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How to retain a number plate


If you are looking to take a number plate off a car or HGV, you can click here to go to the DVLA website where you can transfer a registration number from one car to another, or retain your number plate until you want to use it. Note that the registration number will be removed from the vehicle straight away. The vehicle will either get the original registration number (if available) re-assigned to it as a replacement, or a new 'age related' registration (of the same age as the vehicle).

Alternatively, you can retain a number plate by completing a V317 form (Application to keep a vehicle registration number) and send it to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. The address to send it to is DVLA, Personalised Registrations, Swansea SA99 1DS.

How much does it cost to retain a number plate?

It currently costs £80 to retain a number plate by taking it off a vehicle. Payment of this fee will be shown on the V778 retention document, also known as a retention certificate when the number plate retention application process is complete. There is then no further charge when you wish to put the number plate onto a suitable vehicle.

You can pay by debit or credit card to retain a number plate online; or a cheque, bankers draft or postal order made payable to 'DVLA Swansea' if you are applying to retain a number plate using a V317 form.

Steps to retaining number plates online or by post

You can retain a private number plate from a vehicle to certificate both online and via the post. Let's explore the steps for each option.

Five steps to retain a number plate online

  1. First, ensure your name is correct on the V5C document.
  2. Next, click the green button on the DVLA's guide for removing a private number plate.
  3. Type the private number plate you want removed.
  4. Fill in the details and use your V5C document to find your reference number and postcode of the registered keeper.
  5. Confirm you are indeed the registered keeper and pay the DVLA retention fee. This is £80.

That's it! Your V778 retention document may take up to 6 weeks to arrive, but once you've completed the five steps, you'll be issued a replacement V5C that includes your new registration number that replaces the old one on your vehicle. Speaking of which, to drive your vehicle, you'll need to display your new, replacement private number plate.

Five steps to retain a number plate via post

  1. Start by downloading the V317 Form from the DVLA website.
  2. Print it and put an X in option B before completing section one on page two with your vehicle's details. Make sure these details match your V5C.
  3. Complete section three with your details, if you're the one making the application, and then complete section 4.1 fi there's a change of ownership for the registration number.
  4. Fill in section 4.2 if a dealer is acting on your behalf and you'd like them to receive documentation and correspondence for you.
  5. Enclose an £80 cheque made out to DVLA Swansea with your V317 form and vehicle logbook. Head to the post office and send it all to the address on your V317 form, and you're good to go.

If your application is successful, you or your dealer will receive a new V5C in around two weeks, generally speaking.

What are the regulations for number plate retention?

  • You must be the registered keeper of the vehicle which currently has the registration - it must exist and be registered with the DVLA
  • The vehicle must be taxed or be declared SORN (the SORN must be in place for the last 5 years without any gaps)
  • The vehicle also needs to be available for inspection by the DVLA (in some instances they request to do this before issuing new documents)
  • The vehicle must be of a testable type (requiring an MOT) and be able to move under its own power
  • The registration must not start with a Q or QNI (as these are non-transferable) and your V5C (log book) should not have any note marking the plate as "non-transferable"

What documents do I need to retain a personalised number plate?

To retain a private number plate, you'll need the V5C (log book) for the car. If you are applying online you will need the 11 digit Document Reference Number (you should find this half way down on the right hand side of the first page).

What happens if my number plate retention certificate expires?

If your retention certificate expires, you'll lose the right to use the registration. If you make your renewal application after the expiration date on your document, the DVLA won't accept it.

  • If it's not on a vehicle, you need to renew your right to use your registration every ten years.
  • If you bought the registration before 2015, and have not renewed it, you may have lost the registration.
  • If you aren't sure where to find your renewal expiration date or how often you need to renew it, check your V750 or V778 document.

To renew your retention document (V778):

  1. Fill in section 5 of the document.
  2. Sign section 6.
  3. Post the document to DVLA Personalised Registrations, DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1DS.

You can renew your retention document up to 28 days before the expiration date. Applying earlier than this may lead to your application being refused by the DVLA.

How do I pass the rights of a registration number to someone else?

You can pass the rights of the registration number to someone else (called a grantee) if, for example:

  • You are selling the registration number
  • You wish to retain it for someone else who will not have any rights to the registration number until you put it on a vehicle registered in their name (called a nominee) completing a V317 form (Application to keep a vehicle registration number) and sending it to the DVLA, Personalised Registrations, Swansea SA99 1DS.

What do I need to do if I am applying online to retain a registration?

If you are applying online, click here to go to the DVLA website and follow the instructions on the screen. The service is available from 7am to 7pm. Remember that the registration will be removed straight away.

What do I need to do to make a DVLA number plate retention request with a V317 form?

You will need to download and print off a V317 form (Application to keep a vehicle registration number).

The registered keeper fills in sections 2, 3 and 9.1 of the V317 form. If you want to put a grantee's details on the retention certificate, complete 9.1, or if you want to add a nominee complete 9.2.

You should be aware that, although the retained registration can be assigned to a vehicle registered in either the name of the grantee or the nominee, only the grantee has the right to the registration.

Send the completed V317 plus your V5C log book (the original - not a photocopy) to DVLA Personalised Registrations, Swansea, SA99 1DS.

What happens after the DVLA have retained my number plate?

Once your application is approved, you will be sent a new V5C log book for your vehicle showing the appropriate replacement registration, and a V778 retention document for the number plate you are retaining. This usually arrives within two weeks. But if the DVLA have requested to inspect the vehicle (in some cases they do request to do this) then it could be up to four weeks. If you have requested to retain the registration in someone else's name (you put another name and address different to your own in section 9a as the grantee), the V778 retention document will be sent to them at their address.

Last updated: Monday 3rd July 2023

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