Are personalised plates legitimate investments?

Private registrations of personal number plates continue to grow with each passing year. In 2017, DVLA recorded sales of over £111 million from 374,968 registrations – a massive leap from about 70,000 in 1995. In total, private registrations have brought in well above £2 billion since 1993.


DVLA’s figures in 2017 tell us another thing. Since the majority of personal plates cost just £250, the £111 million revenue suggests a premium of around 18% from list price – and this doesn’t even include private sales between individuals, where most of the major transaction occurs. Not only are private sellers and buyers not required to declare their sales amount to DVLA, almost of these big ticket items aren’t even assigned to vehicles. Instead, they are kept in retention using DVLA’s form V750.


What is driving these transactions? In simple terms, profit margins for the sellers, and future appreciation for the buyers.


What is the potential appreciation of number plates?


Even the best mathematicians and economists will never be able to give you a precise answer since there are so many varying factors involved. However, consider this one case study.


In 2008, the Essex County Council sold the ‘F1’ plate to number plate speculator Afzal Kahn for £440,000. It sounds like a great deal, right? But wait. Five years later, Mr. Kahn received an offer of £6 million for the plate, which he turned down, despite the opportunity to earn a profit of 1,300%! But fear not, because Mr. Kahn has now listed the ‘F1’ plate for sale for a princely sum of £14 million. If someone purchased the plate at that price, Mr. Kahn would walk away with a profit of 3,180%, which works out to a return of approximately 289% per annum. No other form of investment could rival take kind of returns.



What is causing the massive appreciation in prices?


Basically, it’s supply and demand. Since the current number plate format is designed to last until 2051, there are limited numbers of unique private plates for sale. Coupled with the fact that these plates are sold in a captive marketplace (because motorists can’t buy number plates from France or Germany, or China, right?), and a growing number of vehicle owners, the price appreciation will continue for the next three decades.


Are you beginning to see the massive potential here? But wait, there’s one more thing – there is no learning curve involved in mastering the market. You don’t need a degree or a team of advisors to tell you that short pronounceable number plates are worth a fortune, right?