You may have never thought about what happens to a number plate when a car is scrapped until you’ve actually been forced to scrap a car yourself. So you may be surprised to find out that the registration plate actually dies with the vehicle itself, and there is no way of bringing the number plate back into circulation unless done illegally.
The reason as to why the number plate dies with the vehicle is due to the simple fact that the registration plate is the way in which you identify a specific vehicle. A number plate can only be associated with one particular vehicle, and if that vehicle has been destroyed, the number plate will be destroyed along with it.
Yes, you can keep your private plate if you scrap your car. The DVLA has said that “You can take a personalised number off of a vehicle if you want to either: keep the number to use later or assign it to another vehicle”, but you must make sure that you have the vehicles logbook (V5) and apply for it to be done. If you were to have the vehicle scrapped without acceptance, you may lose the right to the private plate!
It may not have happened to you personally, but you would be surprised to find out just how common plate theft is; whether that be standard plates or private personalised plates. Number plates can be worth quite a lot of money even though they may not look it, with the most expensive ever being sold for £7,000,000, and was simply the number ‘1’.
If your number plate is stolen, you should always report it to the police and the DVLA as soon as possible to inform them on the matter, as the person who has stolen the plate can end up racking speeding fines and penalty points without you even realising... From there they will either help you retrieve the plate or grant you the ability to apply and keep the number plate without physically having it.
If your vehicle is written off, unfortunately, your number plate will be written off with it too. This is due to the specific number plate being assigned to that specific car. It isn’t all doom and gloom though in that you may be able to reclaim the plate if you’re quick about it, but is an issue that must be resolved between yourself, the insurance and the DVLA. In some cases, you may have to buy the plate back from your insurer or go through lots of paperwork with the DVLA to retain the number.