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HMRC internal manual

Capital Gains Manual

Personalised car number plates: methods of acquisition

There are three different ways in which you can acquire the right to use a particular combination of numbers or letters on your car:

  • by application to the DVLA for a previously unissued number. In this case no second vehicle is involved and the successful applicant simply pays to have his own car re-registered under the new number. This is the only method of acquisition which does not involve, either directly or indirectly, a second vehicle.
  • by buying a car with the desired number attached. The purchase price will reflect the value of the registration mark. Once you have the car you can apply to DVLA to transfer the number from the original old banger onto your Bentley.
  • through a middleman. You have probably seen lists of available numbers in the national press. Companies exist to put would-be vendors of desirable numbers in touch with potential purchasers. They act as the middleman in what is effectively the transfer of a registration mark from one person’s vehicle to another’s. The purchaser is in the same position as if they had applied for an unissued number. They have acquired the right to use the registration mark without having to buy the vehicle which originally carried it.