Sell my number plate – how to buy and sell private plates

The cars we drive may have changed dramatically in the last decade or so as SUVs of all shapes and sizes continue to replace saloons and hatchbacks, but you only have to take a walk down any street to see that private number plates are as popular now as they’ve ever been in the UK.

Why settle for an ordinary plate if you can get something personalised? Read on for simple buying and selling advice…

Private and personalised number plates are a tricky business, especially when it comes to buying and selling them.

If you’ve never had a private number plate on your vehicle, or if you haven’t had one for a very long time, the whole process of buying, selling and getting something personalised assigned to a car or commercial vehicle might appear daunting.

In reality it’s not too complex, as long as you know what you’re doing and you follow the process correctly. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a private number plate, here’s our guide to how it’s done.

Buying and selling private number plates explained:

  1. How to sell a private number plate
  2. How to buy a private number plate
  3. The difference between V750 and V778 certificate
  4. How to put a private number plate on retention
  5. Retention document explained
  6. Fees and procedure
  7. V317 form explained

Buying a private number plate

Buying a personalised number plate is easier than ever. There are three main ways you can buy one:

  • Direct from the DVLA – Few actually know that you can buy plates direct from the DVLA, this cuts out any dealer fees. It’s great for standard plates, but if you want something a bit more special dealers or auctions may be the way to go.
  • Dealer – There are swathes of private number plate dealers, and many of them can be found online. Just do a quick search for ‘private number plates’ on Google. Regtransfers.co.uk is a great option. Once you’ve chosen the plate you want and paid the fee, the dealer will issue you with a V750 or V778 certificate through the DVLA that proves you are the owner, and that you have the right to assign it to a vehicle.
  • Privately – You can buy from a private seller in the same way you would from a dealer. However, if the registration number is still currently assigned to the seller’s car, you will have to be right on top of the paperwork to make sure you don’t get left empty-handed after handing over any money.
  • DVLA Auction – The DVLA holds back a lot of good number plates for itself before they ever get assigned to a vehicle, and these number plates are sold at auctions held about five times per year. You can buy them by bidding in person, online, or in writing.

What’s the difference between the V750 and V778 certificate?

When you buy a private plate you will get either a V750 or a V778 certificate. Both documents are essentially the same thing – a certificate proving who owns the number – but a V750 is pink and a V778 is green.

The only real difference is the pink V750 is for a number that has never been allocated to a vehicle before, and the green V778 is for a number that has already been on a vehicle.

An example of the V778 certificate

Selling a private plate

You can sell a personalised number plate you own privately or through a dealer. Although using a dealer will involve paying them a fee, it will take the burden of making sure the paperwork and financial transaction are all in order.

Regtransfers.co.uk offer a service to sell your private plate online, or you can sell on the big classifieds like Gumtree and eBay.

TIP – Never give anyone a photograph of your certificate as it could be used by unscrupulous people to assign the number to their vehicle without paying you. If the number is currently on your vehicle and you want to sell it, you’ll have to place it on retention first…

How to put a personalised number plate on retention

You may hear the term “on retention” a lot when you’re buying or selling a private plate. This is referring to a plate that currently isn’t allocated to a vehicle, but it is owned by someone.

The V778 is actually called the ‘Retention Document’, alongside showing who owns the number, it’s also the document you will need to fill in to assign a number to a specific vehicle. The pink V750 is also a retention document, but for a number that hasn’t yet been on a vehicle.

The retention document explained

An example of the V750 retention document

It’s important to understand that a retention document is only held by the owner of the number plate while it isn’t allocated to a vehicle.

If the plate has been through the transfer procedure and is now on a vehicle, the owner won’t hold a V778 until they apply to the DVLA and pay to have the number put on retention.

Once this has happened, the car that had the private number will either be issued with its original number, if it had one and if it’s still available, or a brand new number appropriate to its date of registration.

Fees and procedure for changing number plates

The fee you have to pay to the DVLA to put a number plate on retention and to receive a V778 certificate is £80, and the process can be done through the post office or online via the DVLA’s site.

Online is obviously easier and quicker, but you still need to be in possession of the vehicle’s V5C registration document, and the retention certificate will be sent to the postcode on the V5C.

If you already have a retention certificate in your name, all you have to do is fill in the relevant sections to assign it to a vehicle and send it in to the DVLA, but once again, it’s quicker and easier to do online.

There is no fee whatsoever to assign a number you have on retention to a vehicle. The £80 fee is only for putting a number on retention or for direct transfer from one vehicle to another.  

V317 Form

V317 document
An example of the V317 document

If you want to transfer a number plate from one vehicle to another or to put a plate on retention, and you’re not doing everything online, you’ll need to get a V317 form from the Post Office or by downloading one from the DVLA.

The form tells you everything you need to know, including what additional paperwork you need and where to send it, along with the £80 fee.  

Still have questions about car ownership?

We hope we covered off everything to do with buying and selling private and personalised number plates above.

If you still have questions, or want to explore the V5, DVLA and general car ownership topics in more detail, make sure to have a read of some of the related guides below: