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Why Are Private Number Plates Expensive?


If you have spent time searching for your perfect private number plate then you will know that some plates can command extremely high prices. Plates that are scarce, or popular owing to their low number of characters will often sell for tens of thousands of pounds.


The most expensive number plate ever bought was by Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri of the United Arab Emirates in 2008. He paid a massive £7.25 million for a private number plate that simply read “1”


The single-digit plate set the record for the highest price ever paid for a private registration.


The most expensive plate ever bought in the United Kingdom was “25 0” purchased by a classic car dealer and collector for his vintage 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB. The exclusive private plate was purchased in 2014 for almost £520k.


What drives up the cost of private plates?


All plates are manufactured as original registrations, meaning that there are never two of the same. This inherently creates scarcity and for plates that feature popular words or have a dateless quality, this frequently drives the price up.


As an indication of prestige and style, many car owners seek specific or rare number plates that make their already expensive cars even more exclusive. Ferrari, Mercedes, and Rolls Royce owners frequently display private plates that indicate wealth and achievement.


Other unique number plates become sought after because they may spell the owner’s name or indicate an affiliation with a particular sports team, career or hobby.


For example, this prefix style registration plate that uses letters and numbers in a formation that spells ‘Billy’ is available for £31,826 on the SwiftReg website.


While this plate reading ‘1 ACE’ will set you back £425,419


How to find cheaper private plates


Not all private number plates have to cost a fortune. With a bit of creativity, plates can be found that read very similarly, but that have a substantial price difference. Take a look at these 2 plates. They both display the word ‘BOSSY’ but the first plate is formatted in the dateless style and can be used on any age of vehicle.



The second plate is formatted in the current style and issued in late 2005 so cannot be used on a vehicle older than the date indicated.



Assuming that you can use either registration on your vehicle, you may be surprised to learn the difference in price between the 2 private plates.


The first ‘dateless style’ plate costs close to £30,000, while the second ‘current style’ number plate retails for £3,300. Quite a difference!


So when you are searching for your own cool private plate, stay open-minded and consider options or alternative letter formations for your registration. Letters and numbers can often be used interchangeably and some words can be spelt phonetically to get the plate you want for a more reasonable price


With a bit of effort, many plates can be found that are inexpensive, even under £200 in some cases. 


The Swiftreg database has access to millions of private number plates. Start your search today using our search engine and find the number plate that suits you. 

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