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Finding FAQs

Can I use UK mainland private number plates on my Northern Ireland registered Vehicle?

Yes. The DVLA based here in Swansea has now become the overarching body for all vehicle licensing in the UK, including Northern Ireland. The transfer process for customers in Northern Ireland is now exactly the same as that for customers on the mainland — quicker, simpler and £180 cheaper than in the past! So, if your vehicle is registered in Northern Ireland you can proceed to purchase any GB private number plate (that is suitable for your vehicle’s age) at no extra cost!

Can I use a Northern Ireland (NI) private number plate on my UK vehicle?

Yes. The DVLA based here in Swansea has now become the overarching body for all vehicle licensing in the UK, including Northern Ireland. This means you can easily transfer a Northern Ireland format private numberplate to your UK vehicle. Northern Ireland format registrations don’t carry age identifiers either, so they’re suitable for vehicles of any age.

Can I use an Isle of Man private number plate on my UK or Northern Ireland vehicle?

Combinations of vehicle registrations containing the word ‘MAN’ are only available in the Isle of Man and cannot be transferred to UK or NI registered vehicles. Similarly, private numberplates bearing a three letter sequence ending MN are restricted to Isle of Man vehicles (though a three letter combination beginning MN is allowed in the UK). Although the Isle of Man is part of the British Isles, it effectively has its own Government and vehicle registration system, therefore Isle of Man registrations cannot be transferred to vehicles registered at DVLA Swansea.

Can I use a Channel Islands private number plate on my UK or Northern Ireland vehicle?

Unfortunately not. Jersey registrations, consisting of the letter ‘J’ followed by one to six digits, or ‘JSY’ followed by one to three digits, can only be used in Jersey. Guernsey registrations, featuring up to 5 numbers without any letters at all, can only be used on vehicles registered in Guernsey.

My vehicle has a “Q” prefix registration number plate - can it participate in the transfer and retention processes?

Unfortunately the answer is no. Vehicles are given a “Q” registration mark by the DVLA when the origin or vehicle age is uncertain. “Q” numbers are therefore non-transferable and must remain with the vehicle unless documentary evidence, which confirms the vehicle’s origin or age, comes to the attention of the DVLA. If you are in possession of such documentary evidence then you should contact the DVLA, who may then assign a replacement age-related registration number plate to the vehicle. If the DVLA authorise such a change and your vehicle is assigned a standard registration mark, then your vehicle may take part in the transfer and retention processes, although the registration mark replacing your Q plate will be non-transferrable.

The private number plate that I want is not listed for sale - can you find it for me?

Only the DVLA holds records regarding the vehicle and Keeper history associated with particular registrations. Due to the Data Protection Act they are unable to disclose many details, especially details concerning previous or current Registered Keepers. For more information you can contact DVLA enquiries on 0300 790 6802. Alternatively, contact us on 01792 477316 and we will be happy to assist you with finding an alternative.

Why do I need to check the age of my vehicle?

The majority of registration marks carry an ‘age identifier’ which relates to the date when the mark was released. Our government is keen to prevent fraudsters attempting to make vehicles look newer than they actually are. To prevent this from happening, the DVLA does not permit newer registration marks to be transferred to older vehicles. However, it does permit older marks to be transferred to newer vehicles without hindrance.

Please note that some registration marks do not carry an ‘age identifier’ within their sequence (please see below for examples). This is true of mainland UK registrations released before 1963 and all Northern Ireland format registration marks. These two types of registration mark can be transferred to any age vehicle. All other types of registration marks carry ‘age identifiers’ and so if you choose one of these it’s always best to check if it can be legally transferred to your chosen vehicle before you buy it.

Examples of registration types and age identifiers

Mainland UK dateless number plates (issued between 1903 and 1963)

No age identifier

A 1
A 123
ABC 123
1 A
123 A
123 ABC

Northern Ireland number plates (from 1903)

No age identifier

1 AZ
AZ 1
AZ 1234
GIL 123
GAZ 1234
BIG 1234
JUI 135

Suffix number plates (Issued between 1963 and 1983)

Age identifier is the last letter (suffix).

ABC 123F

Prefix number plates (issued between 1983 and 2001)

Age identifier is the first letter (prefix).

A123 ABC
A117 ONY
K155 ESS

Current style/new style number plates (from 2001)

Age identifier is the number group.


Can I invent my own private number plate?

Unfortunately the answer is no. In some countries, such as the USA, your private numberplate can be anything at all (so long as it’s not offensive!). In the UK, however, you cannot simply make up private number plates. This is why there is such a high demand for good private numbers and why many are so valuable.

All registration numbers are formatted in a specific way, as per the Government guidelines. There are different style marks, such as Prefix, Current, Suffix, Dateless and Irish Style and you can sometimes choose specific letter/number combinations to find a suitable private number plate. Why not contact us and let us do the search for you? We can send you a list of suggested registrations to suit your criteria.

Why do some of the private number plates say ‘CHECK IT NOW’ next to them?

As you browse through our registrations, you will notice that they are listed with different descriptions such as ‘AVAILABLE NOW or ‘CHECK IT NOW’.

  • CHECK IT NOW: These registrations are privately owned and we are acting for the seller as their agent. If you enquire into one of these private numberplates, we will contact the seller to confirm availability and other details, before proceeding.

  • NEW - AVAILABLE NOW: You will be the first person to own the exclusive rights to use these registration marks. You can offer to purchase these over the phone or online immediately, with a choice of transfer options.

  • PRE-OWNED - AVAILABLE NOW: These registrations are already in private ownership but are available to buy straight away over the phone or online. Some are held on certificates and some are being used on vehicles, so transfer options will vary.

  • NEW RELEASE - HOW TO BUY: These registration marks are new-series government releases, which occur twice each year. They have never existed before and will be released as part of the next registration mark sequence.

What transfer rules do I need to consider?

In order to have a private number plate assigned to your vehicle, the vehicle must be: An appropriate age to receive the private number plate. (See ‘Why do I need to check the age of my vehicle?’ above.) Registered, or due to be registered, in Great Britain or Northern Ireland, in your name or in the name of the Nominee. The Nominee name must match the present registered Keeper of the vehicle, which can be you, someone else or a firm such as a leasing company. Taxed, due to be taxed, or have a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) in place at the time of the transfer assignment application. Please note that your vehicle will need to be taxed if it’s had a SORN in place for longer than 5 years. A type that has, or will have, an MOT or Goods Vehicle Test (GVT) certificate. Not registered in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, or carry a Q registration plate.

Can agricultural vehicles take part in a registration transfer?

Only MOT testable vehicles can take part in the scheme e.g. not tractors, road repairing machines or agricultural vehicles.

Do I have to transfer the private number plate straight away?

If the private numberplate you’re purchasing is a previously unissued one (i.e., you’ll be the first owner), then transfers can be completed whenever you’re ready; the registration can be held on a certificate indefinitely (though after ten years you will need to renew your certificate, which may incur an additional cost).

With a pre-owned registration the process is slightly different and some delayed transfers may incur an additional cost. See our Purchase Options Explained or read the information displayed when you view the private number plate for more information.