Why are private number plates so expensive?

Written by RegCompare| May 31, 2019| Advice

Why are private number plates so expensive?

People often ask, why are private number plates so expensive? And whilst there are certainly some expensive plates out there (the most expensive plate sold so far was ’25 O’ for £400,000 in 2014), there are also a lot of reasonably priced plates too. So what influences the value of private number plate in the UK?

The value of a number plate is largely driven by supply and demand. Rare and unique number plates (e.g. one letter one number dateless plates) have low supply as a direct result of only small number of combinations available. Their rarity also makes them more desirable to those who want a plate that stands out from the masses. Whereas a current style plate (see below) has far more combinations available, and so the uniqueness really comes from what they mean to the owner (e.g. their initials). Current style plates therefore have higher supply and lower demand for individual combinations, which drives their value down.

The type of private number plate you go for will impact the number of combinations available, and therefore has one of the biggest influences on value. More information on the different types of number plates are below:

Current Style refers to a private number plate that is in the same format as standard issue number plates that have been in use since 2001. The follow the format two letters / two numbers / two letters e.g.


Plates in this format tend to be some of the cheapest private number plates on the market and can often be picked up for a couple of hundred pounds.

Prefix Style refers to a private number plate that matches the format of DVLA issued plates between 1983 and 2001. These plates follow the format letter / up to three numbers / three letters e.g.



A111 AAA

Prefix style plates are rarer and they can be more desirable as they stand out more as personalised number plates when compared to the current style, both of which can increase the value of a plate. Even within the prefix style there can be some big variations, for example, plates with only one number tend to be more expensive than plates with three numbers.

Suffix Style was the DVLA format that was used between the years of 1963 and 1982. This style has the format three letters / up to three numbers / one letter, which is the exact reverse of its successor.

Dateless plates were used from 1903 and their letter/number combinations did not have any reference to the age of the vehicle, hence “dateless”. They are typically made up of up to three letters followed by up to three numbers, or up to three numbers followed by up to three letters. The fewer letters / numbers on the plate, the higher the desirability and, therefore, it’s value.

Whichever format you choose to go for, RegCompare is the best place to compare private number plate prices to ensure you are getting the cheapest price available.