Where can I find the custom numberplate I want?

Where can I find the custom numberplate I want?

Your motoring problems solved

Where can I find the custom numberplate I want?

Q. To complete a set of family numberplates, I would like to acquire H8 STP. I have checked online and the plate exists but is not on an insured car. I cannot check the tax status of the vehicle the plate is on because I don’t know its make or model. The plate is not on the DVLA’s list of those for sale. Is there any way I can have the plate resurrected and buy it?
PP, Leek, Staffordshire

Browse NEW or USED cars for sale on driving.co.uk


A. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) holds back some registration plates to sell, either via its website or at auction — see dvlaregistrations.direct.gov.uk. Auctions can also include some plates that are specific customer requests. “A customer can contact us about any registration that falls into any of the UK formats, both past and present,” the DVLA said. “We would then contact the customer when it became available to buy or will be offered for auction.”

However, the DVLA sells only unissued numbers. As the plate you want has been issued, the DVLA will not be able to help.

An alternative is to ask a commercial dealer, who can track down specific plates and try to negotiate a sale. We spoke to John Kirkbright, owner of platehunter.com, which has more than 50m numberplates for sale via its website. He carried out a quick vehicle history check (instantcarcheck.co.uk) and traced H8 STP to a 2002 Toyota MR2, which has not had an MoT certificate since 2011.

He then used this information to check the car on the DVLA website at vehicleenquiry.service.gov.uk and discovered that it has statutory off-road notification (Sorn).

“There’s a chance it is sitting in a garage somewhere but, as Sorn no longer needs to be renewed every year, it’s just as likely the car was written off and scrapped,” said Kirkbright. “That means the plate would have been lost and won’t be reissued.”

Are you the owner of that Toyota? Is your car in a garage? Drop us a line at driving@sunday-times.co.uk and we’ll put you in touch.

Car Clinic Experts

Emma Smith is a journalist specialising in consumer issues and is a regular Driving contributor – read more from Emma here.


Email your question to carclinic@sunday-times.co.uk or write to Car Clinic, Driving, The Sunday Times, 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF, with a daytime phone number, your address and as much detail about your car as possible. We can’t reply in person, so don’t send original documents or SAEs. Advice is given without legal responsibility.