Private car registrations are big business – in 2017 alone, the market generated over £110m in revenue, with an estimate of around £1.8bn being made since 1989. Everybody who’s somebody wants a private registration, or so it seems.

Personally, there’s little that annoys me more than bad private registrations; the ones that need a huge dose of imagination to make work, the cheap and tacky ones that need extra number plate screws, insulation tape or ‘fudging’ to even be slightly coherent.

Even just the ones that are standard, yet the owner tries convincing you (or perhaps, himself) that it’s a private plate … BT07 YJA becomes “Brian’s Terrific 7 year old Yellow Jersey’d Arachnid or some such nonsense.

Brexit plates

Whether it’s your initials, showing the support of your favourite sporting team or hero, or just disguising the age of your vehicle, there is a private registration for nearly everything, and anything. And now that we’re facing the impending doom or elation (your choice) of leaving the EU, you can also tell the world about that.

A Brexit supporter may like EU20 BRX, EU20 OUT or even EU20 FAN, whereas staunch Remainers could pick from EU20 GON, EU20 SAD, or perhaps one that sums up the whole debacle (the last 3+ years) nicely – EU20 POO. Currently, these are all genuine registrations being marketed by a specialist company, but it’s likely that the DVLA won’t allow ‘POO’ to reach the open market.

New car, old plate

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the regulations, but absolutely must have a new Brexit plate, you should know that you can’t fit a new registration to an older vehicle – making it look newer, but you can go the other way; an older style or format to a newer car. So if you simply must have EU20 BYE fitted to your vehicle, it will need to be brand new at the March registrations.

With that said, it’s entirely possible to still buy the registration, and have the ownership rights on a Certificate of Entitlement, which lasts for ten years, you just won’t be able to display it until you have a vehicle to match. It’s also worth pointing out that the ‘20’ year marker will change to 70 for the September issue, so time is limited.

Lose that reg

I mentioned earlier that you often see private registration numbers that have to be fudged in some way to make them work, whether that’s tightening up the spacing, changing the font, adding bits of black electrical insulation tape to change a letter or two (that’s surprisingly common), but for me, that just devalues the whole thing.

It’s also worth pointing out that the authorities take a very dim view of it also; just because you’ve purchased the right to the VRN, they can remove that right for persistent and repeat offenders who choose to alter any element of the plate, or display in a different format or style that isn’t standard.

(Although of course, that would mean that you’ve got to encounter a real, live human police officer at least twice).

Record breaking investment

Purchasing a private registration doesn’t have to be all about shouting from the rooftops that you’re successful, or a lover of Aston Villa, or even perhaps that you’re a Handyman. Some VRNs add a much needed detail to a car – the most expensive private plate sold in the UK was 25 O, which was purchased for a Ferrari 250 GTO SWB, selling for £518,000.

A number of well-known equity investors (such as Duncan Bannatyne and James Caan) invest in cherished registrations as an easy way to top-up their portfolios, and if you choose correctly, you can usually make a better return than leaving the money idle, all while still being able to appreciate and use the ‘asset’ – driving a million miles with it won’t devalue it, and there’s not many investments that can offer that.

With that said, as more motorists are beginning to understand that it isn’t just about vanity, prices are climbing and you now need to either hold on to it for longer, or be a little lucky, but it’s doubtful that you’d ever lose money at the very least.

As for the Brexit plates … personally speaking, with the vitriol and divide between the two camps, I’d fear that my car would be a target for vandals, so on this occasion, I’d have to say “Ahm oot”.

What do you think to cherished registrations? Would you consider having a Brexit plate? Or are they just for show-offs? Let us know in the comments.

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