You can take a profit with the boom in license plate prices – but it will cost you millions if you want to show that you’re number 1
- During the pandemic, the demand for personalized license plates is increasing
- The increase in sales has contributed to the value of the most sought-after records
- License plates can change hands for £ 150 to £ 200,000 or more
During the pandemic, the demand for personalized license plates has spiked, making many of them wise investments.
The increase in sales has helped the most desirable records soar in price and created a multi-million pound industry where they can change hands for £ 150,000 to £ 200,000 or more.
Russell Palmer is a director at CarReg record retailer. He says, “With so many people being forced to work from home, the business has seen a boom. People have discovered that personalized license plates can be a smart investment. With regular online auctions and sales, buyers don’t have to step out of the front door. ‘
The only thing: Abu Dhabi Tycoon paid 7 million pounds for his plate
Interest is piqued by many people who want to personalize cars with a license plate that means something special to them – letters and numbers that look like they’re spelling out a name or a cherished word. Among the records that are rising in value the most are given names, which have gained increasing popularity.
Jack is a Christian name that has been popular with new parents in recent years. A license plate ‘JAC 1K’ that sold for £ 8,700 in 2008 could now sell for up to £ 50,000, according to Palmer.
The ‘MEG 4N’ license plate cost £ 12,500 in 2003. After Meghan Markle’s marriage to Prince Harry, it has since been valued at £ 45,000.
Another winner is the ‘BOR 15N’ record, which was bought for £ 650 in 2013 but sold for £ 2,000 last year – after Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.
A major attraction is that a sign can stay with one owner forever – and can be carried over to any new car. The transfer fee is £ 80 and can be done online via the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website.
If a car is not to be tagged, a buyer must complete a V750 Certificate of Entitlement or a V778 Certificate of Hold. You pay £ 80 – and another £ 80 if the record hasn’t been used after ten years.
If the vehicle number is not properly registered, a license plate can revert to the possession of the DVLA.
The signs date from 1904, when a vehicle had to be registered for the first time. Early license plates prior to 1963 – after which date identification letters were received at the end of the license plates – are most in demand.
These so-called “cherished” plates consist of a combination of up to three letters and four numbers. Low combinations are the most valuable.
Top prices for license plates
Such examples can sell for £ 100,000 or even more. Palmer owns the license plate ‘1 RP’ inherited from his late father, who had the same initials. The record was bought for £ 10,500 in 1995 and is now valued at over £ 150,000. He says, “It can be especially appealing when you have a name like mine that has been passed down from the family – because it means something special.”
Between 1963 and 1983 the records had age letters at the end. This was switched to the front of the plate in 1983 and this practice continued until 2001.
Since then, the third and fourth digits on a plate have been used to identify the year a car was registered – every six months.
In March it will be ’21’ and then in September it will be ’71’ – 21 plus 50. A ’21’ sign can be reserved through the DVLA at gov.uk/personalised-vehicle-registration-numbers.
Novelty entertainment value is another reason people might grab a plate – although the DVLA is wary of combinations that can be turned into swear words, cause insults, or have sexual connotations. The agency has even banned the use of plates related to coronavirus.
For example, “COV 1D” has been withdrawn. A risky ’80 OBS ‘slipped through the censorship network and was bought in 2004 for £ 10,000. Today it could bring in £ 20,000.
The DVLA has banned the use of plates related to coronavirus
DVLA started selling private signs in 1989. Next year, at least seven sales auctions will be held in cooperation with the car auctioneer BCA. Please visit dvlaauction.co.uk for more information.
An alternative to searching the DVLA database or participating in an auction is to contact a specialist dealer such as CarReg, Cherished Numbers or National Numbers.
These companies specialize in the custom plate trade, so should be able to find what you want. Buyers can expect a premium of 10 percent.
Crooks are also active in the market. Not only do they sell fake signs, they also manipulate existing signs so that combinations of letters and numbers look more attractive when the sizes are changed. This includes the use of unauthorized fonts and plate screws.
The laws on the distance and size of license plates are strict. If a license plate breaks the rules, the driver could face a £ 1,000 fine.
Buyers and sellers should only contact a reputable dealer who is either registered with the Institute of Registration Agents & Dealers (MIRAD) or the Cherished Numbers Dealers Association (CNDA). These have codes of conduct that aim to weed out villains.
Damian Lawson, Manager at DVLA, says, “The easiest way to buy or assign a personalized registration is to use our online service. There are more than 50 million variations available on our website – so hopefully an endless combination for every taste and budget. ‘
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