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DVLA report £2 billion made from private number plates!

In the time the DVLA has been providing personalised registrations it has put a staggering £2 billion in the coffers of the Treasury. Last year alone, an impressive £116 million went to the Treasury as a result of the sale of personal registrations.

DVLA registration auctions have increased by 50x since their introduction.

Here at Plates4less, we’ve been trading in private number plates since 1997, and in those 20 plus years of experience we’ve seen many changes in the industry. The styles of registration have changed, as have the favoured choices of our customers, and with the DVLA granting us access to their previously unissued registrations and publishing this recent report, we felt it a good time to reflect on where we are in the number plate industry.

Contributing to these sales are the DVLA auctions held several times throughout the year. In 1989, during the very first of these, only 74 registrations were offered, but fast forward to this year and July’s auction saw 1,250 lots available to the public. The most expensive registration in that first auction was 1 A, fetching £160,000, whereas the most expensive so far was 25 O, which sold in 2014 for a whopping £400,000!

Personalised plates are becoming more and more popular. In 1989, 658 were sold in total by the DVLA, but that leapt up to 26,161 in just the following year. Skip to 2018/2019 and people bought over 400,000 of them! In total, since that first auction 30 years ago, people have bought nearly 6 million personal registrations, and they don’t seem set to stop anytime soon.


At Plates4less, we offer more than 60,200,000 (over 60 million!) registrations, with a wide range on our website from private sellers, businesses, and investors. Such an extensive selection is vital as private number plates continue to prove very popular with the public, especially as gifts, with 20% of purchases being for this particular purpose.

One of the main reasons people buy private registrations is to represent a name – and not always their own! The names of loved ones, pets, even the name of the car; all are popular choices.

The top ten searches on our site are as follows:

1. Sam 2. Dan 3. Tom 4. Boss 5. BMW 6. Ben 7. Lee 8. Amy 9. Chris 10. Ash

Other people use registrations to represent a business or profession, making the plate a form of advertising. They also make great low maintenance investments as they tend to maintain or increase in value over time. And with sales of new cars falling each year recently, a new registration can serve to disguise the age of an old vehicle you may wish to keep a little longer.

The most popular styles of plate are:

Prefix Style 53% e.g. T5 REG
Current Style 44% e.g. PR17 ATE
Northern Irish Style 2% e.g. PNZ 474
Suffix Style <1% e.g. REG 6S
Dateless Style <1% e.g. REG 555

Private registrations are also far more affordable than many people think, and while some do fetch the same price as a house, the cheapest sell for less than £300; these are the ones responsible for putting so much money in the Treasury, with thousands sold every year.

At Plates4less, you can use our search system to find that perfect plate for you, and even see what it would look like on a range of different vehicles. Take a look for yourself at Plates4Less

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Any opinions expressed in this article are those of the Author and not Plates4less - VRM Swansea. Any images used are for illustration purposes only and are covered under fair use.