old number plate
3 minutes

In the UK, numerous creative and responsible ways exist to repurpose or dispose of old car number plates. Many people upcycle them into unique art pieces, such as wall collages, custom signs, or photo frames, adding a vintage or industrial touch to their home decor. For those with a practical mindset, old number plates can label toolboxes, storage bins or even as unique mailbox numbers. 

Also, car enthusiasts might enjoy collecting and trading old number plates, especially rare or vintage ones. Old car number plates often hold sentimental value, reflect a part of your vehicle’s history, or simply accumulate as you switch vehicles. Instead of letting them gather dust, there are numerous creative, practical, and responsible ways to repurpose or dispose of them.

Can I keep my old number plate?

Keep your old, damaged, or broken number plate as a memento or for records. In any case, it should be placed in a secure location that no one else can access.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on what you can do with old car number plates.


Recycling is a responsible way to dispose of old number plates. Number plates are typically made from aluminium, which is highly recyclable. Here’s how you can recycle them:

Local Recycling Centers: Check with your local recycling facility to see if they accept metal number plates.

DMV Programs: Some Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices offer recycling programs for old number plates.

Selling your number plate:

If you’re switching a private plate out for a new one or want to return the original plates to your car, consider selling your private plate. While you can’t sell them back to the DVLA or sell a car’s original registration, you can sell your plates privately. You can also sell your number plate through online marketplaces, specialised number plate dealers, or auction sites. Selling your old number plate not only puts some cash in your pocket but also allows the plate to be appreciated by someone new.

Donate your number plate rights:

If you no longer want to keep your plate but don’t want to sell it, you can voluntarily give up the rights to your number plate by contacting the DVLA. 

To do so, you must complete the ‘Give up the right to this registered number (surrender)’ section of either the V778 or V750 form originally issued with your plate. You can request a replacement from the DVLA if you’ve misplaced the form.

After filling out and signing the form, send it to:

  • DVLA Personalised Registrations
  • Swansea
  • SA99 1DS

Once you’ve completed this process, you can no longer use your private plate on any vehicle.

Proper Disposal

If recycling or upcycling is not an option, ensure you dispose of number plates properly to prevent misuse:

Defacing the Plate: Before disposing of number plates, deface or cut them to make them unusable. This prevents potential misuse or theft.

Local Regulations: Follow local guidelines for disposing of number plates, which might involve returning them to the DMV or following specific disposal procedures.

What do I do with the number plate if I scrap, sell, or write off my car?

If your car has been scrapped, written off, or you’ve decided to sell it, you can retain the number plates. Simply ensure you remove them from the vehicle and apply to reassign the registration through the DVLA. You’ll need your V5C document to complete this process.

What happens to my old number plate if I buy a new one?

When you purchase a new number plate, the DVLA typically requires you to return the old plate. This step ensures that your old plate is removed from circulation and cannot be used by anyone else, preventing confusion and misuse.

However, the registration mark remains associated with your vehicle. If you choose to remove the new private plate, the old registration will be automatically re-assigned to your vehicle.

Click here to read more for Private number plate in the UK


Old car number plates don’t have to end up in the trash. With some creativity and consideration, they can be transformed into art, practical items, or added to a collection. If repurposing isn’t an option, recycling or proper disposal ensures they are handled responsibly. Whatever you choose to do, your old number plates can find a new life beyond the road.

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