How much is my private plate worth?
If you are considering selling a personalised plate, the most important thing to get right is the asking price. There are plenty of overpriced private plates on the market where people have been misled, are too greedy or are just plain naive and unrealistic.
There are several factors that when considered carefully, yield the true value of a private plate. The criteria we use when making number plate valuations are summarised below and further down you’ll find more detailed descriptions (click a topic below for more detail). Note that all criteria should be considered together since they all have an influence – don’t consider an individual factor on it’s own.
- Age (generally, the older the number plate, the higher the price)
- Rarity (how many similar registration numbers were issued)
- Popularity of Names / Initials (how common the represented names and initials are)
- Numbers (the value / relevance of the numbers portion in a private plate)
- Letters (the value of the three consecutive letters in a registration mark)
- Price Trends (prices of similar personalised plates on the market, past and present)
- Match Quality (the faithfulness of the number plate representation of a name / word)
- Style of Plate (value can depend on style: new style, prefix, suffix, dateless and Irish)
- Type of Match (names, words, initials and vehicle make / models affect price)
Number Plate Age
Generally, the earlier the issue date of a registration number, the higher its value. Dateless number plates, first issued in 1903 tend to command the highest prices whereas current style number plates tend to be among the cheapest. Of course there are other factors too as discussed below.
Rarity of Number Plates
The number of registration plates issued in a given range influences the value of a mark to a large extent. For example, there were far less dateless registrations released than there were in any other range and so they tend to enjoy a higher value. In addition, the rarity of a name or word match greatly affects the value irrespective of the year or style; if there are several number plates that can represent a given name / word, then they are probably worth less than a registration number that is unique to another represented name / word. In other words, the value of a registration plate will depend on how many other similar registrations are available. However, when considering this, the match quality should be taken into consideration. See also Match Quality and Type of Match.
Popularity of Names and Initials
Common names and initials represented on available number plates are among the most sought after. A registration mark demonstrating a popular name will be in high demand as will a registration plate containing common initials, raising the value (see below for more information and examples). Some good examples would be XX5I MON and 4 SUE. Similarly, plates that represent the names of popular car models / makes are highly desirable, for example MAZ I234 (Mazda) and AII BMW.
The numbers portion of registration marks is certainly taken into consideration. The lowness of the number and the number of digits can make quite a difference. For example, the numbers 4 and 12 would add more appeal than the numbers 23, 27 or 400. Registrations with just the number 1 are by far the most sought after.
Dateless registration plates have between one and four digits. Single and double digits are naturally in less abundance and as such, are more sought after. For example, JON 3 would be worth a lot more than JON 4539.
The popularity of the number is also something to factor in; sequential numbers such as 123, repeated numbers, for example, 22 and 333 and numbers of occasion such as 18 and 21 all influence the overall desire of number plates.
First, consider the popularity of initials. There exist combinations of initials that are more common than others. For example, there are far more people with the initials JPS than there are with GWL and as such SI2 JPS for example, will be worth considerably more than, say SI2 GWL.
The number of letters is a factor too. The dateless styles of registration marks have between one and three consecutive letters where all other styles are guaranteed to have three consecutive letters. Consequently, dateless marks that have one or two letters are worth more than one with three, even for a similar set of initials. For example, JS 42 and J 42 are both worth more than JPS 42.
Consider the inherent rarity of some letter combinations. For dateless registration marks, there are combinations of letters that were released twice, first in the letters followed by numbers range, issued from 1903, then in later years, the visa versa. For example, JS I2 and 567 JS. However, there are some combinations of letters that were not issued again when the reverse formats were released. This makes them less common and adds to their value.
Private Plate Price Trends
Market trends are a reliable guide to the value of private plates. Careful comparisons with similar registration numbers currently on the market can endow one with pricing knowledge leading to a good indication of the true value of a personalised plate. Some number plate dealers tend to have a bias on the value of their stock, therefore it’s important to consider registrations from a variety of sources to converge on realistic market values.
The match quality, the level of geometric correlation of a name / word and a registration number, has an enormous bearing on value. Other factors like the popularity of the name or word itself, the style of registration and the representing proportion of the registration, all need to be taken into account but for name and word type matches the match quality is one of the most influential.
The match quality itself constitutes a number of factors. The principal ones include the number of redundant characters in the registration (those that don’t form part of the name / word), the suitability of a number substituting a letter, the number of any repeated letters and variations in the spelling needed to forge a match. These are best illustrated with examples:-
- GI6 LLL Intended match: “GILL” Match detraction: Redundant number 6 and a repeated letter L.
- JI7 MES Intended match: “JAMES” Match detraction: I7 does not represent an A as well as a 4 does.
- S4 MMM Intended match: “SAM” Match detraction: Repeated letter M.
- EI2 VYN Intended match: “ERVIN” Match detraction: Variation in the spelling since a Y has substituted the letter I.
- CHR IS Intended match: “CHRIS” A perfect match!
Note that where there are redundant letters or numbers that repeat or look similar to the nearest letter that forms part of the name / word, the appeal would tend to increase. For example, for the name Jon, J7 JON looks better and would be worth more than Y44 JON.
Number Plate Styles
There are effectively five styles of number plates on UK road vehicles today. Namely, new or current style, prefix style, suffix style, dateless style and Irish number plates. The style of registration unquestionably has some authority on value.
New style number plates, first issued in September 2001 and still readily available, have the most number of permutations. This is the main reason why they tend to be less appealing and attract less money, especially if the type of match is just with the initials (no name or word match). In addition, they are too new to assign to the many older vehicles that are still on the road (a vehicle cannot me made to appear younger than it’s true age).
Of course there are exceptions where a new style registration represents a word, a name, combinations of or two names / words, for example, AR5I NAL, BO55 SAM and JO54 TOM. Number plates that start with meaningful letter combinations tend to be more popular, for example, MR, MS, YO, MY and XX.
Prefix style number plates, issued between 1st August 1983 and 31st August 2001, are still readily available and tend to offer more appeal than the current style of registrations since they can be assigned to more vehicles and can be made up of fewer total characters. Prefix marks with lower digits (from 1 to 9) and earlier prefixes (for example A and D) are not so easy to obtain now, hence they draw higher prices. Examples include FI2 JON and X8 JPS.
Suffix style number plates, issued between 1st February 1963 and 31st July 1983, are a reverse format of the prefix style. Fewer were released than what were for later styles and generally, they are far less available making them quite rare, so they tend to fetch higher prices than equivalent prefix style registration numbers. A few examples would be JPS 8X and JON I2F.
Dateless number plates, issued between 1903 and 1963, do not have a year identifier, can be made up of just a few digits and are by far the most rare. Since they are dateless, people can conceal the age of their vehicle. Constituting up to three letters and four number digits, they can be letters followed by a number or visa versa. Without doubt, these original style registration numbers are by far the most sought after. Due to many factors, the price range for this style of registration is diverse, although the most expensive registrations are found in this range, some as much as hundreds of thousands of pounds. Examples include, JS I, 69 JPS and I234 JON.
Irish number plates, first released in 1903 and not to be confused with the dateless registrations, have grown in their appeal since the explosion of the number plates industry. Irish number plates are distinguished from dateless registrations by the inclusion of one of two letters, “I” and “Z” but are otherwise similar in style. This inclusion limits the range of available plates. Irish number plates are considered “dateless” since they don’t have a year identifier.
Generally, Irish personalised plates are less expensive than the other styles and offer a cheaper way to disguise the age of a vehicle. There are plenty of Irish private plates available for under £100. However, registrations that represent a name or a word will fetch much higher prices. The digits have an effect on the price too. Good examples include BAZ 2709, BIL 55 and 20 OZ.
Type of Match
Since the rapid rise of the number plates industry, several classes of number plate representations or types or match have been conceived. The most common are names, words, initials, car models / makes and combinations of.
Name number plates. Registrations marks that are good representations of names (first name or surname) can be among the most prestige and desirable. Plates of “exact fit” matches command higher prices than ones of partial matches, for example, SI MON and V2I SAM, respectively. See more examples below.
Generally, the number of registrations available that represent a name or word influence the value. For example, there are many plates that contain the name “TOM” (AI2 TOM, H55 TOM, XI2 TOM etc...) but far fewer for “SARAH” (S4 RAH, SAR 4H). Additionally, the age and style of a registration guide the price, for example, FI2 OST (prefix style) would be worth less than FRO 5T (suffix style). There are always exceptions of course and the quality of the match is often a source; see the Match Quality section.
Examples of registration plate variations for the name “SALLY”.
- S4 LLY, V54 LLY (prefix style)
- SAL IY (suffix style)
- XX54 LLY, OH54 LLY (current style)
- 54 LLY (dateless style)
Word number plates. Similarly, number plates that spell out words are highly desirable. These can be words associated with fun, industry, profession, sport, power and speed etc. As with name number plates, the number of registrations available that represent a word (which is closely linked to the proportion of the plate that matches the word) and the style of the registration, dictate the price of a word plate to a large extent. For more information see the Match Quality section.
Some examples of words on number plates:-
- W4 TER, AI0 LOO (plumbing industry)
- EI2 RGY (energy industry)
- S3 XXY (fun related)
- HOR 5E (sport related)
- BA55 OON (music related)
MR, MRS, MISS, BOY, SEXY and BOSS are examples of shorter words with particular appeal. These often appear in combination with names and initials and are highly desirable. Common examples are:-
- BO55 TOM
- AU5I SUE (“Ozzy” Sue)
- MI2 JON (Mr. Jon)
Initials on a number plate. The most popular of all are initials on a personalised number plate. Generally, since a given set of initials form part of many available registrations, giving the most choice, the majority tend to be relatively cheap. However, prices can vary widely due to many factors including the commonness of the initials, the style and year of the plate and the number combination.
By contrast, consider the plates with initials VI JMS and K444 EYD. The first plate has far more popular initials and has a desirable prefix and number. As such it would attract a much higher price.
Car make / model number plates. These are extremely popular. As with name and word plates, the value of such registration numbers depends on the number of similar registrations available, the age and the style (current style, prefix style, suffix style, dateless style or Irish style) and the number combination. Classic examples are:-
- V8 BMW
- WH05 BUG
- TVR IV
- MAZ 626