letters at the end of the plate can be personalised with names, initials, phrases, or words unique to the buyer. These plates cannot be transferred to vehicles older than the year identifier on the number plate.

Current Style

Current style number plates are number plates issued between 2001 to the present. These number plates conform to the new number plate format implemented in 2001. The plate consists of a set of two letters followed by two numbers (year identifier), followed by a space, followed by three letters. The first two letters indicate the area of the UK, and the specific office the number plate was registered. The year identifier indicates the year the vehicle plate was issued and can only be transferred to a vehicle of the same year or newer. The last set of letters are issued randomly and may be personalised with names, initials, or short phrases. Depending on the level of demand for specific letter combinations, the plates can range from inexpensive to quite expensive and may be difficult to find.

The following table includes the four styles of number plates. It features the year identifiers and vehicles used with the different styles of number plates.

Number Plate Style

Year Identifiers

Vehicle

Dateless (1903-1963)

None

Any car type or year

Suffix (1963-1983)

Three number, year identifier at end of plate

Only cars of same issue year or newer

Prefix (1983-2001)

Three number, year identifier at beginning of plate

Only cars of same issue year or newer

Current (2001-present)

Two number, year identifier in middle of plate

Only cars of same issue year or newer

The table above illustrates the basic differences in the year identifiers located in the four styles of number plates. Each number plate provides a letter combination for personalisation, if desired. Each number plate, except for dateless number plates, can only be transferred to cars with the same issue year or newer. They cannot be transferred to cars older than a plate's issue year.

Types of Number Plate Surrounds

There are also personalised surrounds that allow motorists to showcase their personalities and individual sense of style. The buyer should make sure that the number plate conforms to the British Standard BS AU 145d. If the plate meets the legal requirements, the buyer can select surrounds for the plate. Number plate surrounds are not as strictly regulated as number plates. Number plate surrounds include side badges, borders, bottom text, and frames.

Side Badges

Side badges are generally located on the left side of a number plate. Many side badges display the British or European flag with the country's name or initials underneath. The side badges may be located on the front or back plates.

Borders and Bottom Line Text

A thin border may be located along the outside edge of the number plate. Many buyers also choose to incorporate a brief, bottom line text. Border and text colours include black, grey, red, pink, or green. All number plates must also include the manufacturer's and supplier's name and postcode.

Frames

Another popular surround is the number plate frame. A number plate frame fits around the number plate and comes in the buyer's choice of colour, such as gold or silver. The buyer can also choose to match the colour of the frame with the vehicle colour. The plate can be personalised using symbols and letters.

Buying Number Plates and Surrounds on eBay

eBay offers a wide selection of number plates in the four different styles. The listings for number plates include personalised, hard-to-find number/letter combinations that cannot be found elsewhere. eBay also offers listings for number plate surrounds, that vary according to features like side badges, borders, bottom line text, and frames. A buyer may purchase a number plate on eBay that includes an existing registration number. These numbers are usually cherished numbers. Some sellers may specify that the buyer provide the registration number and select additional surrounds when purchasing a number plate.

There are some easy methods to use to search for number plates and surrounds on eBay. These methods include the keyword search and category search filters. To search for number plates and surrounds on eBay using keywords, the buyer can type in 'number plates' or 'number plates and surrounds&' into the search bar on the eBay home page. The buyer then clicks the 'Search' button and is directed to a page of listings for number plates, or number plates and surrounds.

The buyer should also read the seller's profile, examine item photos, and determine postage costs and any associated fees for purchasing a new or pre-owned number plate. Many sellers list what fees and accessories are included with the purchase.

Conclusion

Every vehicle in the UK is required by law to display a number plate on the front and rear of the vehicle for identification purposes, except for motorbikes,, which must display the number plate on the back. The number plate must conform to certain legal specifications according to the year of issue. Each style of number plate, except for dateless number plates, contains a year identifier that indicates the year of issue for that particular number plate. The number plates may be issued as standard or cherished. Standard, government-issued number plates have sets of letters that are issued randomly along with the year identifier. Cherished number plates contain personalised names, initials, or phrases that are unique to the plate. A specific plate, standard or cherished, cannot be reproduced.

Cherished number plates allow the buyer to incorporate their own unique style within the legal specifications of the plate. The buyer can also add surrounds to the plate such as side badges, borders, bottom line text messages, and frames to enhance the number plate's overall look. eBay has thousands of listings for both standard and cherished plates, as well as a variety of surrounds for number plates.

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