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How to Make Sure You Don’t Lose Your Personalised Number Plates

Buying personalised number plates from us at CarReg is a quick and simple process but, under certain circumstances, the ownership and transfer of plates is not so clear cut or straightforward. The fact is, you never actually own a registration number, however much you pay for it. You are paying for the right to display the number. The DVLA owns it and you are, in effect, leasing it from them.

Here we look at some situations where the transfer of private plates can be complicated and how you could make the costly mistake of losing your cherished plates.

Transferring Plates from a Written Off Vehicle

If your personalised number plates are on a car that’s badly damaged and likely to be deemed BER (beyond economical repair) or sometimes referred to by Insurers as a "Total Loss", you need to make sure you transfer the registration to another vehicle or a retention certificate before the insurance company officially declares the vehicle a write-off. Failure to do so means you’ll lose your valuable plates with no recompense.

What Happens to Private Number Plates if the Keeper Dies?

A personalised registration number is the same as any other valuable asset, and you should make provision for it in your will, so it isn’t lost if you die. If the private plate is assigned to a car, you need to leave the vehicle to a beneficiary. If the number is on a retention certificate, just make the document part of your estate. In either case, the beneficiary can transfer the number to their own name.

Selling a Car with Personalised Number Plates

If you have private plates displayed on a vehicle which you are planning to sell, you must transfer the number before the sale, unless the plates are included in the deal. If you sell the car with the plates on, once the new owner receives the V5C registration document with the registration number in their name, the right to use the personalised plates becomes theirs. They’ll have got a nice bonus and you’ll have lost your cherished number.

On the flip side, if you are fortunate enough to buy a car with personalised plates, but you want to transfer your own private registration to the vehicle, can you keep the old plates? The answer is yes, but you must first apply to keep the existing plates on a retention certificate, then transfer your personalised registration number to the car. The old number is then yours to sell or keep for as long as you want.

Can You Sell Plates from a Car That’s Been in Storage for Years?

If you’ve got a car stored in your garage that’s been off the road for years, and you’d like to sell the number plates, it might not be so easy. The vehicle needs to have valid road tax or have had a SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification) in place for five continuous years. The car must also have a valid MOT and, in some cases, may need a DVLA inspection. If it meets these requirements, you can transfer the plates and the vehicle will be issued with a new, non-transferable registration number.

If you’ve got any questions about personalised number plates or you want a valuation for your cherished plate, contact us at CarReg and we’ll be happy to help.