If you work in the motor trade, you can apply for trade licence plates, more commonly referred to as simply trade plates. A trade plate is a temporary registration plate which can be used on a vehicle while you are driving it for business purposes.
A trade plate licence allows you to drive vehicles in your possession without the need to tax or register them. As temporarily taxing and registering cars or motorcycles would be a complicated and expensive business, a trade licence can save you a great deal of time and money. You’ll also need to make sure your insurance policy covers you to drive vehicles on trade plates. Most jobs in the motor trade qualify for a trade licence, including dealers and traders in new and used cars, manufacturers, mechanics, and valets. You should also be eligible for a trade licence if you test vehicles or vehicle accessories.
You can apply whether you work out of business premises or from your home, no matter how large or small your business. Owners of larger operations may wish to apply for several licences, to enable more than one vehicle to be out on the road at once. The same plate cannot be used on multiple vehicles at the same time. Uses for a trade licence might include transporting a vehicle from the owner’s home to a garage or workshop, demonstrating a vehicle to a customer, or delivering a vehicle to its new owner. Trade licence plates can also be employed when you are testing a vehicle on the road, perhaps after carrying out repairs or installing aftermarket components.
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If you are eligible for a trade licence, you will need to make a postal application through the DVLA. The application form can be downloaded from the DVLA website, along with guidance notes. You should receive a confirmation letter and your trade licence plates, which will arrive separately for security, within four weeks of posting your application and payment to the DVLA. Trade licences last for six or twelve months, with a fixed expiry date of June 30th or December 31st. If you are applying for your first trade licence, however, you don’t need to wait until July or January to make your application, as seven to eleven month licences are available.
If you no longer need trade licence plates, you will need to fill in the relevant form and return the plates. You will receive a refund for the licence period remaining.