How to sell personalised cherished and vanity plates

How to sell personalised cherished and vanity plates. In the same way people like to personalise and modify cars. Many people like the idea of having a distinctive or personalised registration number. Plates are often also bought for birthday or Christmas presents. While some classic car owners simply want a shorter number more suitable to an older cars looks and character.

The personalised number plates market has grown massively over the last few decades. Where previous generations put no real value on plates everything started to change in the early 1990’s with a huge boom in interest and the realisation that there was huge money to be made in the personalised plate market.

Today the market is very well established and understood, with a large number of auction, traders and private sellers offering plates for sale. With low and interesting plates being worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not more.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) themselves realised there was serious money to be made and make the transfer and trade in plates a relatively easy and painless transaction.

So there is a great money making opportunity to buy and sell plates, in exactly the same way you can flip cars. Below I run you through the basics buying options and the paperwork you need to understand when flipping number plates.

How to buy a personalised number plate

There are three ways you can buy a personalised number plate.

1. Direct from the DVLA

The first and easiest is to buy directly from the DVLA. The DVLA have a search tool allowing you browse plates that are available. They also holds auctions periodically. These are either traditional  auctions, or ‘timed auctions’. Timed auctions work in a similar way to an eBay auction.

You submit a maximum bid and the system automatically bids for you until you either win the plate or your upper limit is reached.

This is my preferred method of buying as it avoids and addition third party or middleman costs.

2. Buying from a broker

There are lots of traders and companies that buy and sell personalised number plates. If you can’t find the plate you’re after on the DVLA’s website, it’s worth searching broker’s websites.

Plates bought through brokers are more expensive than those sold directly by the DVLA. Due to their additional costs and margin.

3. Buying individual plates privately

You can often find plates for sale by search the classified sections of websites, magazines and newspapers. The number plates that crop up in classified adverts tend to be of high quality or very car model specific. But this can be a great source of numbers

How much do personalised number plate cost?

Most personalised number plates range from a couple of hundred pounds up to a few thousand. If you’re buying or selling a rare and desirable plate sums can often run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The general rule is the fewer characters a personalised number plate has, the more expensive it will be. Similarly to flipping supercars the higher the demand, the higher the price. Plates that spell out a popular name or car model will also fetch a premium.

Plates relating too expensive cars tend to be expensive as the  owners are often willing and able to pay high prices for the right number plate.

Where do to sell a number plate?

The two best ways to sell number plate are:​

1. Classified adverts
Classified advert are not only a great way to buy but also sell plates. Simply advertise a plate in a car magazine, newspaper or on a car website. If you have a plate that relates to a particular brand or model, then advertising in a related magazine or online forum is a good idea.

2. Auction
This is my favourite way to sell plates. Its fast and can you can get some great results. Plates are either sold at specialist plate auction or alongside cars and other automotive memorabilia. If you have a high value plate the larger international auction houses often hold auctions alongside motor shows or events. These represent fantastic selling opportunities.

How to transfer a personalised number plate

Once you have bought a plate you can transfer it in various ways via the via the DVLA website. They explain the processes in great detail. With various options to transfer the plate or hold it in your name until you have found a buyer or want to transfer it to another vehicle. All you’ll need the cars logbook or V5C and the transfer can be completed online between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Saturday.


The number plate market is very well established and understood, and can make a great side hustle to compliment a car flipping business. With plates generally only go up in value and not requiring any maintenance or costly storage. So even if it takes you years to find a buyer, your plate will most likely just appreciate further in that time.