number plate glossary

Because of public interest in private number plates, DVLA has put special regulations in place

Number Plate Dictionary

Personalised number plate terminology explained:


Assigning is moving a registration number from a certificate to a suitable vehicle. However, you can't assign a personalised number plate to a car in order to make it appear newer.


The DVLA hold a number of number plate auctions throughout the year in which Beef Registrations regularly attend.


Cherished number plates mean that the plate is dateless. The name comes from the owners of dateless registrations who classed the marks as cherished and a family keepsake.

Cherished Transfer Scheme

The Cherished Transfer Scheme allows cherished number plates to be transferred between vehicles.

Current Style

Also known as Millennium and New-Style registrations. This is the current system for number plates in the UK, issued from September 2001. The system allows for two issues per year, March being indicated by "01", "02", "03" etc while September is shown as "51", "52", etc.


Dateless registrations, also known as Cherished registrations. Dateless Registrations all effectively hide the age of the vehicle, however, this is not the only reason that people purchase them.


This is a term for the documents that are needed to complete a transfer. For example, these can include the vehicle's MOT certificate, tax, and V5 documentation.


This is short for ‘Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. The DVLA governs registrations of vehicles, registration marks, and drivers.

DVLA Local Offices

The DVLA has a number of local offices. For more information on these offices please see our DVLA Local Offices section of the website.


DVLC is the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre and used to be the name of the DVLA before it became an agency and was responsible for raising money for The Treasury.


There is one font which is legally allowed on UK number plates. Other fonts with wiggly or bold writing for example are not allowed by the law.

Governing Bodies

There are several governing bodies that oversee dealers engaged in the sale and transfer of registration numbers. Two of these are the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) and the Cherished Numbers Dealers Association (CNDA), both of which require members to adhere to a strict code of conduct.


An inspection takes place when the DVLA need to validate that the donor car is using a registration legally, by comparing the car chassis number with its logbook. Whilst these checks do not happen very often they will slow down the transfer process by at least a week. This is primarily done for the safety of the person buying the plates. If it turns out that the car is stolen, then the DVLA can take the registration back, even after the transfer has been completed.

Log Book

This is the book containing all of the information about a vehicle, every car has its own logbook.


Millennium registrations is another term for the current style of registration number plate used on vehicles in the UK that are issued from September 2001.


MOT stands for Ministry Of Transport (roadworthiness certificate). The is a test on your car that is required by law in order to ensure that the vehicle is roadworthy.

New Style

New-style registration is another term for the current style of registration numbers used on vehicles in the UK.

Number Plate

The term number plate is used to describe both the registration - the rights to use a number and the acrylic plates onto which the number is printed.


All vehicles are issued with a registration mark. Some drivers prefer to personalise their vehicle by choosing a set of numbers/letters which are personal to them.


Prefix registrations are named prefixes because a year identifying letter precedes any digits or letter sequences.


A term used to refer to the number used on a personalised number plate. The registration corresponds to the Vehicle Identification Number on a vehicle and is printed on the vehicle registration document.


To retain a registration means to move a registration number from a vehicle to a certificate. This allows the owner to retain the right to use the registration.


A vehicle that has been scrapped must be declared scrapped with the DVLA. You cannot transfer a registration off a vehicle that has been scrapped.

Show Plate

Show Plates are acrylic number plates that are used for off-road purposes. They can include non-standard spacing, funky fonts and badges.


Suffix registrations have 3 letters followed by up to 3 digits and a letter that identifies the year the number was issued.


This is the moving of a registration plate from one vehicle to another. There is a standard £80 fee to transfer number plates.

DVLA Information Number Plates

The register is not intended to establish legal ownership. To improve the accuracy of records, continuous registration or SORN (Statutory off road notification) has been introduced.

The Secretary of State for Transport is responsible for allocating DVLA Number Plates which provide a unique identifying mark. Legally, the number plate remains under the control of the Secretary of State and can be withdrawn if DVLA regulations are contravened. The relevant regulations are enshrined in the 1994 Vehicle Excise and Registrations Act (VERA).

A number plate was originally intended to remain with a particular vehicle until it is scrapped or permanently exported. However, because of public interest in private number plates, DVLA has put special regulations in place to facilitate the transfer of a registration mark from one vehicle to another. This procedure is referred to as the DVLA Cherished Transfer Scheme. There is also a retention scheme, which allows a mark to be taken off a vehicle and stored on a certificate.
An amendment to the Act, Section 27 of VERA gave DVLA the right to sell unallocated number plates. A new department, Sale of Marks (SOM), was changed to DVLA. The Agency now became able to sell off assets (namely unissued registration marks), contributing revenue directly to the Treasury.

Volkswagen Classic Car Number Plates

Since the introduction of the A prefix in August 1983, DVLA had withheld the issue of numbers 1-20 since there was no fair way to allocate such attractive registrations. This practice continued up to the issue of the H registrations in August 1990.

This scheme refers to the release of registration marks held on the DVLA computer, which have never been allocated. The number plate purchased is issued in the form of a certificate. The V750 is renewable each year for a fee of £25 and a nominee can be added or changed for a similar fee, the purchaser is legally in control, not the nominee and the £80 assignment fee, payable at the time of purchase, is shown on the certificate.

To assign the number plate, the customer must submit (to a local DVLA office) the signed V750 together with the V5/c and MOT (if required) and a photocopy of the licence disc or a tax application. The local office will issue a tax disc for the new number plate showing all the tax paid and re-stamp the MOT or, in the case of a VOSA MOT, issue a replacement showing the new number plate. The replacement V5/c comes directly for the DVLA Swansea.

It is important to remember, that in all cases regulations state that a number plate can not be used to make a vehicle look newer, and it must be legally spaced.
Copies of all the relevant legislation can be found at

Blue Car And Head Lamp

DVLA Private Number Plates Transfer and Retention Schemes

You must remember that DVLA rules are in place to guard against fraud.

There are 6 basic rules

  1. The vehicle must exist and hold a DVLA computerized V5/c.
  2. The vehicle must be registered at DVLA. Or the DVLAI for Ireland.
  3. The vehicle must be available for inspection. An inspection assists in verifying entitlement to the number plate. Both donor and recipient (rarely) can be called for inspection.
  4. The vehicle must be taxed or in the process of being taxed. However, in 2005 an amendment allowed a donor vehicle where the licence disc had been expired (not refunded) less than 12 months to take part in the scheme, providing, that SORN is declared upon expiry.
  5. The vehicle must be subject to MOT/HGV testing. Ie, non-testable vehicles such as milk floats, tractors etc are outside the scheme. This has led to some vehicles, such as hearses, choosing to undergo MOT,S when actually exempt so they could register with private number plates under the scheme.
  6. Only the registered keeper can apply to either transfer or retain the mark. However, a recent Act of Parliament will soon allow a 3rd party to apply at the point of retention with the keeper’s permission, of course. 
Dvla Personalised Registration

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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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