How Private Plates Work Around the World vs the UK

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How Private Plates Work Around the World vs the UK

February 15, 2022

Having a personalised number plate on your car helps to give it a personal touch and it almost adds a sense of individuality to your car. The idea is so popular that it is a scheme that works in lots of different countries in the Western world.

We are going to do a brief analysis of how private number plates work in the UK and how it compares to how it works in other countries.


It is fair to suggest that personalisation has been a major trend in the car industry in recent years.

Instead of being allocated a set of numbers and letters at random in the state government’s approved colour scheme, your personalised number plate can display a nickname, your personal initials or it can be used to show your support for your favourite sports team.

Personalised number plates are one of the most effective and straightforward ways to add individuality to your car.

While there are certain limits concerning unsuitable language, you can have pretty much whatever you want as long as it meets UK registration number plate standards.

United Kingdom

How Can You Buy Personalised Number Plates in the UK? 

A way to purchase a personalised number plate in the UK is to use the official DVLA personalised number plate website.

 DVLA is a government-run website that has a database of the different variations of personalised number plates which are currently available to purchase.

There are other private companies that sell personalised number plates. It is best to go with reputable companies as here in the UK we have strict requirements regarding the style, colour and font of number plates. 

How Much Do They Usually Cost in the UK?

It really depends on the lettering which is used and how unique the wording is. Personalised number plates can start as low as £100 and some can be worth thousands of pounds.

On the DVLA website, there is also the option to bid for a personalised number plate of your choice, so this is ideal for those who are willing to bid to get the perfect number plate of their choice.


How Can You Buy Personalised Number Plates in New South Wales? 

The process for obtaining a personal plate in Australia varies by state.

Fortunately, purchasing personal plates has been less of a headache in recent years, thanks to the availability of online options.

There are several plate styles available at Plate Sales, and what’s great is that you can buy your customised number plate, and they’ll guide you through the process of legally installing it on your car.

It’s crucial to note that personalised plates are carefully regulated, with restrictions in place for combinations that are judged inappropriate due to profanity, drug references, or the potential to encourage unrest or unsafe driving.

Transport for NSW retains standard and custom number plates ownership, which must be relinquished upon request.

How Much Do They Usually Cost in Australia?

Fully personalised plates are priced entirely based on their design. Unique plates start at $100 Australian Dollars (£52.70-February 2022 exchange rate), per year in New South Wales, whereas personalised plates start at $450 Australian Dollars ( £237.14-February 2022 exchange rate) per year in Victoria.

However, when a popular word or phrase is used, there can only be one edition of a plate to sell for much more than the original purchase price.

How it differs from the purchase process in the UK

In Australia, residents have more freedom to choose the font, colour and style of their number plates. 

Whereas in the UK there are stricter requirements and the DVLA state that all number plates in the UK should be in the same font, style and colouring.


How Can You Buy Personalised Number Plates in the USA?

In the USA, personalised number plates are commonly known as “Vanity Plates” so this is good to keep in mind if you are about to start your search for a personalised plate in the United States.

Like in, Australia in the USA you can purchase vanity plates from private companies, it does not have to be from a government-backed company.

In the United States, there are many companies that offer genuine road legal number plates to purchase for a vehicle in North America.

How Much Do They Usually Cost in the USA?

In the USA vanity plates are actually considerably cheaper than they are in the UK. Some of their personalised plates are priced at $60 USD (£44.32) in February 2022 (exchange rate) in the State of New York for example.

How it differs from the purchase process in the UK

Like in Australia, citizens in the USA have more flexibility and freedom in the styling of their personalised number plates. They are able to customise the font, colour and styling of the plate. 

This is something that is not allowed in the UK, as the UK government requires that all number plates in the UK have the same, font, colour and styling.

Fun Fact: In the state of New York, the words “police” and “God” are banned from being used on number plates.


Countries in Europe that offer personalised number plates

The majority of European countries do not offer personalised or “vanity” plates, but here are the exceptions of European countries that do offer personalised number plates

  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden

Countries in the rest of the world that offer personalised number plates

In this article, we have put emphasis on the countries in the Western world which offer personalised number plates, but there are actually a considerable number of countries in the rest of the world that offer personalised number plates, these are:

  • Canada (except Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Hong Kong
  • South Africa
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Iceland

Final Thoughts

It is interesting how personalised number plates can be purchased in Western countries around the world and the different requirements for each country. The United Kingdom regulations of number plates seem quite strict, so it will be fascinating to see whether the UK government becomes more relaxed about the criteria of number plates on UK roads.

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