Car insurance for Q-plate registrations

All vehicles in the UK have a unique number plate that identifies them. But for certain cars, including kit cars and radically modified vehicles, the age and original identity can be tricky to determine.

In these situations, they’ll be issued with a Q-plate. But is it harder to get car insurance for a Q-plate car?

All vehicles in the UK have a unique number plate that identifies them. But for certain cars, including kit cars and radically modified vehicles, the age and original identity can be tricky to determine.

In these situations, they’ll be issued with a Q-plate. But is it harder to get car insurance for a Q-plate car?

Julie Daniels
Insurance expert
4
minute read
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Last Updated 30 MARCH 2022

What are Q-plates? 

Standard registration plates can tell you a lot about a car, including its age, date of manufacture and where it was first registered.

But it’s not always straightforward to figure out a car’s history or origins. In some cases, it might not even have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This is the unique number that identifies your car and is usually stamped onto the chassis.

If any aspect of a car’s history is unknown, it will be issued with a Q-plate registration.

What types of vehicles need Q-plates? 

Vehicles that might need Q-plates include: 

  • Kit cars. This is a car you’ve built yourself. If all the parts are from a single manufacturer, you should be able to apply for a normal registration number. But if they’re from different sources, you’ll probably need Q-plates.
  • Radically modified vehicles. This is where a car has been significantly altered from its original specification. 
  • Reconstructed classic vehicles. Your car may need a Q registration if it includes new or replica parts.
  • Former military vehicles. A car that was used by the Ministry of Defence may still be classified or could have been modified, so it will need Q-plates.
  • Self-imported vehicles. A car imported to the UK from outside the EU will get a Q registration if its age or identity is in doubt.
  •  Vehicles without a VIN. This might have been lost if you’ve rebuilt or radically modified your car. Unless you can prove what the VIN was, you can’t keep your original registration. 

How are Q-plates issued?

Q-plates are issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). To apply for Q-plates, your car will need to pass an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) test.
 
You’ll need to apply for this test if you’ve: 

  • imported your car 
  • built or rebuilt your car 
  • radically altered your car 
  • reconstructed a classic car

If your car already has an original registration number, it will become invalid once you’re issued with a Q-plate.

Is it difficult to insure a Q-plate car?

Yes, it can be trickier to find car insurance for a Q-plate car than for a standard vehicle.

That’s because it’s harder for insurance providers and underwriters to calculate the risk of insuring the car if they don’t have its full history to go on.

Where can I find car insurance for a Q-plate car?

You’ll most likely find that mainstream insurance providers don’t provide car insurance for Q-plate vehicles. And, for that reason, you can’t compare Q-plate car insurance with Compare the Market.

To get the right level of cover for your Q-plate car, you may need to find a specialist provider or car insurance broker

You’ll be asked to provide as much information as you can about the car, including: 

  • Its make, model and full specification details
  • Details of any modifications, including changes to the engine, bodywork, wheels, brakes and suspension
  • A breakdown of parts used
  • Photos of the car and any associated documents.

Bear in mind that if you have a Q-plate car, it’s likely to cost you more to insure than a standard car.

Frequently asked questions

What does the Q stand for?

Some people have speculated that the Q stands for ‘queried’, ‘questionable’ or even ‘quite dodgy’. There’s no definitive answer on this, but what’s more likely is that a Q is used because it’s one of the few letters that isn’t already used in standard vehicle registrations.

Can I change my Q-plate for a personalised plate?

No, once your car has been issued with a Q-plate, you can’t remove it from the vehicle. This means you can’t swap it for a personalised number plate, and the plate can’t be sold or transferred between cars. The Q registration must be used for the entire time the car is on the road.

Do Q-plate cars need an MOT?

Cars that have a Q-plate will usually need an annual MOT, just like most other vehicles. That said, if the car is more than 40 years old, taxed as a vehicle of historical interest and not been significantly modified in the past 30 years, it won’t need an MOT.

Are Q-plate cars safe to drive?

At one time, a Q plate would have automatically raised suspicions about the legitimacy of a vehicle. But the introduction of the IVA test has changed all that. It makes detailed checks of mysterious cars, so if a motor has passed these checks, it should be safe to drive. If you have a self-built car, you can buy specialist temporary insurance to cover taking it to gets its IVA and approval to drive on the road.

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