Retain a number plate

Retain a number plate

This page was last updated on 1 May 2022

Retain a number plate In 2022

This post will teach you how to retain a private number plate so you can keep it for yourself, pass it on to a new automobile, or sell it. This method is especially important with personalised number plates. Putting a number plate on retention is a simple process. 

How do I retain a number plate?

Sometimes you don’t want to replace your personal registration number because you don’t have a new car to put it on. Maybe you’ve sold your vehicle or purchased a new private number but don’t want to delete your old one. 

Whatever the case, keeping a number plate on retention until it is required is an excellent choice. Fortunately, the UK’s vehicle licensing authority, the DVLA, offers both an online service and a postal service for adding and removing number plates under its number plate retention program.

The DVLA must be informed of this wish within 30 days of the initial registration or purchase in order to retain a personalised registration. You may notify the DVLA online at their website. Once you do so, your car’s registration will be removed straight away and returned to your name for future use on a new vehicle. 

You may save money by buying a used automobile with a personalised number plate rather than purchasing a car worth thousands of pounds before your plates enter circulation.

Topics that you will find covered on this page

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How to take a private number plate off a vehicle?

You should put your number plate on retention if you want to do any of the following: remove a private registration number from a car for later use, assign it to another vehicle, or preserve it.

You can’t retain a number plate that starts with “Q” or “NIQ.” When a private number is put on retention, the original registration number of the vehicle is usually reassigned to it by the DVLA. If your application is accepted, you will be sent a V778 retention document, which is valid for 10 years, and a new logbook (V5C). 

Before scrapping or selling your car, make sure you have your V778 and new log book; otherwise, you will lose the right to use the private plate.

What are the conditions for retaining a number plate?

Putting a private number plate on retention is a fairly simple process. Nevertheless, there are several conditions that the car you are removing them from must meet:

  • DVLA registered
  • available for an inspection
  • a type that requires an MOT or heavy goods vehicle (HGV) test certificate and must function properly
  • be taxed or have been taxed within the last 5 years
  • If not taxed, an SORN (statutory off-road notification) must be in place continuously from the expiry date.

Required documents for retaining a private number plate

You will need the V5C (logbook) for the car. If you are applying online you will need the 11 digit Document Reference Number (found on page 1).

How to apply to take off a number plate

You can submit an application online or by post. It costs £80 to complete the process. You must provide a copy of the vehicle’s logbook (V5C). If the vehicle is not in your name, you must apply by post.

How to apply to retain a number plate online

If applying online, go to the DVLA registrations website and follow the instructions. The service is available daily from 7am to 7pm. The registration will be removed from circulation straight after you make the application.

number plate retention

To apply online you will need to have your V5C Registration Document and pay the £80 DVLA transfer fee. As soon as you have completed your online application and payment, the registration number will be removed from your car. This may not be the case if the DVLA deem it fit to inspect your vehicle in-person beforehand.

The DVLA will then send you a Retention Document and a V5C. Wait for your V778 retention document and your new, updated V5C to arrive.

Once you’ve completed retention, do not display the number on your vehicle. You should display the replacement V5C document you have been issued with which shows the registration number that has been assigned to your new, different vehicle as opposed to your old one.

Sometimes you don't want to replace your personal registration number because you don't have a new car to put it on. Maybe you've sold your vehicle or purchased a new private number but don't want to delete your old one. 

Applying to put a number plate on retention by post

Download the V317 form from the DVLA website.

On page 1 of the form, tick the box to say that you want to remove the number from a vehicle and keep it on a retention document.

Fill in part 7 of the form (located on page 2) with your car details and a contact phone number. The car details are found in your V5C registration document or logbook.

Only complete part 9 of the form if there is a change of ownership of the number plate.

Only complete part 10 of the form if a car dealer is acting on your behalf and you wish them to receive all relevant correspondence and documentation.

Send the completed V317 form and all other required items to DVLA at the address on the form.

To recap, you must send:

  • The V317 form
  • V5C vehicle registration document
  • The retention fee of £80

Wait for the arrival of your V778 retention document and updated V5C.

If the number you are retaining was a private or personalised number plate then DVLA replacement registration will be the registration the car was originally issued with.

put number plate on retention

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How long does it take to retain a number plate?

Your existing registration will usually be removed as soon as you make an online application. If you are applying by post, the registration will be removed within a period of two weeks. You will have to wait for your V778 Retention Document, MOT certificate, and a new V5C to be sent to you. The new V5C may take up to six weeks to arrive.

The V778 gives you the right to use the number plate for ten years, and you will be notified before it expires. You will be the registered owner of the plate until it reaches its expiration date. If you wish to keep your number plate after that time, you must renew it every ten years. It is important that you do not want to sell or otherwise dispose of your car until you get your V778 as this could result in you losing the right to your number plate.

Who to inform about your number plate retention

If you have updated your registration details, you must update the number for any existing vehicle-related direct debits, such as the:

  • Congestion Charge
  • Low Emission Zone Charge
  • Ultra Low Emission Zone Charge
  • Dart Charge
  • and any other charges for driving in Clean Air Zones

If you enter one of these zones without having updated your registration details, you may be liable to pay a penalty charge.

You must also inform the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation scheme if your vehicle has a certification.

You must also inform your insurance company. 

private plate retention

Selling a private number plate

You may now sell your number plate once you’ve retained it. If you have personalised plates, this might be a smart move because certain combinations of numbers, letters, or phrases can frequently bring in large sums. Personalised registrations are also available online and in publications devoted to the industry.

However, if you are selling your number plate, make sure not to share a scan, photograph or any other image of your V778 or any other documents as someone other than a prospective number could use it to put your private number on another vehicle without payment or your permission.

Transferring your private number plate to an existing car

Retaining your number plate through gaining a Retention Document is useful for when you aim to sell your personalised plate or just keep hold of them. Often this might be because you have not yet found a new car and you want to transfer your number plate to a potential new car in the near future. However, if you already have a different car that you want to transfer your personalised registration to you, do not need to retain your private plates but can do this simply by filling in a V317 form. But first, the following conditions must be met:

  • The DVLA has to have a record of the car.
  • The car has to be able to move from its own power. 
  • The vehicle must be available for inspection by the DVLA.
  • The car must function properly and be able to pass an MOT
  • The new private number plates must not be newer than the vehicle. This is to stop unscrupulous used car dealers from making a quick buck by fitting newer plates to old cars to make them younger and therefore appearing more fashionable or more likely to function better. Considering the vast rate of depreciation on cars, this is a sound consideration on the part of the DVLA.
put a plate on retention

If these are met you can fill in form V317 with the details of the car you want to remove the plate from, add your contact details and fill in the details of the vehicle you want to put the registration on. You will need the V5C documents for both vehicles, but the new car can even be in someone else’s name.

We hope that this article has answered all your questions about keeping your personalised registration and has shown that number plate retention is indeed a simple process.

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Article author

James Lloyd

I am the primary writer and author for Help and Advice, having originally helped start the site because I recognised that there was a need for easy to read, free and comprehensive information on the web. I have been able to use my background in finance to produce a number of articles for the site, as well as develop the financial fitness assessment tool. This is a tool that provides you with practical advice on improving your personal financial health.

Outside of work I am a keen rugby player and used to play up to a semi-professional level before the years of injury finally took their toll.  Now you are more likely to see me in the clubhouse enjoying the game.

Email – james@helpandadvice.co.uk

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I retain a number plate?

Sometimes you don’t want to replace your personal registration number because you don’t have a new car to put it on.

How to take a private number plate off a vehicle?

You should put your number plate on retention if you want to do any of the following: remove a private registration number from a car for later use, assign it to another vehicle, or preserve it.

How to apply to take off a number plate

You can submit an application online or by post. It costs £80 to complete the process. You must provide a copy of the vehicle’s logbook (V5C).

How long does it take to retain a number plate?

Your existing registration will usually be removed as soon as you make an online application. If you are applying by post, the registration will be removed within a period of two weeks.

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