A personalised number plate is a stamp of affluence, a mark of individuality in an increasingly uniform world. It's a statement that says, 'I'm not a number' and isn't afraid to broadcast the fact to the world.
In practical terms, personalised number plates can set you back several hundred thousand pounds - so, is it really worth it?
Proponents of private plates claim the purchase is an 'investment'. The value of the plate is likely to increase, as sought-after letter and number combinations are always in demand. Collectors of quirky and unique car identifiers are often prepared to pay huge sums to secure the plate they want.
But in this uncertain economic climate, investments such as these always come with associated risks. As the recession hits, more and more people are cutting out luxuries like personalised plates, designer clothes and exclusive brands.
For some, however, the prestige associated with private plates is worth any money. If you own one, you belong to a club that has countless high-profile celebrity members. You're up there with the likes of Nicky Clarke (H4I RDO), Amir Khan (BOX IIIG), Lord Sugar (AMS 1), and Paul Daniels (MAG 1C).
One of the most prestigious plates is the Queen's A 7 registration, which she has had since 1903. These premier plates were offered on a first-come-first-served basis to people who queued outside the London City Council offices all night. Earl Russell was there to take the most iconic A 1 plate. Presumably, a representative of the Queen (and not the Queen herself) kept the night-long vigil to secure her famous number.
These days, getting hold of a private plate is a bit more straightforward, although there are specific requirements that must be met in order to satisfy the DVLA.
Legal requirements for personalised plates
(Visit the DVLA website http://dvlaregistrations.direct.gov.uk/help/questions-before-a-purchase.html for more details on these requirements).
- If your personalised registration plate has an age identifier number, you can only put that plate on a vehicle of equal or newer age.
- Your vehicle must be registered (or about to be registered) in Great Britain in your name.
- Your vehicle must be taxed at the time of application.
- Your vehicle must have a valid MoT of Good Vehicle Test certificate.
- If you are buying a plate as a gift for someone else, ensure you enter their name as part of the registration purchase, and make sure their name matches the name on the vehicle's registration documents.
- You cannot use a personalised registration plate on a Q registered vehicle.
The DVLA recommends purchasing private plates through their official auctions, but there are plenty of dealers that sell them at relatively low prices. The next DVLA auctions will be held at Heritage Motor Centre, Warwickshire on the 25th, 26th and 27th July 2013, and there is a useful number search on their website that will help you find the perfect plate for you.