There is often some confusion on what trade plates are actually for. Most people think, or assume they are for insurance purposes but they are in fact to cover the motor trader purely for Road Tax. It means the trader can drive a vehicle without having to tax it. It must still be insured and have MOT (unless travelling to a prebooked MOT) and the trade plates should be put on the motor traders policy.

Displaying Trade Plates

trade platesWhen i first got my trade plates there wasnt any information provided on how i should legally display them, so i called the DVLA for clarification. Funnily enough the lady who answered had to consult someone else! Yeah if they dont know what hope have we got! Anyway the legislation is they should be displayed front and rear over the current registration plates unless its not safe or practical to do so. In this case they should be placed as close to this position as possible. As you will be aware, most traders pop them in the front windscreen and rear window. This is acceptable but be prepared to tell a copper if you are stopped it wasnt possible to place them over the registration plates.

You should also place the trade plate with the tax disc in the front not the rear.

Using Trade Plates

Trade plates are designed for use for limited reasons (as below) do not get caught using them to nip to the shops, or make a deviation on your intended journey e.g. a MacDonalds drive through. If you get caught you’ll get in trouble.

Permitted Uses of Trade Plates

Permitted uses of trade licences
Trade licences must be used only for the particular
business purposes for which they were issued.
These include:
• to test or trial a vehicle, its accessories or equipment
during or immediately after its construction,
modification or repair
• for a return journey to public weighbridge or for
registration or inspection by an authorised official
• to undertake a test trial for the benefit of a
prospective purchaser or the press
• to demonstrate the operation of a vehicle, its
accessories or equipment, when being handed over
to a purchaser and delivering it to the place where
they intend to keep it.
• for moving vehicles:
– for valeting or accessory fitting between traders’
premises (valeting means the thorough cleaning
of a vehicle before its registration or in order to
prepare it for sale and includes removing wax and
grease from the exterior engine and interior).
– to a workshop where special equipment or
accessories are fitted
– between traders’ premises and a place where it
starts or finishes a journey
– between traders’ premises and auctions or other
places of sale
• to go to and from places of test or inspection and for
going to a place for breaking and dismantling.
A motor trader: may use the trade licence on
mechanically propelled vehicles only if they are
temporarily in their possession in the course of their
A motor trader who is a manufacturer: may also
use the licence on a vehicle kept only for research
and development purposes, or on vehicles that are
submitted to them for testing by other manufacturers.
A vehicle tester: may use the trade licence only on
vehicles submitted to them for testing (including the
vehicles trailer, its accessories or equipment).

You can apply for trade plates here and they cost roughly £90 to £165 depending on the length you register them for (6 to 12 months or part thereof).