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DVLA Number Plates

 DVLA Number Plates are number plates issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. DVLA is the UK's governing body responsible for assigning, transferring and retaining personalised number plates.

DVLA - also known as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency - holds over 48 million driver records and over 40 million vehicle records, collecting around £6 billion a year in vehicle excise duty.

Dateless Number Plates

Dateless plates do not have the same restrictions as other plate types - they can be assigned to any vehicle. They are made up of a group of up to 3 letters and up to 4 numbers, either way around - i.e 381 KWP or KWP 381.

You will get the best results to view if you search for either letters OR numbers - i.e. searching for any BAZ plate or any plate with a 911 number. Registrations with fewer letters or fewer numbers are rarer than 3 letters with 4 numbers

IBZ 911
BS AU 145d

Current Style Numberplates

This is the style currently available when you buy a vehicle now. Current style number plates were introduced in September 2001 and they have a 2 digit year identifier, and 5 available letters, for example XX10 VEU (Kiss Kiss Love You).

PW11 TON
BS AU 145d

Prefix Number Plates

Prefix number plates were issued up until March 2001 and have the year letter at the beginning of the registration, for example B21 VAN. 

N21 SHA
BS AU 145d

What is the DVLA responsible for? 

- recording driver endorsements, disqualifications and medical conditions
- issuing photocard driving licences in GB mainland
- issuing vehicle registration certificates to vehicle keepers
- taking enforcement action against vehicle tax evaders
- registering and issuing tachograph cards
- selling DVLA personalised registrations
- helping the police and intelligence authorities deal with crime
- providing anonymised data to those who have the right to use the service

The DVLA was previously known as the DVLC (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre), and is an agency of the Department of Transport based at headquarters in Swansea. 

History of DVLA Number Plates

DVLA Number plates are registrations issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. The DVLA began selling their registrations at number plate auctions in the late 80s. DVLA Auctions are still popular today and have seen some record prices reached - 25 O was sold for £400,000 at an auction in November 2014!

The first DVLA Number plates available for sale were the 'H' prefix registrations in October 1990, ranging from 1-20. After this successful launch, the DVLA then issued the 'A' prefix in August 1991 - again only 20 combinations were issued. Number plate dealers and savvy investors bought up thousands of these number plates as there were a limited number available at the time - and some of these registrations now sell for ten times their original value.

These prefix registrations continued to be issued, adding more combinations to the range up until March 2000, when the current DVLA registration system came into use.

Where can DVLA Number Plates be Used?

DVLA Number Plates can be used on DVLA registered vehicles. Some types of DVLA number plate, such as those registered before 1963 or in Northern Ireland, allow you to hide the age of a vehicle. DVLA Registrations can also be used as personalised number plates, to represent your name, job or hobby, for example.

DVLA Number Plate FAQS

We have put together this set of frequently asked questions relating to the transfer of DVLA-based personalised registration numbers. 

1. What will happen to my current DVLA car registration number when I purchase a new private number plate?

In 99% of Cherished Transfers the base mark (i.e. the original number plates assigned to the vehicle at first registration) will be re-allocated to the vehicle on completion of the transfer by the DVLA.

2. What does it mean if my current V5C Registration Certificate states that the registration is non-transferable?
There is no problem transferring a DVLA Number Plate onto your vehicle, however, you will not be able to transfer or retain the current registration number.

3. What do DVLA and DOT stand for?
DVLA: Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency
DOT: Department of Transport

4. Will there be any age restrictions for transferring DVLA Number Plates on my vehicle?
Yes, DVLA registrations are dated registrations and therefore you cannot purchase a DVLA plate which would make your vehicle appear younger.

For example, OO02 BED (issued in 2002) cannot be transferred onto a 1997 vehicle, however, if your vehicle was first registered in 2003, there would be no problem in transferring OO02 BED onto it as it would actually make your vehicle appear older – which is fine.

5. If I have a “Q” registration on my vehicle will I be able to transfer a DVLA plate onto my vehicle?

Unfortunately you will not be able to transfer a DVLA number plate onto your vehicle.

6. Can I transfer a registration onto my vehicle and at the same transfer my current number to another vehicle?

Yes, we can transfer a DVLA Number Plate onto your vehicle and at the same time transfer your current registration off the vehicle - this is called a double transfer.

In order for us to complete the double transfer we will require the following documents:

V5C—Vehicle Registration Certificate for both vehicles
V317 Transfer Form
An extra £80 cheque payable to DOT

If you do not have a vehicle to transfer this registration onto, it can be transferred onto a Retention Certificate, to do this we will require the following:

V317 Transfer and Retention application form
V5C—Vehicle Registration Certificate
Cheque for £80 made payable to DVLA

7. Can I transfer a DVLA number plate onto my motorcycle?

Yes there is no restriction in transferring a DVLA Number Plate onto your motorcycle provided it is currently taxed.


If you have a question that we haven't answered, or you'd like help purchasing a DVLA number plate, please get in touch via our contact form, or call us on 02866 387124 during office hours

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