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Motor Trade Licence Plates: How to Apply

The DVLA issues trade licences and trade plates for those who operate in the motor industry. Car manufacturers, dealers, and repairers will need to use motor trade licence plates.

TRADE PLATES UK: A trade licence plate is a temporary number plate. It does not follow the same rules as those for displaying vehicle registration.

Trade plates are for vehicles that are in the ‘temporary possession‘ of a motor trader. The purpose is to save dealers the cost and time to register and tax every car in their possession.

If you are a motor trader, vehicle tester, or repairer you can apply for a trade licence from DVLA.

Motor Trader Eligibility

Motor traders can only use trade licence plates on vehicles that are ‘temporarily’ in their possession. That means it must take place in the course of the business. Typical examples would include:

  • Testing or trialing a vehicle, its accessories, or equipment during or immediately after its construction, modification, or repair.
  • Return journeys to a public weighbridge or for the registration or inspection by an authorised official.
  • Undertaking a test trial for the benefit of a prospective purchaser or the press.
  • Demonstrating the operation of a vehicle, its accessories, or equipment before handing it over to a purchaser and delivering it to the place where they intend to keep it.
  • Journeys for valeting or fitting accessories between the premises of a trader.
  • Moving vehicles to a workshop where special equipment or accessories get fitted.
  • Traveling between a place where it starts or finishes the journey.
  • Travel between a trader’s premises and auctions or other places of sale.
  • Journeys for test or inspection or going to a place for breaking and dismantling vehicles.

Vehicle Tester Eligibility

Vehicle testers can use the trade licence only on vehicles submitted to them for testing. But, that can also include trailers, accessories, and some other equipment.

Misuse of Trade Licence Plates

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency make it an offence to:

  • Use more than one vehicle on the same licence plates at any one time.
  • Keep a ‘trade plated’ vehicle on a road when not in use. Exceptions apply for certain emergency situations.
  • Use a vehicle without displaying front and rear current and valid trade plates as specified.
  • Display anything similar on a vehicle that could be mistaken for a trade plate or licence.
  • Display motor trade licence plates or trade licences other than those issued by DVLA.
  • Display trade plates if the trade licence has expired.
  • Display trade licence plates if you become ineligible to be a trade plate holder.
  • Use the vehicle for any purpose other than those specified in the trade plates regulation.
  • Use a vehicle for the general conveyance of goods or burden.

Note: Unauthorised use of DVLA trade plates can result in a fine up to £5,000 and a prison term not exceeding two years.

How to Apply for Trade Licence Plates

You can apply for a trade licence at any point during the year. But the month you apply will determine the amount you pay and how long your licence is valid for.

For example, in January you have the option to apply for a 12 month licence. This is not the case in any other month of the year since all licenses expire on either the 30th June or the 31st of December.

If you want to get the most value from your trade licence then January is the best time to apply. If you apply in February then you pay the same rate of duty for all vehicles, but your licence is only valid for 11 months.

Choose the correct trade plate renewal application form from this list and then download the PDF document for completion:

Note: Further guidance is available on how to fill in a VTL301 application form if it will be your first trade licence.

You will need to supply one of these documents when applying for a first trade licence or renewing trade plates:

  • Companies House registration number.
  • A copy of the business’s public liability insurance certificate.
  • A copy of the business’s motor trade plate insurance certificate.

Note: Remember to send copies (not originals) as the DVLA do not return trade plate application documents.

DVLA Motor Trade Licence Plates in United Kingdom