Choosing Funny Number Plates While Avoiding the DVLA Blacklist

If you’ve ever looked at a vehicle’s number plate trying to figure what word it might spell – and then laughed (or even gasped) out loud as it became clear – you know there are many combinations that can spell something…unexpected.

While many people in the market for personalised number plates want one that refers to a name, career, or other personal note, others are all about the laughs (and those of us stuck in traffic thank you).

Unfortunately, DVLA doesn’t share everyone’s sense of humour, having banned a few number plates. Since DVLA continues to ban more plates each year, your plate could land on that list.

How can you select a plate that earns a chuckle but won’t upset the censors? Here are a few rules to abide by.

Demure from the Naughty Bits

Unless you want a plate with a combination that refers to a more innocuous body part like a foot (perhaps you’re a podiatrist), you’ll need to keep body parts out of it.

Plates that spell out any body part that is considered sexual are on the naughty list. Some of the plates that fit this bill include recently banned “VA61 ANA” and “SC12 OTM”.

Oddly enough, DVLA has passed the plate that reads PEN 15. But don’t count on it remaining acceptable for long, as there are regular meetings to determine what gets blacklisted. Better to err on the side of caution if you want to hold on to it.

Skip Sexual References

It’s not just body parts that will get the DVLA concerned about the potential sexual reference in a number plate. Plates that refer to sexual acts are also on the banned list.

Recently the DVLA gave took a hammer to the number plate “BLO3 JOB”. Also banned? “PE12 VRT”

It’s hard to think of a sexual reference that most people will find tasteful, so odds are good these funny number plates are headed for DVLA’s chopping block if they haven’t reached it just yet.

Avoid Drugs or Drinking

The DVLA has also come down on plates that refer to alcohol and drugs, whether directly naming a drug or referring to being under the influence. Authorities feel that having the plate “DR12 UNK” on your car might send the wrong message.

Also banned are plates referring to heroin (“HE12 OIN”) and to addiction in general (“AD13 CTS”, “DR12 UGY”).

Pass on Race and Religion

Another banned category is anything that might be deemed racist or referring to religion. That second category can get somewhat tricky – a recent sale of personalised number plates saw “KR15 HNA”, referring to the Hindu deity Krishna, sell for a whopping £233,000.

Other religious references, however, made the banned list. Banned plates include references to the Devil himself (“LU61 FER”) and to the Koran (“KO12 ANN”).

Since it’s difficult to say what the DVLA might deem offensive in this category in the future, it’s best to give it some serious thought before paying a lot of money for your selection.

Choosing a Funny Plate

There are plenty of other plates that DVLA deems rude or offensive, not all of them fitting into a particular category. In fact, the list of banned plates is 49 pages long and continues to grow. So how can you find a plate that is funny without being in danger of landing on the blacklist?

In addition to avoiding the above categories, pay close attention to the line between cheeky and rude. For many it’s fairly easy to define the difference, but you may want to err on the side of caution.

Imagine who might be sitting in the car behind you, the range of sensibilities of the people on the road, and how they might perceive a particular plate. With thousands of plates available, you should be able to find something funny that won’t cross the line.