DVLA are the source of all private number plates – after all they are officially only a code to identify vehicles – so what they do will directly affect the industry and anyone who currently owns private number plates. We have seen recently that DVLA are moving forward towards digital services, doing away with paper-based transactions in favour of online ones. But how do these changes change the way we deal with private number plates?

It is important to say first though that the DVLA has more on their plate than private number plates and they have a country of motorists to think about. That said, they often make decisions without factoring in how it will affect the industry. An example of this would be when it was announced that pre-1960s vehicles were made MOT exempt. This decision was made without also altering the rule that valid tax and MOT was required to transfer ANY number plate. This meant pre-1960s vehicles couldn’t really be involved with private number plates, unless they voluntarily were tested.

If you’ve owned private number plates in the past your biggest friend were the local DVLA offices. These were vital in not only extending and transferring private number plates but also doing them quickly. For dealers and their customers this ensured that there was never going to be too long to wait for completion. However, these local offices are no more, meaning dealers and customers alike have all lost a useful lifeline for their private number plates.

All of the DVLA’s services that apply to private number plates have been relocated to the main Swansea, and on the brightside we have seen quicker turnaround on mailed transfers, but owners of private number plates have lost a lot of support. In place of this we will be getting more online services, including the recently announced plans to replace the physical tax disc completely. This should mean that customers will soon not have to worry with sending tax discs forward, making private number plates that little bit simpler to transfer.

Recent changes to rules regarding Statuary Off Road Notifications (SORNs) may also give owners of private number plates more flexibility. It was the case that to transfer private number plates the vehicle needed to be taxed and tested or be within the first 12 months of SORN, however this was when motorists had to the inform the DVLA year-on-year to keep the vehicle in SORN. Now, with these new rules in place, motorists only need to inform the DVLA once and never again, it will stay SORN from that point on. This may lead to DVLA relaxing the rules regarding private number plates. Perhaps soon number plates on old SORNed vehicles can still be on the market?

There will be more changes coming as DVLA continues to update their systems. Their longterm goal appears to be doing away with paper and post-based transactions in favour of virtual, online processes. They do this for obvious reasons: it is easier. Everything is instant, nothing gets lost in the post, everything back be tracked. It almost seems too perfect.

One could hope we can expect the same from the number plates. Private number plates may soon be sorted online, with the buyer and seller filling in what they need to fill in and quick as a flash it is done. Okay, maybe that is too simple and we will never be afforded that luxury, but at least if logbooks, tax discs and MOT certificates go online things will be a lot simpler.

Imagine, private number plates being traded without headaches? That is the dream!

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