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Why pay extra for a license plate in Singapore?

What’s more expensive than a car and just as much as a five-room flat in Sengkang? Hard to believe the answer is a license plate, but back in 2016, the vintage vehicle registration number S 32 H went to a local businessman for a jaw-dropping $335,000 at a public auction. It’s still the most expensive car license plate ever sold in Singapore.

Unless you elect to make a bid for a particular vehicle registration number (VRN), license plates typically don’t cost you anything outside of the usual registration fees. (A pertinent question: how much does the LTA make from these rare number plates, and where does that go?) Plus, the minimum bid for a specific VRN starts at $1,000––which might be a fair bit to cough up after paying for everything else.

So why would anyone pay extra for a license plate? We can think of a few reasons…

1. It’s all about luck

Many Singaporeans prize auspicious items and anything that’ll bring us good fortune. You can make anything auspicious as long as you’ve got the right numbers––so with license plates, those that sound lucky can fetch mind-boggling prices.

An obvious and popular number for number plates is 8, 八 (ba). It sounds similar to 发 (fa) in Mandarin or huat in Hokkien, or ‘to generate wealth.’ It’s no surprise that this is especially popular with the Chinese community. Naturally, the more 8s you have, the luckier––and the more money you have to pay for the plate, since many people will be bidding for these combinations. Maybe it’s a good investment for your financial future?

Conversely, the number 4 is to be avoided because it sounds like 死 (si) or to die. The one possible exception to this rule might be 8484, which could translate to ‘prosperity until death.’ Not a bad way to go, we guess.

2. Rarity value

If you’re the kind of person who likes owning limited-edition products, or collecting Pokemon cards in the hopes of finding the rarest ones, you’ll appreciate why someone might pay a lot for a particular license plate. The super-rare plate mentioned above, S 32 H, is kind of like the Pikachu Illustrator card of the VRN world. But probably a lot more widely relatable and memorable.

3. Sentimental, special, or individual reasons

You might not believe in numbers for financial fortune, and that’s okay. But it can be nice to have numbers that have special meaning to you on your license plate––like a partner’s birthday or your favourite numbers. Then again, you could also be one of those people who’d jump at combinations like 666 or 6969 or SA551 (Sassy). And why not?

Whether you’d pay a few hundred thousand dollars for a number plate purely out of sentiment (or to troll everyone else) is another kettle of fish altogether, but if you have the cash to spare, a few thousand dollars for a plate with your birthday digits can’t hurt.

4. Keeping it in the family

There are more pragmatic reasons for wanting a particular license plate, of course. If your family has owned the VRN for a number of years, it provides a nice sense of continuity if you can carry that plate over to a new car after the COE on the previous expires. Plus, it’s easier to remember the same combination of digits for years––trust us, it makes filling in forms that much simpler…

Need an estimate for how much a particular combination on a license plate will cost? We’re here to help. Head on over to ST Auto for a chat and test drive with our friendly sales staff! Call +65 6464 9098 or email us at

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