Personalising your vehicle

Custom number plates are an exciting addition to one’s motor vehicle. Number plates (or ‘licence plates’ to those of us inclined towards American phraseology) were developed solely for practical purposes, as a means of presenting a unique identifier for the various vehicles on the road, but the human tendency to envisage order from chaos was clearly underestimated, for these purportedly random combinations of letters and numbers were, before long, being imagined by motorists and pedestrians alike as spelling out words or short phrases.

It was therefore perhaps inevitable that those registration plates that were particularly suggestive of recognisable words would be valued by those with an eye for such novelty, and demand surged. To have a custom licence plate became a status symbol, and obtaining such an identifier for one’s car became a goal for many of those more inclined toward frivolous pursuits. To this day, they remain indicative of those with something of a sideways view on life who wish to demonstrate this through the combination of letters and numbers used to distinguish their vehicle from others.

Of course, it is important not to get so caught up in the thrill of obtaining a customised number plate that you find yourself wilfully breaking the law. To that end, it’s vital that you follow any necessary regulations in place which dictate how you may purchase and use personalised numbers.

Obtaining a custom number plate

First of all, you should understand how the issuing of custom number plates works. All plates necessarily originate with the DVLA, since only they have the authority to issue them. Many newer plates may therefore only be available from the DVLA, who have unsurprisingly got in on the act of selling registration numbers which may be of particular interest to motorists.

Of course, this does not mean that third-party sellers do not also offer a selection of custom registrations, and you may find that it is they who hold the rights to your desired number plate. Purchasing from a third party is still done under the auspices of the DVLA, as the third party must go through official channels to transfer the right to use the registration number to you.

Purchasing a number plate will get you a V750 certificate of entitlement or a V778 retention document which will need to be signed by the individual who is named at the top of the form. What you are getting when you purchase a custom registration plate is the right to assign that particular registration number to a vehicle you own.

When you buy one from a third party seller, you may elect to simply gain the right to use the number and assign it to a vehicle yourself, or they may offer to assign the number plate to your chosen vehicle for you, saving you time and effort. If you purchase from the DVLA, you will need to apply to your local DVLA office to assign the registration plate. The exact procedure should be explained on your V750 certificate.

If you choose not to assign your new number plate immediately, it is important to note that the V750 certificate does actually expire after a certain period of time. The exact date of expiry will be included on the certificate, but you can renew your entitlement for £25 a year paid to the DVLA. It can be renewed for an extra 1, 2 or 3 years.

Rules and restrictions on custom number plates

It is important to note that there are a few rules when it comes to what registration numbers you may use on a particular vehicle. It’s illegal to put a numberplate onto a car that makes it look newer than it actually is. You may also not place a personalised numberplate onto a car with a ‘Q’ registration.

To have the actual number plate assembled, you should go to a registered number plate supplier.