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Unless you are buying from a trusted friend or family member, the process of buying a number plate from a private seller can have a considerable number of pitfalls.
A major issue is the timing of money changing hands. Before the sale is complete and ownership of the registration has passed to the buyer - to put on a vehicle or retain for future use on a V778 (Retention Certificate) - the funds for the sale must be cleared and a number of forms must be passed between the buyer, the seller and the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency). Number plate dealers will hold the funds until they are cleared and the sale is complete (all the forms have been processed) while in a private sale, there is no third party to do this.
If the sale justifies the extra expense, one idea is to get a solicitor to oversee the process. Some solicitors will confirm the terms in writing and hold the cleared funds until there is proof of that all the forms have been processed satisfactorily. However, because of the regulations around money-laundering, solicitors can be reluctant to do this.
The form required to either transfer or retain the registration being sold can be found in under DVLA Forms. The specific form is V317 - Application to Keep a Vehicle Registration Number and put it on Another Vehicle. There are some notes attached for guidance.
Last updated: Friday 27th July 2018