Tips to choose a private number plate for your vehicle

Private number plates are the ultimate form of branding, self-expression and creativity. These tips will help you choose the right one.

Personalised number plates are a fantastic way to get creative with your vehicle. If you own a business they make great branding and even if you only use your car for personal use they’re a brilliant way to show some character. These quick tips should help you get started.

How to format private number plates?

First and foremost you’ll need to understand how private plates work. While the process might seem simple enough, there are a few things to bear in mind. Rather than making last minute tweaks and changes, it’s best to have a basic grasp of the framework from the beginning.

All number plates in the UK must comply with government acclaimed agency guidelines. Although these rules are extremely flexible, they do preclude you from having a number plate that consists solely of letters, so you won’t be able to spell out your name exactly! The same applies to numbers, so you’ll need a good mix of the two. It’s also highly illegal to try and make your vehicle seem newer than it is, for example by putting 2011 plates on a car from 2009.

That said, there are still plenty of customisation options and the government accredited agencies allow three different types of plate. The first (or classic styled plate) comprises five characters in the following order: a letter, a number and then three letters. Dateless style plates are the easiest to customise because they can contain any combination of letters and numbers (although the letters must appear first). They’re perfect for spelling out words, car models or names. ‘Current’ plates are slightly more complicated. They consist of seven characters arranged thusly: two letters, two numbers and then three more letters.

These options are fairly broad and offer a good level of customisation, but it’s important not to get too carried away and remember to work within these boundaries.

Choosing private number plates

Flexibility is key when choosing a new plate. Personalised plates are growing in popularity, so there’s a good chance that your first choice might not be available. It’s important to have some backups. One of the most popular personal plates is the date of birth/initials combination. Let’s say your name is Thomas Robert Smith and you were born on 23rd July. This would translate to TRS 237 and give your vehicle a very personalised look. Twists on the model number are also popular, so if you happen to own a luxury car you might incorporate those digits into the plate.

Moving into slightly more complex territory, you can use numbers to represent letters. For example, the number 5 is routinely used as an S, 0s make excellent substitutes for the letter O, and of course 1 and L are largely interchangeable. Since you’ll need to format any plate to the aforementioned government accredited agency standards, utilising numbers as letters is essential. Once you start to mix and match the opportunities become nearly endless.

Of course, significant dates are also extremely popular and easy to render. A child’s birthday, the day you met your partner, even a lucky number, all of these and many more appear regularly on private plates. Whatever you choose it’s important to establish a budget and stick to it. Private plates have a wide price variation depending on where you get them from, ranging from the low hundreds into the thousands.

A quick note on branding and private number plates

If you run your own business or work as part of franchise, personalised plates can be an extremely effective marketing tool. Not only do private plates boost name recognition but they bolster your company’s prestige. Quite simply, a car with company plates looks impressive and suggests that the company is an established name. Again, there are no hard and fast rules (apart from those government accredited agency guidelines) but an abbreviated version of your company name is usually more than sufficient.

Private number plates are a fun way to customise your car and make it that bit more special. Although there are some guidelines it’s easy to work around them if you’re willing to flex your creative muscles and stand out from the crowd!

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