/Private Number Plates – How to Avoid an Earful From the DVLA

Private Number Plates – How to Avoid an Earful From the DVLA

These days, it’s pretty common to hear of folk investing in private number plates only to then get such a ticking-off from the DVLA that they wish they’d never bothered in the first place. Unsurprisingly, this is the kind of thing that has a tendency to put some would-be buyers off the idea entirely, having decided that they’d rather not take the risk. Others assume it’s simply too complicated to bother with given the fact that the result is something that’s technically 100% optional, but the simple truth of the matter is that in each and every instance when the DVLA steps in, it all comes down to the buyer making a blunder.


Technically speaking, buying a private plate or any number thereof has never been easier. It’s quite literally a case of finding a decent site, hammering home a few details and that’s it – the plate is yours. In fact, it’s quite remarkable to hear that so many buyers are still going wrong and ending up in more trouble than it’s worth, so what exactly is it that such folks are doing that the rest of us should avoid at all costs?

Buying Privately

Well, first of all there’s the mistake of buying private plates from some random seller by way of classified ads or online auction sites, despite having little to no proof that the plate you’re buying is in fact the real deal. The problem with buying privately from a standard private seller is that you have no idea whether the plate is genuine, or nothing more than an attractive decoration for wall-mounting in the garage. And what’s more, even if the plate is real, you can’t be sure that when you buy it they’ll take care of the proper DVLA admin bits and pieces as necessary. As such, buying private is only ever recommended for those who know exactly what they’re doing and can carry out all the necessary checks for themselves.

Lower-Rep Retailers

In terms of buying from a specialist private plate retailer, it generally makes a much safer option across the board though there are of course a great many exceptions. The reason being that just as is the case with the example above, it’s pretty easy for any random seller that doesn’t have a clue what they are doing to build a cheap website and sell dodgy plates for the price of their choosing. And of course, even when the plates are real there’s no way of knowing if they’ll tick all of the right DVLA boxes behind the scenes, so there’s always that chance of it being YOU that gets in trouble further down the line.

Fancy Fonts

Over recent months and years, the DVLA has begun clamping down on the use of fancy fonts more than ever before. You still see hundreds of the things on the roads every day right now and this gives the impression that it’s allowed or at least tolerated…sadly, it’s anything but. The fact that retailers are still selling number plates with all manner of weird and artistic lettering is pretty odd to say the least as they know 100% that if you get caught with them, you’ll be in a world of trouble. Admittedly, choice is pretty limited when it comes to the fonts and styles you can choose from, but sadly these are the rules…as they say!

Crafty Customisation

Something else you’ll have come across a million times over is the practice of using strategically placed nuts and bolts in very specific colours to make the plate look as if it says something different. A ‘C’ easily becomes an ‘E’ for example with a black bolt in the middle, though will at the same time make your new number plate illegal. Some are happy to take the risk, but the moment you get slapped with that fine, you’ll wish you never bothered.


Last but not least, when you buy your plate from a reputable seller you will be informed of exactly how long it takes before the transfer process is complete. It might be a week, a fortnight or even longer, but in all cases the worst thing you can do is jump the gun and head out with your soon-to-be new plate on your car. If you’re caught, you could end up facing a fine that’ll cost you way more than the new number plate that’s still not officially yours, so exercise patience and you’ll stay in the DVLA’s good books.