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Posted by Sean Cooper
March 29th, 2021 at 8:52 am

If you’ve ever thought about getting a private registration plate for your car or motorcycle you could easily assume you only have the choice of the registration numbers that have been issued by the DVLA over the years so far. That’s not actually the case, however, and any numbers that have not been used under the current or previous registration number systems are technically up for grabs.

Of course, a lot of the very “best” numbers have either been snapped up already or have been siphoned-off by the DVLA to be sold for premium prices through its own auctions. Even so, there are still plenty of opportunities for you to have a private plate that means something to you and doesn’t give away the age of your vehicle. Also, you might be surprised at just how affordable some numbers you come up with that you might want can actually be.



The most popular and most obvious source of ideas for a private number plate is your name. There are a few problems with going down this route though. First of all, if you have a very common or conventional name you’re going to be competing with a lot of other potential buyers so the combination you want may not be available, or if it is, the price could be astronomical.

For example, if you happen to be called John and you quite fancy a private plate with “JON” on it you’re going to need deep pockets if you want it accompanied by 2 or three numbers before or after it. On the other hand, if you’re happy to have a private plate under the current system you could have something like CD51 JON for less than five hundred quid.

You may have a name that gets truncated to a three-letter word and this can open up wider possibilities. If your name is Jenny or Jennifer then “JEN” is an obvious private plate, and something like Robert can spawn even more possibilities with “ROB” or “BOB.” Combining these sorts of things with two or three other characters can get expensive such as L5 JEN or M21 JEN, but it can be very affordable if you’re happy with something like YY51 ROB.


number plate jenny

Questionable “Spellings”


A very popular option for private number plates is to (sort of) spell out a name using an available combination of numbers and letters, where some numbers can (sort of) look like a letter needed to complete a word or name. You’ll definitely have seen these around, and it has to be said that some are a lot more convincing than others.

Let’s say your name is Lesley. Obviously, you can’t have a UK number plate with six letters and no numbers so you’d have to substitute at least a couple of letters for numbers to meet the criteria of a past or present numbering system. The old prefix system has a letter at the start followed by one, two or three numbers and then three more letters, so you could substitute the ES in Lesley for 35, and that allows a legal plate of L35LEY that looks like Lesley.

If your name is Lesley and you’re now inspired to go out and buy that plate we can save you the bother because it’s already taken and not for sale, but at least you get the idea, right?


questionable number plate spelling


These questionable “spellings” are not restricted to people’s names, although some of them you see are more than questionable and you could often do with the driver explaining to you what the plate is meant to spell. Some good uses of numbers for letters include S8 RRY (SORRY) and H41 RDO (HAIR DO) which are owned by pop star Robbie Williams and celebrity hairstylist Nicky Clarke respectively, but any of these plates that spell something out relatively clearly will be seriously expensive.



What you do for a living or how you made your money could be good inspirations for a private number plate, although some occupations and ways of earning a shilling are frowned on and any plate that obviously relates to them will probably already have been banned. Let’s say you’ve made a considerable amount of money supplying illegal substances and you’d like to advertise the fact with something like HE12 OIN or DR12 UGS on your blacked-out BMW. You can forget all about that as they’ve already been banned by the DVLA panel that decides what number and letter combinations may cause offence.


pro bono lawyer number plate


Some examples that are not banned include M4GIC that was owned by magician Paul Daniels, CUE 8OY owned by professional snooker player Jimmy White, COM1C owned by comedian Jimmy Tarbuck, and MR D1Y owned by celebrity builder Tommy Walsh.

If you have a particularly good imagination it’s still potentially possible to create a plate that says something that might be offensive, but don’t think that just because it’s available and you’ve managed to buy it that you’re home and dry. A gentleman not too long ago managed to buy the plate BO11 LUX for just £399 which he proudly put in his new Range Rover. Unfortunately for him, only weeks later he received a strong letter from the DVLA informing him that his plate was ‘causing offence’ and he was ordered to remove it.

Interests & Heroes



Of course, your chosen private plate can reflect anything you want it to, so what about your interests or your heroes? Let’s say you’re an avid fan of legendary late rock guitarist Edward Van Halen or the late, great blues guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan? There are plenty of available private numbers available with EVH and SRV in them and you’re not going to forget your registration number when you’re checking in to a Premier Inn and you need to submit your reg number to avoid being charged for parking if half of it is the name of your favourite musician, are you?

Unfortunately, if your musical taste leans more towards the likes of U2 or UB40 you’re probably going to be out of luck, but there are plenty of ELO variations available for not a lot of money if that’s your thing.

The bottom line here is a private plate is exactly what its name suggests. Most of the time the main reason for having one is to take your vehicle out of the registration date rat race, so it doesn’t matter how obscure the number you choose is as long as it means something to you, and it also doesn’t matter if it doesn’t mean anything to you either.