You can go online at any time of the night or day and buy yourself a personalised registration number from the DVLA that has never been issued before. Thousands of different numbers are available that have never been used before from all the previous registration plate numbering systems, and prices can vary considerably from a couple of hundred pounds to many thousands of pounds. However, the DVLA also auctions off some of the very best and most sought-after numbers, so here’s what you need to know about DVLA private number plate auctions.
Two Types of DVLA auction
There are two very different types of DVLA auction where you can buy yourself a highly desirable private number plate. The first is a live auction where people attend a venue and place their bids and the other is a DVLA Timed Auction which is a very different affair altogether.
If you’ve ever taken part in an auction you’re probably aware of what an exciting event it can be, and some of these auctions for DVLA private number plates can be a lot of fun too. However, you may or may not be aware that it’s easy to get carried away when you’re bidding at an auction so it’s good that the DVLA has these two very different ways of auctioning off the most sought-after registration numbers.
A live auction is just like a car or antique auction you may have attended in the past where it’s held at a physical venue and bidders are invited to attend in-person to bid on the numbers being put up for sale. The numbers being offered will have been advertised in advance on the DVLA website and you can do your research ahead of the sale day and decide how much you are prepared to bid up to.
If you’re not able to attend in person you can also bid online or by telephone, and once the bidding starts on a number it continues until a point where the bidding reaches its limit and nobody else is prepared to bid again.
DVLA Timed Online Auction
The DVLA also uses a very different form of auction which is a timed online auction. As the name suggests, a DVLA Timed Online Auction is conducted entirely online so there is no physical venue to attend. The way the bidding works is also very different from a regular auction, and the whole thing is a lot more civilised and there isn’t the kind of “buzz” you get with traditional auctions which can sometimes be a very good thing.
A DVLA Timed Online Auction requires you to register as a bidder just as you have to with most auctions, but the bidding can’t really get into a frenzy like it can with a regular physical or online auction. A timed auction lot will have a starting price and the system doesn’t accept any bids below this amount, which you also need to be aware doesn’t include the buyer’s premium, assignment fee or VAT.
Bidders submit their maximum bids which have to be a multiple of £10 as bids in pence are not allowed, and once the auction gets underway the price will go up in increments of £10 until the current highest bid is reached. Once the finishing time for the auction is reached, each lot will be sold to the highest bidder for the amount of their winning bid, but the end time can be extended beyond the stated time in some circumstances.
Sliding End Times
If you’ve ever bid on an item being auctioned on a site like eBay and you are watching right up until the end you may have noticed a practice called “sniping.” This is where there’s a sudden flurry of bids in the last few seconds of a sale that are impossible for you to keep up with and react to. There might not have been a bid placed in the last couple of days and you might have thought you had it in the bag, but suddenly there are dozens of bids placed in the last 30 seconds and before you know it you’ve been outbid without a chance to respond.
This is done using sniping tools which are software that automatically keeps bidding up to your maximum amount over a short specified time, which is often the last 30 seconds or so. As a human bidder, you have no chance of responding in time, and the DVLA uses sliding end times to stop this practice.
DVLA Timed Online Auctions still have an ending time, but if any bids are received in the last 30 minutes the end time will be extended by a further 30 minutes to allow time for other potential bidders to respond. This could extend the auction considerably if people keep bidding in the last 30 minutes, but eventually, everyone else will drop out and the highest bidder will eventually win the sale.
With both types of auctions you have to register to be able to bid, but a live auction allows you to keep bidding while a times auction requires you to submit your maximum bid in advance. You can increase your maximum bid in a timed auction if you wish, but once you request an increased limit you will have to pay a 10% deposit of that amount which will be immediately refunded at the end of the auction if your bid is unsuccessful.
It’s always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the additional fees that will be added to the winning bid if you are successful as these can come as a bit of a shock if you’re unaware of them. You also need to be aware that you cannot cancel a bid once you’ve placed it.
It really is easy to get carried away bidding in all sorts of auctions, but a DVLA Timed Online Auction is a good way to go if you’re concerned you might be tempted to overpay in a more traditional venue or online auction. You should also be realistic about your chances of grabbing a bargain too. The DVLA and licence plate dealers are well aware of the market value of different number combinations and starting prices will be set to reflect this to a degree.