Personalised Number Plate FAQs

Have you got a question about personalised number plates? Our FAQ provides a very comprehensive list of common plate queries.

FAQ & General Help

Why Are Number Plates Yellow or White?

White number plates on the front and yellow on the back were chosen in order to produce maximum contrast with black. Black is obviously the colour for the letters and digits on a licence plate.

This use of contrasting elements on number plates helps police and ANPR cameras quickly identify your vehicle.

What is a registration number and who has entitlement to it?
Registration numbers are not items of property in their own right. They are assigned, and may be withdrawn, by the Secretary of State as part of the basic registration and licensing process which is required by law. The registration number is a unique means of identifying a vehicle, primarily for taxation and law enforcement purposes. It is assigned to the vehicle, rather than its keeper, and unless it is transferred or retained the registration number normally remains with the vehicle until it is broken up, destroyed or sent permanently out of the country.

An individual acquires entitlement to a registration number when he or she becomes the registered keeper of the vehicle which carries the number. When the vehicle changes hands, entitlement to its registration number will automatically pass with the vehicle to the new keeper unless use is made of the special facilities which have been designed to allow motorists to acquire and retain particular registration numbers: namely, the Cherished Transfer, Retention and Sale of Marks schemes.
What do DVLA, VRO and DOT stand for?
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, Vehicle Registration Office and Department Of Transport.
What is a prefix registration?
Prefix registrations contain the year identifier at the beginning of a registration.
What is a suffix registration?
Suffix registrations contain the year identifier at the end of a registration.
What is a current style registration?
Current style registrations consist of two letters, a two-figure age identifier and finally three letters.
What is a dateless registration?
Dateless registrations do not contain a year identifier and can consist of a number combination followed by a letter combination and vice versa.
Once I have bought a personalised registration mark, do I have to put it straight onto a vehicle?
No. If it has been supplied on a retention certificate you have until the expiry date shown on your V750 or V778 to put the mark onto a vehicle.
How do I get a specific number released if it has never been issued?
In short there are no guarantees of getting any registration number issued that does not exist. Some marks are not issued because they are considered offensive, others just never made it to issue over the years.
What if my vehicle is stolen and not recovered?
If your vehicle is stolen and has not been recovered after a year you can apply to have its registration number re-assigned to your replacement vehicle providing certain conditions are met. In order to qualify for the concession, the theft must have been notified to the police and recorded at DVLA as stolen for not less than 12 months.

In addition, at the time of the theft the vehicle must have had a current test pass certificate and have had a current vehicle excise license (tax disc). The Agency will also require a letter from your insurers confirming that they have no objection to the number being re-issued.

This must be provided because once insurers have settled your claim, they have a rightful claim to the vehicle should it be recovered.
What if my vehicle is "written off"?
A write-off happens when a damaged vehicle is judged by insurers to be beyond economic repair. In such a case, the insurance company agrees a pay-out with the insured, and legal ownership of the vehicle then passes to the insurance company.

The company is then free to sell the vehicle as salvage and the purchaser may repair it and put it back on the road. Unless you transfer the registration to another vehicle or a retention document you risk losing your entitlement to that registration.
I have an old vehicle which is not registered at DVLA. Can I register the vehicle and transfer or retain its registration number?
It is possible for the vehicle to be registered by the governing bodies. But you will not be able to transfer or retain its number.
If you are able to supply documentary evidence (eg the old-style log book) to establish a link between the vehicle and the registration number, you should be able to register the vehicle under that number. If you do not have documentary evidence, or you do not know the vehicle's registration number, the vehicle may still be registered but in this case a number appropriate to its age will be assigned by the governing bodies. If the age or origin of the vehicle cannot be established, then the governing bodies may register the vehicle under a "Q" number. Whatever the circumstances, however, the vehicle's registration number will be non-transferable. This arrangement helps to safeguard entitlement by removing the incentive there would otherwise be for spurious claims to attractive old registration numbers.
What documents do I need to buy a registration number?
If you are buying a number to go onto a vehicle straight away then you will need to provide your V5, MOT if applicable and a copy of your tax disc or a note of your current tax expiry date.
How much is the transfer fee?
£80 (+ an additional £25 if the registration is going to be held on retention with a certificate).
What happens to the registration that is currently on my vehicle if I buy a new registration?
You may choose to pay the Department of Transport fee and retain it, otherwise the registration is automatically made void. Unless you retain the number you can remove and dispose of the old plates when the time comes to fit your new ones.
Display of registration numbers
Registration numbers must be correctly displayed in accordance with the regulations governing the design, manufacture and display of vehicle registration plates. It is an offence to mis-space or misrepresent registrations on number plates or to corrupt numbers to appear as letters or vice versa. More information on spacing can be found in leaflet V796 Display of Registration Marks which is obtainable from your nearest VRO and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre (DVLC), Swansea.
Where can I buy a special registration number?
What do I get for my money when I buy a previously unissued mark?
Registration numbers are not items of property so you cannot buy legal title to them. What you pay for is the assignment right to the particular number. The sale involves a legally binding contract between the Secretary of State and the purchaser for an agreed price. The purchaser is granted the right to assign the number to a vehicle registered in his/her own name, or that of his/her nominee where applicable, within a 12 month period. The assignment right is granted to the purchaser alone and it is non-transferable - the nominee has no rights to the number.

In addition to the agreed sale price, an assignment fee (currently £80) is payable at the time of purchase. Buyers are issued with a V750 Certificate of Entitlement, valid for 12 months, which records details of the registration number, the purchaser and nominee details where supplied at the time of purchase.

The Sale of Registration Marks regulations 1995 explains what you need to do when you are ready to have the number assigned. Numbers can only be assigned to vehicles which are subject to testing and are currently licensed or are being licensed at the time of assignment.
REMEMBER: A nominee has no rights under the sales agreement - the assignment right is granted to the purchaser only and cannot be transferred.

Only the purchaser can apply to have the number assigned, and it can only be assigned to a vehicle registered to the purchaser, or to the nominee shown on the Certificate of Entitlement.

Once you have assigned the number to your, or your nominee's, vehicle you have fully exercised your rights under the terms of your contract with the Secretary of State. After assignment, entitlement to the number comes through being the keeper of the vehicle which has received it. Only the keeper is entitled to apply for retention or transfer of the number.

Please note that if the number is being assigned to a vehicle that is already registered, its existing number will become void unless an application to transfer or retain that number is made at the same time.
Does the price include a vehicle?
No. You are only buying the registration and the right to transfer it to a vehicle of your choice.
Does the price include the acrylic plates?
Acrylic plates are not included within the New Reg purchase price. However, we do provide a plate manufacturing service, at a competitive price. For further details on how to purchase plates from us please visit our website –
Is it possible to transfer a registration mark to a vehicle with a 'Q' prefix?
Unfortunately, transfers are not possible to 'Q' registered vehicles. At present 'Q' prefix registration marks are non-transferable.
If I ask my garage to fit a registration, will I have to pay the £80 transfer fee again?
No. Every new vehicle is supplied with an appropriate year letter free of charge by the garage. The only charge made by the garage is for the acrylic plates.
Can a private registration be transferred from a car to a motorbike?
Yes. All motorbikes (including mopeds) can participate freely, provided the normal requirements of the transfer facility are met.
Can I ask you to try and get a previously unissued prefix combination?
Yes. In addition to the new age-related prefix registration marks, there is a possibility that the governing bodies may consider issuing the 'E & F' prefix combinations (number range 1-20 inclusive only). However, such decisions are at the sole discretion of the governing bodies. There are many changes in hand and nothing is certain.
Can I put any personalised plate on my vehicle?
The rule is; you cannot make a vehicle look newer than it actually is by transferring a younger year letter. For example, ABC 8W cannot be transferred to a vehicle originally registered as NDF 715P as this would make it look younger. The same applies to 'S' prefix registration marks, these can only be assigned to vehicles first registered as new on or after the 1st of August 1998. Vehicle registration marks that do not contain a year identifier may be assigned to a vehicle of any age.

What happens to my current registration when I transfer to a New Reg?
It's automatically made void, unless you pay the Department of Transport a fee to retain it. We will advise you when to remove and destroy your old plates and fit your new ones. Further information on retaining your old registration mark can be found on our website under Services > Retention Scheme.
If my car windows are etched with my original registration, does this mean I can get my old registration back if I decide to sell the car carrying my New Reg?
You can request the old registration mark to be re-assigned to your vehicle only if the windows of the vehicle are etched with the registration mark. The Vehicle Registration Office may call in your vehicle for an inspection to verify your claim. There are no guarantees that the governing bodies will re-issue the registration mark but, in our experience, it's highly likely they will do so.
Why are the rules of the governing bodies so strict?
There are many reasons why the system of assigning registration marks is so strict. The most obvious reason is that registrations are a method of law enforcement and as such the integrity and clarity of the transfer system must be upheld.
My V5 document says my registration mark is 'non-transferable'. Can I transfer a New Reg onto my vehicle?
Yes, in some cases. Although you cannot transfer or retain a non-transferable registration mark, the vehicle can receive a registration mark providing the non-transferable registration mark is not a 'Q' prefix, and providing the vehicle meets the normal conditions of the Sales, Transfer and Retention schemes.
What happens if I need to tax or MOT my vehicle while the registration transfer is being processed?
No problem!
Road Tax: Simply send the appropriate fee (cheques payable to the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency), together with your Insurance Certificate or cover note to us. We will do the rest!

MOT: You must ensure that the garage MOT the vehicle using the old registration. Send the new Certificate to us with a covering note informing us of the registration mark that you are purchasing. We will request the MOT be amended during the transfer procedure.
If the recipient vehicle already has a private registration mark can I transfer both at the same time?
Yes, no problem, this is a double transfer. All we need is the documents from the third vehicle involved and an extra £80 (cheque payable to the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency) along with a V317 application form and our additional administration fee, currently £80. If no third vehicle is available, then the registration mark can normally be retained on a retention certificate in accordance with the governing regulations. The current fee is £25 (plus the £80 transfer fee) which is to be supplied with the V778/1 application form and our additional administration fee, currently £80. Further information on retaining a registration mark may be found on our website under Services > Retention Scheme.
Does my vehicle need to be inspected?
Not usually. However, if, for example, there has been a change of construction of the vehicle, the authorities may then want to inspect it. You would be notified if this were necessary.
Can you make a set of plates to spell an everyday word? PRIVATE or CAR PARK for example?
It is against the law in Britain to supply such plates for road use. To display illegally spaced or indistinguishable acrylic plates is an offence and can result in a fine of up to £1,000!
Why are my acrylic plates Pink or Orange?
All acrylic plates are supplied with a protective film used to prevent damage to the plate. The film must be removed before use.
Yellow Lamborghini

Information from the DVLA

Transferring a registration number

You can transfer your vehicle registration:

  • from your vehicle to another one in your name
  • to a vehicle, you’re buying
  • to someone else’s vehicle

Conditions for transferring a registration number

You can’t transfer a registration number:

  • starting with ‘Q’ or ‘NIQ’ for Northern Ireland registered vehicles
  • if it will make the vehicle it’s being transferred to look younger

Both vehicles must be:

  • registered with DVLA
  • available for inspection
  • of a type that needs an MOT or heavy goods vehicle (HGV) test certificate

Both vehicles should be currently taxed. However, if the vehicle that currently has the registration number is not taxed, you can still apply as long as:

  • the tax disc has run out in the last 12 months
  • there’s no break between the date the tax disc runs out and the start of the SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification)

How to transfer a registration number

You’ll need to complete a V317 ‘application to transfer or retain a vehicle registration number’ - if the number is being transferred to someone else’s vehicle, then both registered keepers must complete the application.


You should also include:

  • the £80 transfer fee (cheque or postal order, payable to DVLA)
  • the registration certificate or the new keeper supplement with a completed V62 ‘application for a vehicle registration certificate V5C’ for each vehicle
  • an MOT test certificate (for cars and motorcycles over 3 years old, and heavy goods vehicles over 1-year-old) for each vehicle


Send your application to your nearest DVLA local office.

If either vehicle needs taxing

You’ll also need to enclose:

  • a completed V10 ‘application for a tax disc’
  • a certificate of insurance or valid cover for the vehicle
  • the correct vehicle tax fee
Volkswagen Classic Cars

If you’re registering a vehicle or brand new vehicles at the same time

If you’re registering a vehicle yourself, you’ll need to provide documentation to confirm your identity with your application. If buying a brand new vehicle, you’ll need to provide identity documentation to the dealer.

The documents you need

You must provide, along with your application, either your photocard driving licence or 1 original document from each of the lists below.

Documents confirming your name:

  • current paper driving licence
  • passport
  • marriage certificate
  • decree nisi or absolute
  • birth certificate

Documents confirming your address:

  • a utility bill from the last 3 months, or council tax bill for the current year
  • a bank or building society statement from the last 3 months
  • a medical card

Returning your identity documents

Your documents will normally be returned with your vehicle tax disc. If you want your documents returned by special delivery, include a prepaid name and address, self-addressed, special-delivery envelope.

DVLA can’t guarantee to return your documents by a specific date.

If you don’t get your identity documents back, contact DVLA within 3 months of the date you sent your application. DVLA won’t be liable for any claim after this.

What happens next

The DVLA local office may need to inspect both vehicles and will contact you to arrange an appointment. If they don’t need to inspect them, they’ll approve your application within 2 weeks.

If your application is approved, you’ll receive:

  • a confirmation letter to advise the replacement registration number
  • new tax discs for both vehicles showing the new and replacement registration numbers
  • an authorisation letter (V948) which you’ll need to get your number plates made up
  • a replacement MOT test certificate for cars and motorcycles over 3 years old, and heavy goods vehicles over 1-year-old

Allow at least 2 weeks after sending your application before contacting DVLA.

Registration certificates

You’ll also be sent registration certificates for both vehicles showing the new and replacement registration numbers.

These should arrive within 4 weeks of the confirmation letter. It can take up to 6 weeks if a V62 application was used to support the application.

Retaining a registration number

If you’re the registered keeper of a vehicle, you can apply to remove a registration number from the vehicle and hold it on a retention document (V778) for 1, 2 or 3 years.

You can retain the registration number in your name or someone else’s name. This costs:

  • £105 for 1 year
  • £130 for 2 years
  • £155 for 3 years

You’ll need the retention document when you want to assign the number to a vehicle again.

Dvla Personalised Registration

Find your  cherished plate

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Beef Registrations, was established in 1990 and has been selling cherished plates for over 30 years. Since then the company has grown from strength to strength, and thanks to the enthusiasm of the British public, Beef Registrations Plates have become a brand leader within the personalised plates industry.

Beef Registrations
Watling Farmhouse
Watling Street
LE10 3AR

T: 01455 882885
F: 01455 221174
M: 07836 798888

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