Personalised plates are a popular thing in Britain, with some motorists willing to fork out large sums of money to get a particularly unique and quirky plate to put at the front and rear of their car.

If you decide you want something like this yourself, how difficult is to get one? Getting a personalised registration plate isn’t difficult really, provided you know where to look and have the budget. There are some rules related to them you need to be clued up on first.

Here we explain what motorists need to know about personalised registration plates and how to get your own.

Different styles of personalised plate

There are a few distinct styles a motorised can have when choosing a personalised registration plate. One style is that personalised plates can follow the same format as normal licence plates do nowadays. A standard plate on a new car starts with two letters, finishes with three letters and has two numbers and a space in between (so something like ‘AB17 JKL’ could be an example).

Another personalised plate type is the prefix style, which follows the same format which normal UK licence plates followed before September 2001. This particular style starts with a single letter and is then followed by three numbers and then three letters (so something like ‘J031 DEE’ could be an example.)

The most coveted and expensive type of personalised plate are the ones with the dateless styles. This kind of personal plate does not in any way follow the structures used for regular number plates, which are organised in the way that they are to allow observes to identify a car’s registration date and location.

Therefore, a dateless personalised number plate can have fewer characters included than your typical number plate (so something like ‘JACK 1’ could be an example).

How to buy a personalised plate

Motorists in the UK can buy a personalised registration plate directly from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Certain preferences for a personalised plate can be reserved and then later purchased anytime online. Others which are considered more in demand are made available for a limited time during auctions (both online and away from the internet).

Around six auctions for personalised registrations are held by the DVLA every year. You can check online to see in advance what registrations will be on sale at the next DVLA auction. It’s usually possible to participate in the auction either in person, online or via the phone.

If you purchase a personalised number, then what you’re specifically buying is the right to assign this number to a vehicle. This can be assigned to a vehicle in your name or in the name of somebody else.

It is also possible to buy a personalised number plate from a dealership or from a motorist in a private sale. If you decide to do this, make sure you get either the V750 certificate of entitlement or V778 certificate of retention from whoever you’re getting the plate from.

Rules for personalised plates

There are some legal restrictions you need to be aware of if you’re planning to get a personalised registration for your car or someone else’s car.

For one thing, you can’t use a personalised registration to makes a vehicle look newer than it actually is.

For example, if your car originally wore a number plate that began with ‘AB15’ as the first four characters, it would be illegal to swap this for a personal plate that started with something like ‘BA17’ at the beginning. This is because the original plate revealed that the car was registered between March and August 2015, whereas the personal plate could trick people into thinking it was actually registered much more recently than that.

Personalised plates are also not meant to be used on any Q registered vehicles. Q number plates are used on vehicles whose age or identity are in doubt. Once a vehicle gets a Q number plate, this identification will probably have to remain for the rest of the vehicle’s existence.

Also, be wary that it’s not legal to alter any of the spacing on a personalised plate or use fixing bolts to alter its appearance.

If a personalised registration plate you own gets lost or destroyed for whatever reason, it is possible to get a replacement but you should only get one from a registered number plate supplier.

Moving a personalised plate from one car to another

It’s possible to transfer a personalised plate from one vehicle to another as long as both vehicles meet certain criteria. The two vehicles involved in the transfer must be of a type that need an MOT certificate. Both cars also should be registered with the DVLA, taxed and available for inspection.

If the vehicle which currently holds the personalised plate is not taxed, you can still apply to have its plate transferred. Transferring plates should be fine provided the tax on the car only expired within the last 12 months, and there’s was no break between when the car’s tax expired and the Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) started for it.

To transfer a personal number plate, you’ll have to complete Form V317 (available online) and send it to the DVLA. If the vehicles involved in the plate transfer are owned by two separate people, then both owners will have to fill in and send their own versions of this form to the DVLA.