Trade Plates

The complete guide to trade plates for the Motor Trade

If you work in the motor trade you will need to make sure you have trade plates. Trade plates are a temporary number plate for motor trades or car manufactures to use on vehicles that are not licensed.

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The great thing about trade plates is that they save you both time and money, as rather than having to register and tax every vehicle you have, you can buy a trade plate for all cars that you temporarily own. Trade plates are an important part of the motor traders tool box and the following sets out the key things you need to know about trade plates.


Why do you need trade plates?

It is important to have trade plates for any car or vehicle owned by a car trader, dealer or manufacturer which is unlicensed. Therefore, if you, your staff or a customer is going to be driving anywhere, even if it is just on the forecourt it must have a trade plate if unlicensed.

What type of traders need trade plates?

All motor traders should have a set of trade plates including but not limited to garages that repair vehicles, car manufacturers, manufactures of trailers, car valeters, and companies that fit accessories.

If you or your business are going to drive or test other people’s cars on the public road you will need trade plates.


Applying for your trade plates for business

You can apply online at the government trade plate license website. You have the option to choose whether you want your trade plates to last for 6 or 12 months.

However, if you are buying trade plates for the first time you do have the opportunity to purchase them for 7 or 11 months as they all tend to expire on the 30th of just or the 31st of December.

There are various form to complete depending on what type of trade plate you are applying for such as:

  • For your very first license
  • If you are looking to renew an existing license
  • If you are applying for a refund on your current trade license
  • If you need to get a replacement or duplicate trade license

The government website provides comprehensive guidance notes and instructions on how to complete the forms and further critical information about trade plates and their uses.

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How much are trade plates going to cost?

Month of Application Expiry Date Valid for (months) Price for all vehicles Prices for bicycles and tricycles
January June 6 £90.75 £44.00
January December 12 £165.00 £80.00
February December 11 £165.00 £80.00
March December 10 £151.25 £73.35
April December 9 £136.10 £66.00
May December 8 £121.00 £58.65
June December 7 £105.85 £51.35
July December 6 £90.75 £44.00
August June 11 £165.00 £80.00
September June 10 £151.25 £73.35
October June 9 £136.10 £66.00
November June 8 £121.00 £58.65
December June 7 £105.85 £51.35

Full-time and part-time trade plates

Part-Time motor traders may not need to purchase a trade plate license if the vehicle is on private property but, if the car is to be driven on the public road, for instance for a test drive, you must have trade plates.

Full-Time traders will need to have at least one set of trade plates when any vehicle is on the public highway whether stationary or indeed moving.

The effects of the change to the new electronic tax disc

The new electronic tax disc has been in effect for some time now and has had an effect on trade plates. Historically the tax was on the car and not for the person. This has changed now so that as the tax is done electronically the tax is for the person and the car must be taxed in the same name.

These new rules mean that if you happen to sell a car with tax still left you will get a refund from the DVLA however, if the tax is halfway through a calendar month you will unfortunately lose the money for the remainder of the month. The unfortunate fact is that from now on motor traders are likely to lose money taxing car in the long run.

All motor traders whether working full-time, part-time or privately will be required to tax any vehicles they own. Therefore, we can expect that more traders will be applying for a trade license as this works out substantially cheaper that having to tax each car individually.

The knock on effect should hopefully be that we see less cowboy traders as if they wish to get a trade license they have to apply via the government website which requires them to provide a substantial amount of information and importantly if the database doesn’t contain historical information about sales they have made, they are unlikely to be approved for a trade license.


Where to display your trade plates

To abide by the law and to behave in a manner that is in accordance with regulation 42 of the 2002 act ‘the trade plates issued by the Secretary of State shall be fixed to and displayed on the vehicle in such a manner that, if the general registration mark assigned to the holder were a registration mark assigned to the vehicle, the provisions of regulations 5 and 6 of the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001 would be complied with’.

Therefore, in laymen’s terms you need to place the trade plate on a car or any other vehicle in the same location as you would expect a normal registration plate to be shown. This means it is perfectly ok to cover the original plate on the front and back of the car.

Furthermore, it is not illegal for the plates to be displayed elsewhere within the car, for example, on the dash board or parcel shelf.

ANPR cameras

ANPR cameras are a great tool used mainly by the Police to conduct mass surveillance on several cars or other vehicle registrations. They work by capturing and storing images of car number plates and then use this information to catch anyone who is not abiding by the laws of the roads.

Therefore, it is very important to ensure that the car or vehicle is correctly taxed and you are properly displaying the trade plate on or inside of the car, failure to do so can and will result in a fine.

How can Utility Saving Expert help

If you work in the motor trade industry, apart from making sure you are abiding by the rules of the road, it is also important to ensure that you are sufficiently insured, this is where Utility Saving Expert can help.

We have a industry leading motor trade insurance quotation tool available for you to use free of charge.