How Do I Sell My Number Plate?


Below is a complete guide to selling a number plate. This is the most comprehensive guide that exists anywhere online, and will take you through everything you need to know about selling a number plate, right from the basics.

Can I sell it?

First of all, before looking at how to sell your number plate, we need to establish whether or not, under the current regulations, you are able to sell the number plate.

To be able to sell your number plate, it needs to be either:

  • On a Vehicle which must be registered in your name for which you have the logbook (V5C), or 
  • On either a Certificate of Entitlement (V750), or Retention Document (V778).

If the registration is on a vehicle, you should check your V5C to ensure that the words 'non transferrable' do not appear on it. If they do, then unfortunately you will be unable sell your number plate as you cannot conduct a transfer.

Why would a registration be non-transferable? 

This is a question we’ve often been asked, so wanted to cover this here. The truth is, there can be several reasons, however, the most common is where someone has sold the original registration that was assigned to their vehicle and the DVLA have then issued the vehicle with a random replacement of the correct age/year. 
When they do this, they add on the non-transferable prohibition to stop the new number being sold or transferred, otherwise it would be too easy for people to keep selling the plate, asking for another, selling that too, asking for another, selling that, and so on forever! 
There are actually tales from years gone by, of number plate dealers buying ancient cheap mopeds and using them as an endless source of free, attractive registrations. When the DVLA wised up to this, they started making newly issued replacement numbers non transferrable. Anyway, we digress…

Where should I sell it?

When you decide to sell a number plate, you have two main options...

OPTION 1 - Sell Through A Number Plate Dealer

Number plate dealers are like estate agents in that they act as a middlemen between yourself and the buyer. They agree a value that they will aim to return you for your number plate, and then they advertise it on their website, deal with the buyer for you, take payment and handle the paperwork.

This hands-off approach is great if you want to sell without any hassle and without having to get involved, however it all comes at a cost. In exchange for their services, dealers add a markup to your plates price - often in the region of 30%. This means that a buyer actually pays 30% more for your plate than is actually returned to you.

As an example to bring this to life, this means that if your plate were to sell for £10,000, they would only return you around £7,000. You may also lose control of your registrations selling price, as dealers act on your behalf and their commission needs to be incorporated in the price.

If you are going to sell through a dealer, your first port of call should be one of the dealers belonging to the Cherished Numbers Dealers Association (CNDA). This group, set up by the Retail Motor Industry Federation, aims to instil confidence by making its members sign up to a strict code of conduct.

OPTION 2  - Sell Your Number Plate Privately

We all know that when we sell a car privately, we get a better deal, and the same can be said for private number plates. A little bit more work will be required on your part, but by cutting out the middlemen and dealing directly with the buyer of your number plate, you can avoid giving away a large percentage of your number plates' selling price.

Where is the best place to sell a number plate privately?

There are quite a number of options of places to advertise and sell your plate privately. Wherever you choose, you should make sure you are fully aware of the fees associated with selling. Auction sites like eBay for example, will allow you to sell privately and deal directly with the buyer, but this has its own issues, such as paying listing fees and re-listing fees to advertise and re-advertise, and a 10% 'Final Value Fee' if your plate sells.

This may not sound too bad if your plate is only worth a few hundred pounds, but can obviously be quite considerable on plates worth thousands of pounds.

If these fees put you off, then there are some free alternatives to eBay that you may want to consider, such as Gumtree, however, the general consensus in the industry is that these are not necessarily frequented by many number plate buyers, making it less likely that a buyer will find your plate.

It’s also worth mentioning that some sellers have reported that a number of “time wasters” frequent these sites as you can see here, here and here. Of course you cannot tar everyone with the same brush and say that everyone who looks on those sites is a time waster so they’re still definitely worth considering - after all, what have you got to lose by advertising there - it's free.

Another alternative is dedicated number plate classifieds sites like ours.

A number of years ago when we were looking to sell a plate and were considering these options, we thought to ourselves, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a classifieds site dedicated to buying and selling number plates privately, like an Auto Trader for personalised number plates?” - so we created one.

There are now a few websites like ours, as since then we have watched other sites come and go, and have seen sites copying our ideas and even our exact wording, but none of them seem to have made the impact that we have on the number plate market, creating a busy marketplace, frequented by both sellers and buyers - which if you actually want your plate to sell, is obviously important. 

One thing you may notice about other number plate classifieds sites is that they'll often try to get your money up front by charging a larger, one-off fee to place an advert, but then if no one finds your plate it’s too late as you’ve already paid and you’re out of pocket.

We try to do things a little differently. With us you can advertise from just £4.95 for a month or £29.95 for a year. We offer a free trial so you can try us out at no cost, and you are not tied in to any contracts so if you’re not happy or we don’t deliver, you can cancel at any time. 

How much is my plate worth?

Okay, so now we’ve established that you can sell your number plate and looked at the options of where to sell it, you are now faced with the tricky part - setting the asking price.

As you may have realised by now, putting a monetary value on a number plate can be very tricky, and it is crucial as it can mean the difference between your plate selling, and remaining unsold for a while.

If you are selling your plate with a dealer, you don’t often have control over the asking price as the dealer will generally provide you with a figure that they aim to return you, and will add their commission on top.

If you are selling privately then you have full control of setting the price yourself, however, you can still seek some expert help or guidance. We’ve actually written a pretty comprehensive guide to valuing number plates with some hints and tips on how to value your plate, so when you are finished with this article, it may be worth having a read of that. 

Also, it’s worth mentioning that we do offer independent number plate valuations, where we will manually research the number plate market for you to give you our opinion on how much the plate is worth and send you a valuation certificate. These cost just £9.99, or we do include them for free when you advertise your number plate with us using our Premium service. 

Why do we charge for valuations?

We’ve been told before that charging for valuations is ‘odd’ and asked why we charge when other sites don’t. The answer is simple. Most number plate sites offer a free valuation as a way of obtaining your details to try and sell your number plate on a commission basis and will usually have it in their T&C’s allowing them to do this unless you opt out.

In most cases, their valuations can be fairly inaccurate as they don’t provide an actual value, but rather a figure that they will return to you on sale. This figure is how much they’ll aim to give you after accounting for their commission but isn’t really an accurate representation of how much your number plate is actually worth.

Finally, some of them are computer generated, which means it just spits a figure out based on how many characters in the plate etc. and cannot actually see what it might mean or look like. 

The reason we charge for valuations is because our valuations are completely impartial and geniunely take us time to carry out. We complete each valuation manually using over a decade of experience and research to give you a truly accurate figure as to what we believe your plate is worth. We do not advertise your plate for sale (unless you place an advert) and don’t stand to make anything from valuing your plate.

Having said all of that, as mentioned above, we do actually include valuations for free with all Premium Adverts placed on our site. These adverts come with a free trial and the valuation is sent to you within 48 hours of advertising so you will receive it before you have paid anything.

If you’re not sure what price to enter when advertising in the mean time, you can tick the box that shows a price of ‘Make an offer’ which you can then edit if you like once you have received the valuation. If you then weren’t happy with the valuation or didn’t feel it was worth selling you could remove the advert and wouldn’t be charged a penny.

Anyway, that's enough self promotion, let's move on to the next step! 

Completing the sale and staying safe 

Okay, so once you have advertised your plate, found a buyer, and agreed a price, you now need to complete the sale.

If you’re using a dealer, you can skip over this section as they will handle this for you, however, for the purposes of this guide let’s assume you’re selling privately and we’ll cover the steps involved.

There’s a common misconception that managing a sale yourself might be difficult or tricky, and this sometimes puts people off selling privately, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, with the DVLA allowing you to remove and assign registrations online, it’s incredibly easy and most transactions can be completed in a matter of minutes. 

When selling a registration privately (i.e. directly to the buyer and not through a middleman), some people choose to complete the transaction in person to ensure all goes smoothly, however, this isn't always practical and often deals are done remotely.

For this reason, we are pleased to offer an escrow service, which, for a small fee, provides peace of mind and protection to both parties. The buyer makes their payment into a secure account, you as the seller are then notified that the payment has been made and you can transfer the registration, the registration is then transferred and the buyer confirms receipt, then the funds are released to you. In the unlikely event of any problems, our disputes team will protect you.

If you wish to proceed without using escrow, then the buyer will likely want to see proof of ownership before exchanging funds. For peace of mind, they may want to ask for a copy of the Logbook (V5C), Certificate of Entitlement (V750) or Retention Document (V778) or to prove that you own the rights to the registration, along with photo identification, before they send you any funds.

When providing these documents, make sure you conceal the certificate number/reference numbers as it's possible for someone to instantly transfer your private plate to their car using these numbers. It’s worth noting that these number appear in multiple places on the documents, so make sure you conceal every instance of it (see this guide for details of where the numbers appear).

If the registration is currently on a vehicle and you sending a copy of a V5C, make sure you to conceal the VIN number as well, as it’s possible for scammers to apply for a new log book if they have this.

In terms of them making the actual payment, if proceeding without using our escrow service then we would suggest using another secure service such as PayPal which provides some protection to both parties. If using PayPal, they should send the payment under the category of 'Goods and Services' to ensure both parties are protected. 

With the payment completed, you now need to transfer the registration. 

If it's currently on a vehicle then you should apply to take it off and put it on to a retention certificate. You can do this using the DVLA's new online service (please note this service is only available between the hours of 7am and 7pm) or if you prefer the old fashioned route you can complete a V317 application form. It costs £80 to remove a plate from a vehicle, however, do bear in mind that this includes the Assignment Fee, meaning that the buyer doesn't have to pay any further fees to put the plate on to their vehicle.

Once the number plate is off the vehicle and 'on retention' you can transfer it to the buyer. 

The easiest way to do this is to give the buyer the Certificate Number and direct them to the 'Assign a number plate' service on the DVLA website (please note this service is only available between the hours of 7am and 7pm). This will allow them to assign the registration to their vehicle instantly online and in doing so, will transfer rights/ownership of the registration to them. Alternatively, if they'd prefer the postal method, then you just need to sign & date in Sections 1 & 6 or your Retention Document and post it to the buyer using a trackable postal service. This also allows them to assign the registration to their vehicle and transfers rights/ownership of the registration to them.

That's all there is to it! 

Selling with a dealer is great for those people who want a hands-off, no hassle transaction and don't mind giving the dealer a portion of the sale price for their trouble.

Selling privately is not as difficult as you may have thought it was, and although it requires a bit more involvement from you, it's obviously the way to go if you want to keep as much of your selling price as possible.

If you learned anything from this guide at all, even if it's something really small, we want to hear from you. We love hearing how we've helped our readers, so please get in touch and let us know

We hope this guide has given you some valuable pointers on selling your number plate. If you are interested in selling privately and want more information about placing an advert on our site, please click the button below to find out more.

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