What is a Cherished Number Plate?

Cherished number plates are the unofficial name for dateless registration marks issued before 1963. In some cases, people also refer to all types of private and personalised number plate as cherished plates.

The reason they’re lovingly referred to as “cherished” is because they are usually older plates (over 60 years old!) that are more distinctive than today’s formats and, on occasion, have been handed down through the generations. Think of them as antiques!

As you may have guessed, the phrase is particularly popular with classic car owners. Many of these owners seek out period-correct number plates to complete their vintage vehicle’s character and identity. To them, it would be complete blasphemy to have a modern plate on a classic 1960s Jaguar E-Type.

However, due to the fact that there are less cherished plates than all the other styles (current, prefix and suffix), they are considered far rarer and consequently more expensive. Mark that down as another reason why they are known as “cherished”.

Can you put a cherished plate on any car?

Not exactly. The DVLA’s rules state that it’s illegal to put a registration on a car to make it appear newer than it actually is. For example, a vehicle manufactured in 2010 cannot have a number plate on it that could lead people to believe it was instead made in 2020.

As cherished number plates (specifically dateless) do not have a year identifier on them, it would be possible to create one that is intentionally misleading. For more information, check out our Guide to Vehicle Registration Years in the UK.

Apart from this one exception, cherished plates can be put on any type of car, new or old.

Although, as with all personalised registrations, cherished number plates cannot be used on Q-registered vehicles and other vehicles that do not require an annual MOT test or HGV (heavy goods vehicle) certificate. For example, tractors and steam rollers.

Are cherished number plates a good investment?

Cherished number plates - as well as other types of personalised plates - can be a great investment as they tend to rise in value even as the car itself depreciates.

Dateless number plates with very few digits (e.g. M 1) are guaranteed to be a good investment as they are far more eye-catching than the typical 7-digit plates being issued today.

If you’re only interested in buying a cherished plate as an investment, then it’s recommended that you steer clear of characters and numbers that only have significant meaning to you. Instead go for plates with popular names and numbers like JAM 35 or DAV 3, as these will always be relevant.

You can even purchase a cherished number plate without assigning it to a vehicle via a retention certificate. But remember, investing in number plates is a lot like buying stocks and shares. Prices will fluctuate and, in very unfortunate circumstances, can go down as well as up.

Transfer Management
& Plate Printing

From our popular Fast Track Transfer service to supplying high‑quality acrylic and 4D plates printed on our specialist in-house equipment, no one makes buying private plates online quicker and easier.

Fast Track Transfer Plate Printing

Finance Available on orders from £50-£5000

Spread the cost with our trouble-free and secure Klarna finance option. Simply select ‘Finance’ at the checkout and you’ll be greeted with great value payment plans that will make your dream number plate a reality.

Find Out More