Can You Buy a Number Plate From a Scrapped Car?

Scrap yards are intriguing places. You never know what hidden gems might be tucked away amongst the twisted metal. Have a browse around one of these yards and you may just find something that seems like it was made just for you.

Number plates are taken to the grave by the cars that they’re attached to, but what if you spot one that takes your fancy? It might end with your initials, or include your birthday, or you might just think it sounds a bit rude.

It doesn’t matter why you might want to recover a scrapped number plate and stick it onto your own car. We’re here to explain whether or not you can.

One half of a personalised number plate
british car plate, only partial number shown for privacy

Is it Legal to Buy a Number Plate From a Scrapped Car?

By the letter of the law, you’re not allowed to buy (or take, for that matter) a number plate from a scrapped car. Not if you intend to put it onto your car, that is. You may be able to purchase one for decorative purposes, should you feel so inclined, but recycling a number plate from a scrapped car is illegal. Doing so could land you with a fine of up to £1,000 or, if a bill currently being discussed within the House of Commons is introduced, could see penalty points added to your licence.

Why Can’t I Buy a Number Plate From a Scrapped Car?

The reason behind this may seem silly, especially if the number plate is physically in perfect condition just sitting there and going rusty. However, it’s fairly straightforward. Essentially, the default number plate that is on a car when it leaves the factory is connected to that car forever. No ifs or buts. So, when the car is scrapped, the number plate is also considered scrapped. In a sense, it’s wiped from existence, as far as the DVLA is concerned, regardless of its physical presence. Think of it like this: when the car dies, the plate dies with it… and there’s no coming back from that.

Do I Have to Scrap My Personalised Number Plate Along With My Car?

This is where things get a little more complicated. No, you don’t have to part with your private plate when you sell your car for scrap, but you do need to make sure you follow the proper channels to retain or transfer the rights to your number plate. If you simply remove the plates from the scrap car and put them onto a new car, you’re heading for trouble.

If your car is written off and scrapyard-bound, you need to be quick to notify the DVLA and your insurance that you’d like to keep it. Because a write-off is considered “dead”, the plate is effectively gone, too. Or, at least, on life support, giving you a short window to revive it. You’ll need to apply to retain it, or potentially even re-purchase it from your insurance company before they sell or scrap the vehicle.

If you’re thinking it’s about time for a new ride, maybe you should look into selling your car through Scrap Car Comparison. In just 30 seconds, we could give you a collection of guaranteed quotes of the best prices to sell your car. We keep an up-to-the-minute record of the price of scrap, so one of our trusted buyers will give you exactly what your car is worth. Find your local collector and sell your car as scrap or salvage today.

Get Quote Now

Get Offers For
Your Scrap Car In
Less Than 30 Seconds


Best price in 30 seconds

Your request is processing

Your request is processing...