What You Need to Know About Selling a Private Number Plate

Did you know that the most expensive number plate ever sold in the UK was ’25 O’, bought by a Ferrari dealer for £518,000? You might not get quite that much, but if you're looking to make some money back or your plate simply no longer holds an emotional value, selling your private number plate is an easy to way cash in. Read on to find out how.

What you need to know about selling your private number plate

Can I sell it?

You can sell your private number plate if you have a valid Certificate of Entitlement (V778) or Retention Document (V750). You can also sell it if it’s registered to a car in your name, for which you have a valid V5C logbook. Note that the V5C document should not contain the words “non-transferable”. If it does, you won’t be able to sell.

How do I sell my private number plate?

You can sell your personalised registration privately or through a dealer. If you sell through a dealer, you won’t have to take care of the paperwork yourself but you will be charged a commission fee. On the other hand, you can sell it privately to save on commission, but it may be harder for you to find the right buyer.

Here’s an important point to keep in mind: never share a full photograph or scan of the V750 or V778 document. It’s understandable that to instil confidence in potential buyers, you may need to prove you have these documents. If this is the case, block out all instances of the certificate number/reference number before sharing any scans, copies or photographs of your documents. Note that the reference number is visible in many places throughout the document. This is to stop potential scammers from instantly transferring your private plate to their car using these numbers.

How to sell a private number plate through a dealer

There are several dealers in the UK who specialise in selling and buying private registrations. Selling through a dealer is more convenient, as they have access to a large pool of potential buyers, meaning you may be able to sell your private number plate more easily. They’ll take care of form-filling for you and also make sure you get the right buyer at the right price since they’re incentivised by commission. Before you choose a dealer, make sure you do your research and check out their reputation through online reviews.

How to sell a private number plate yourself

If you don’t want to lose out on the full value of your cherished registration, selling privately is the better choice. In this case, you’ll have to advertise the plate yourself. Here are your options:

  • Auction websites – if you’re sure about the price, you can put a reserve and make sure you get the minimum value. However, you’ll have to pay a commission fee to the auctioning site
  • Local advertisements, such as putting up ads in the classifieds of local newspapers
  • Specialist number plate classifieds sites
  • Free classifieds like Gumtree

It’s best to do a little research online to understand which sites offer better visibility and use fair advertisement practices.

Once you find a buyer, you’ll need to assign your private registration to them. If it’s currently being used on a vehicle, you’ll first need to take the registration off and put it on retention. You can do so online (via the gov.uk site) or by post using the V317 application form. Once it’s on retention, simply provide the certificate number of your private registration to your buyer and direct them to the gov.uk site for registering a private number to their car. Doing so will automatically transfer ownership rights of the private plate to them. Do not share the certificate number until the funds are reflected in your account.

How do I know if I’m getting the right price for my private number plate?

Much like any other auctioned item, pricing your number plate is an art rather than exact science. To be fully sure of your price, you can use several valuation services available online or through dealers. You can also conduct your own research online on other number plates that are being sold on auction sites.

Generic initials and nameplates tend to sell pretty easily. On the other hand, if there are too many similar number plates in the market, yours won’t command a high price. You may also not be able to find many takers for funny phrases or references with a niche audience. Generally speaking, fewer characters mean a higher value.

Can I sell my number plate back to the DVLA?

No, the DVLA only sells new number plates. It does not offer a facility to buy back private registrations.

Now that you have a good idea of how to sell a private plate, why not start by putting your ad up on Gumtree for free? Be sure to do your research and you’ll get a fair price for your private plate. For more car guides such as how to prepare your car to sell quickly, check out the advice hub.


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