How to buy a personalised number plate

Kiran John, founder of, shares her experience. Number plate

So you’ve decided you’d like to buy personalised number plates? Don’t know where to start? You’re not alone. Around 90% of our customers are first timers.

How do I get started?

First things first. Budget.

Let’s face it. Most of us have to work within a budget. How much do you want to spend? Be realistic though. If, like most, you want your first name, you’ll need deep pockets. Good three-letter first names start from around £1500, and then the sky’s the limit. Something like BEN 1 would set you back tens of £1000s.

Next, do some research.

Use a site that displays registration numbers to look like a number plate on the screen. The special font makes a difference, so it gives a better idea of how the final number plates will look when they’re made up.

You’ll find lots of information on websites. And you can talk to number plate companies for advice.
Think about why you’re buying a personalised number plate. Is it just for fun? Or for investment?

Not all personalised number plates go up in value.

If the value’s not important and you want it just for fun, just bear in mind that you might not get your money back if you do ever want to sell it.

It’s a common assumption that they’ll go up in value. But with over 38 million number plates on the market at any one time, only a small percentage of these are attractive as an invesment. So if this is important to you, then think carefully about what you buy. As a rule of thumb, cheaper number plates (less than £1000) won’t go up. And if you find that there are dozens to choose from when you’re buying – there’s your clue.

If you can’t find what you want, you can use a number plate finder.   There are many different companies offereing this service, including my own numberfox.

Lastly, make an offer.

When you think you’ve found something you want, make an offer. Again, be realistic. Don’t go too low or you risk your offer not being taken seriously. Unless you have good reason to feel the asking price is too high compared to other similar registration numbers. If you’re trying to get more than 10% off, you may struggle. But offer to pay a token amount to show your offer is genuine – it often helps with negotiation. If in doubt, ask! That’s what the number plate company is there for.

How do number plate companies work?

This is something we get asked a lot. They generally act as a broker, acting on behalf of the seller. Much like an estate agent (without the reputation!). So they can advise you and will negotiate on your behalf. And will also take care of all the paperwork involved in transferring ownership. That includes re-registering your car under the new registration number.

How do I choose which company to use?

Don’t go on price alone. The most important thing is to check the company offers safeguards. They should be members of regulatory bodies such as Cherished Numbers Dealers Association (CNDA) or APRT. These companies – including our own – must operate under a strict Code of Conduct.

Also check online reviews on independent websites, such as Review Centre.

You could be driving around with your personal plates in weeks!