10 of the Most Expensive License Plates Around the World
License plates may vary by state, but one thing that can be seen across state lines is the use of vanity plates. Vanity plates are personalized license plates that, for a fee, allow owners to display any government-approved combination of letters or numbers on their cars. While many plates cost $100 or less to register (with annual fees thereafter), some can be purchased for more than the price of the cars themselves–and then some.
But just what, exactly, makes these plates worth any value to begin with? For starters, clever words and phrases are enough to turn your average license plates into collectibles. However, desirability is key. The higher the demand for any one license plate, the higher the value. Buyers all over the world are willing to pay millions for the most valuable plates, especially in some of the world’s wealthiest nations.
Below, see just how much some of the most expensive license plates in the world cost.
- “MM”: $24.3m in California, USA
The “MM” plate is one of just 35 two-letter plates in the US, where two-letter plates are rare. If those two letters are identical, though, that’s the true rarity. MM, a California plate whose letters are the initials of the plate’s first owner, is therefore a highly sought-after plate. The MM license plate is currently for sale in Ethereum cryptocurrency (along with an NFT option) and valued at a staggering $24.3 million. If purchased, it could earn the title of most expensive plate ever sold.
One might think a plate of this value would be affixed to a luxury car; however, interestingly enough, as per LookupAPlate.com, the plate was issued to none other than a 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Oz Rally. We can’t say for sure what the Mitsubishi is worth, but a generously estimated 75,000 miles on this car would give it a Kelly Blue Book Value of less than $5,000. At $24.3m, the plate could be worth more than 4,000 times the cost of the car!
- “F1”: $20m in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is home to another shockingly expensive license plate, the “F1.” Perhaps one of the more obviously desirable license plates on the list, the F1 plate stands for Formula 1, the top racing series in the world. We’d venture to guess that just about any automotive enthusiast would want a plate that makes them feel like they’re in an F1 race every time they start their engine. But that feeling comes at a cost, and British entrepreneur Afzal Kahn paid somewhere between $530-620k for the plate back in 2008, which was tied to its previous owner’s Volvo S80. While the proceeds went to charity, the now-worth $20m plate went straight to Kahn’s Bugatti Veyron.
- “NEW YORK”: $20m in New York, USA
There’s something wholesome about a New York-based Volvo V70 owner purchasing a “New York” personalized plate at a reasonable price when the government started to
allow vanity plates in the 1970s. Even more wholesome is the fact that the plate has been in the same family ever since. Now, the owner’s son is selling the plate, along with the original Volvo, for a casual $20m. Who doesn’t love a two-for-one special?
- “1”: $14.3m in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
As Ricky Bobby said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last,” and the number “1” plate is certainly a winner. Abu Dhabi businessman Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri scooped up the plate at a charity auction in 2008 for $9.5m. In wealthy regions, like Abu Dhabi and Dubai, it’s not only the cars that reveal their owners’ status but also the license plates they’re adorned with. Specifically, single-digit plates are highly regarded. So, with a number 1 license plate, Khouri is effectively telling the rest of Abu Dhabi that he’s number 1 on the road.
- “AA9”: $10m in Dubai, UAE
Next in line is the $10m “AA9” plate which was sold in May 2021 at the Most Noble Numbers auction in Dubai. At the auction, both desirable license plates (think: single to triple digits) and mobile numbers (think: repeating numbers) are up for grabs. As with the “1” plate, the proceeds went to charity.
- “D5”: $9.6m in Dubai, UAE
“D5” may sound like a Bingo callout, but we can’t think of many Bingo games with a prize worth $9.6m. Property developer Balwinder Sahni added this plate to his collection after he paid $9.6m for it at an auction. The story behind the “D5” plate is that Sahni wanted it to match his other number 9 plate. D, being the fourth letter in the English alphabet, has a numerical value of 4, giving the plate two digits: 4 and 5. When added together, they equal 9, thereby matching the “9” plate he already owned.
- “AA8”: $9.5m in Dubai, UAE
At the 2022 Most Noble Numbers auction, Dubai plate “AA8” caused a stir when it became one of the most expensive license plates in the world. The plate was sold for
$9.5m, and proceeds went toward the 1 Billion Meals charity.
- “09”: $6.7m in Dubai, UAE
Remember when we said Balwinder Sahni was into the number 9? He purchased the “09” plate back in 2015 for up to $6.7m. Time will tell if more “9” plates will be added to his collection.
- “5”: $4.6m Abu Dhabi, UAE
Despite his propensity to buy 9 plates, Sahni still found it in his budget to purchase a number 5. In fact, he purchased the “5” plate back in 2016 for $4.6m. The money reportedly went toward improving Abu Dhabi’s infrastructure.
- “7”: $3.9m in Abu Dhabi, UAE
Lucky number 7 was sold in 2016 to an Emirati businessman. The “7” plate was purchased in celebration of the seven emirates. For $3.9m, we’re sure there was quite the celebration at the time of purchase.