From car dealers and repairers to vehicle testers, many jobs in the motor trade involve collecting and delivering vehicles or testing other people’s cars on public roads, for example after modification or repair, or during a test drive with a prospective purchaser. Trade plates remove the need to register and tax every vehicle temporarily in your possession.

We take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions on the subject of trade plates.

How do they work?

Trade plates are temporary number plates to be used on unlicensed cars.

You need to apply to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) for a trade licence. Trade licences last for 6 or 12 months, and expire on 30th June or 31st December. First-time applicants can get 7 to 11 month licences. You can download the correct forms and view the current pricing structure from

How should trade plates be displayed?

For full guidance on how to correctly display trade plates, please click here.

Trade plates should not be displayed in any other position on a vehicle – for example, it is not possible for the original registration plates to be obscured and the trade plates to subsequently be displayed in the front windscreen of a vehicle.

What are the rules?

Trade plates must be used only for the particular business purposes for which they were issued. It is an offence to use more than one vehicle under a trade licence at any one time, and to keep a vehicle on a road when not in use except in certain emergency situations.

The penalty for misusing trade plates is a maximum fine of £5,000 and a possible prison term not exceeding two years for fraudulently altering or using trade plates.

To ensure your commercial motor insurance is keeping you adequately protected, talk to Finch Group today – you can call us on 0118 969 8855 or email

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