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Sourcing a registration

When trying to source a registration, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. Information on registrations that are not listed on our website is usually limited by data protection regulations, however when trying to look for a registration mark that isn’t featured in our search results there are a few key questions that need to be answered:-

  • Does the registration correctly follow a format that has actually been used?
  • Has the registration mark ever been issued by the Department for Transport?
  • Does someone already own the registration?
  • And is it currently for sale?

Does the registration follow the correct format?

All UK registrations must follow a specific format. Detailed information of these formats and styles can be found here but are also summarised below.

Dateless-Style registrations

  • Follow the format A* or *A, where A is a one to three- letter combination, and * is a number between 1 and 9999.
  • Does not contain a Q, I, or Z.
25 JR
999 ROB
AJL 33
ALF 45
XMA 55

Suffix-Style registrations

  • Follow the format BBB*A, where A represents the age of the vehicle and * is a one to three-digit number.
  • Does not contain a Q, I or Z. O and U appear in the first three letters only.
ANG 314D
EDW 412D
CAB 846E

Prefix-Style registrations

  • Follow the format A*BBB where A represents the age of the vehicle and * is a one to three-digit number
  • Does not contain a Q, I or Z. O and U appear in the last three letters only.
X999 ROB

Current-Style registrations

  • Follow the format AA**AAA, where * is a two-digit number representing the age of the vehicle.
  • Does not contain a Q or I. Z can appear in the last three letters only.

Irish-Style registrations

  • Follows the format AZ* where AZ is a 2 or 3 letter combination, and * is a number between 1 and 9999.
  • Always contains an I or Z.
RUI 10
IA 2
OI 3
TAZ 4710
3000 AZ

Has the registration ever been issued by the Department of Transport?

Once you have determined that your chosen registration follows a correct format, you can try to determine whether the Department for Transport has ever issued it.

The DVLA currently have an online service available which will allow you to see if a registration is currently assigned onto a vehicle. This Vehicle Enquiry Service can be found here

If the registration is currently assigned to a vehicle, the only organisation that will have information of the owner of the vehicle is the DVLA. Due to Data Protection regulations, the DVLA will only release this information for legally official requests, such as locating a car that has been involved in an accident, or to trace the registered keeper of an abandoned vehicle.

GDPR laws dictate that it is illegal for a company or government body to release personal information without the express permission of the owner. If a seller has listed their registration for sale with us, then we would be able to try to confirm its availability for you.

If the registration is not listed on the Vehicle Enquiry Service, it may still be in circulation. A registration can either be held on a vehicle or a Government holding certificate. If so, then as it is not presently on a vehicle it will not be on the DVLA vehicle database. If a vehicle has been scrapped or written off, its registration will once again not show on the Vehicle Enquiry Service and furthermore the rights to the registration of a scrapped vehicle will also be lost.

If a registration is held on a retention document, the DVLA will be the only organisation with direct access to the owner’s details. As mentioned above, the DVLA will be unable to release this information.

The DVLA may have also held back the registration and therefore it would not currently be in circulation. In such instances you may contact the DVLA to request that the registration be released in an upcoming auction.

Does someone already own the registration? Is it currently for sale?

A registration mark can either be held on a Vehicle Registration Document (V5C), a Certificate of Entitlement (V750) or a Retention Document (V778). If the owner of a registration is happy to offer their registration for sale, they are able to list their registration for sale, free of charge, using our sellers' service . If a registration is not currently listed, there is a chance that it may appear on our website in the future, as our website is updated daily.

There may be some companies that will offer to source a registration for you for a fee. It is always wise to be cautious when this service is offered as they may use unscrupulous methods to locate registrations. As mentioned previously, it is illegal to release personal information and the DVLA will only do so in extenuating circumstances. There have been instances where individuals have been imprisoned for breaching Data Protection Regulations.

If a company offers to source a registration for you, do not trust them. It is better to wait and see if a registration becomes available, or look for a suitable alternative. It is also important to always check a company’s credentials and reviews.

If a registration is also being listed through a third-party company, we also advise waiting until they are able to confirm that the registration is available before purchasing it. Our policy is to always speak to the seller and confirm that our records are up to date before we offer a registration for sale as many sellers choose to list their registration and forget to remove their listing when they sell it.

If you would like assistance in finding a registration mark or a suitable alternative, please click here to complete an enquiry form, or contact a member of our team on 01792 477316.