Personalised car number plates: what is acquired
The value of a personalised car number plate lies in the right to use a particular combination of numbers and letters. This right is an intangible asset which is separate from the actual plate, and from the vehicle to which it is attached. So a person who acquires a personalised car number plate may incur capital expenditure in acquiring:
- the plate itself (usually of negligible value), see below
- intangible rights of enduring benefit which allow them to use a specific combination of letters and numbers when registering a car, see below
- the car (where the plate is acquired with the car), see CG76906.
Where more than one asset has been acquired, you need to apportion the acquisition cost. This should be done on a `just and reasonable’ basis, TCGA92/S52(4).
The value of a car isn’t affected by the sequence of letters and numbers displayed on the number plates.
In many cases it will be a straightforward matter to determine what part of the total cost you should attribute to the intangible rights mentioned in above.
Car number plate
A car number plate is a chattel. See CG76550+ for the rules about chattels and CG76906 for the rules about vehicles. The physical plate itself has negligible value and only becomes machinery or plant when it is attached to a car. Where a plate is disposed of along with the car or other road vehicle to which it is attached, it should be regarded as part of that vehicle and not as a separate asset.
The capital cost of a car number plate is negligible and is the same irrespective of the numbers stamped on it.
A vehicle registration is made up of a combination of numbers and letters. The right to use a particular registration mark is not a chattel and is not part of the particular vehicle to which the plate showing the combination may be attached.
A disposal of such a right does not, therefore, represent either:
- a disposal of a passenger car or other road vehicle, see CG76906
- a disposal of plant or machinery, see CG76900
- a disposal of a chattel, see CG76573, or
- a disposal of a wasting asset, see CG76722.
Any gain arising on the disposal of a registration number will, therefore, be a chargeable gain.