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How buying replacement number plates works

Buying replacement number plates used to be easy. All it took was a quick trip to the local car accessories shop or market stall. You'd even find people making up number plates at car boot sales. But then the regulations tightened up.

The use of cloned (copied) or stolen number plates in offences such as driving off without paying for fuel and evading congestion charges was perceived to increase. False plates have also been used to dodge parking and speeding penalties. New legislation was put in place and tight restrictions introduced on who can make number plates and how they can sell them.

Number plate manufacturers now have to be registered with DVLA/DfT. They have to manufacture number plates in compliance with strict rules governing the physical properties of the plates, the characters used to display the registration number and any decoration such as flags, borders etc. Manufacturers must also mark each plate with information identifying them as the maker.

Read the number plates rules for detailed information on fonts and spacing.

In addition to the tightened regulation of manufacture, extra precautions were introduced at the point of sale. Purchasers now have to produce an array of documents proving their entitlement to buy the number plates for a registration number, and to establish their identity.

Proof of identity and address

DVLA state that:

One or more of the following documents is acceptable as proof of identity and address

  • Driving licence
  • Utility, Council Tax or rates bill from the last 6 months
  • Bank or building society statement from the last 6 months
  • National identity card

The following documents are acceptable as proof of identity

  • passport - doesn’t have to be issued in the UK
  • bank or building society debit or credit card
  • police warrant card
  • armed forces identity card

But as you are required to prove address as well as identity, we wonder what use any of the documents in the second list is unless you already have one from the first list that proves both!

Proof of entitlement

To satisfy the requirement for proof of entitlement to buy number plates to display the registration, one of the following documents is acceptable:

  • V5C vehicle registration certificate or V5CNI in Northern Ireland (AKA the car's log book)
  • the car's V5C/2 or V5C/2NI new keeper supplement
  • V750 or V750NI certificate of entitlement
  • V778 retention document for the registration
  • car tax renewal reminder showing the registration
  • V379 or V379NI temporary registration certificate
  • an officially stamped V948 number plate authorisation certificate, or the electronic version (eV948)
  • letter of authorisation from a fleet operator (including lease or hire company) quoting the document reference number from the registration certificate
  • if your fleet is in the new V5C on demand scheme, a PDF of the vehicle’s details from the view vehicle record service

It is still possible to find companies and individuals prepared to break the law and to produce number plates that do not comply to regulations. These parties are generally not registered and they do not insist upon sight of the required documents.

Our top tip: We strongly recommend that you avoid these illegal services. Enforcement is becoming more stringent, the penalties for selling and displaying illegal plates are harsh and getting harsher, and illegal number plates are often pretty easy to spot.

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The role of DVLA

Car registrations and number plates, including personalised number plates, in the UK, are the responsibility of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, usually known as the DVLA. It issues new registrations twice a year and also maintains the central database that records details of all vehicles licensed to drive on UK roads, along with their keeper and registration information.

Regtransfers works closely with DVLA to complete registration transfers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Regtransfers is a DVLA-registered supplier of personal car registrations and number plates and is listed on the DVLA Registrations website. All number plates supplied by Regtransfers comply with DVLA's prescribed standards and regulations.

DVLA administers all UK registration transfers and issues updated registration documents when the registration number of a car is changed, or when a registration is removed from a vehicle and placed on a retention document in accordance with the DVLA Retention Scheme.

DVLA is a registered trade mark of the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency. Regtransfers is not affiliated with the DVLA or DVLA Personalised Registrations. Regtransfers is a recognised reseller of unissued Government stock.

Number plate regulations

When a car is on the road, it is an offence to display number plates bearing any number other than the vehicle's officially recorded registration number. If you purchase a private registration, learn how to transfer private plates before displaying the new number.

All registration number plates displayed on UK vehicles must comply with the official number plate regulations. DVLA oversees enforcement of number plates display regulations and maintains a register of approved manufacturers and retailers of vehicle number plates.

Regtransfers is not part of, and is not formally affiliated with DVLA.

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