Retain my number plate – the ultimate guide

    retain my number plate
    Retaining your vehicle’s registration number when selling your car.

    Selling your car comes with all sorts of unavoidable admin, from dealing with your V5C to making sure your vehicle tax refund comes through. If, however, you don’t plan to sell every part of your car, there are more DVLA forms to look forward to. For car owners looking to retain a cherished number plate, you’ll need to let the DVLA know, and you’ll need to do it before you sell your car.

    For full T&Cs click here.

    How to retain a private number plate

    It’s a relatively simple process to retain a vehicle registration number while still being able to sell your vehicle, but the conditions that surround plate retention have to do with the vehicle it’s attached to. This means your car must:

    • Already be registered with the DVLA
    • Have an accompanying V5C logbook
    • Have been taxed for the past 5 years or have a SORN in place for the past 5 years
    • Be currently taxed or have a SORN in place
    • Be eligible for an MOT
    • Undergo inspection

    An inspection may not always be necessary, but you should make sure your car is available if one is needed.

    Most importantly, the car must still be yours, so you can’t have transferred ownership away before you hope to reclaim your plate. It goes without saying that your car will also need to be registered with the DVLA or they will have no record of the vehicle to start with!

    Can I move any retained number plate to any car?

    No, for year-specific plates, like the ’23 plates, you can’t move them to an older car in an attempt to make the vehicle appear younger. If you’re looking to move rather than retain a personal number plate that isn’t year-specific, you’re free to move them to any car.

    If your plates feature a Q or QNI prefix, you also won’t be able to transfer them as they are used on vehicles whose age is in doubt.

    Not that your car should be featuring non-roadworthy plates, but there are strict rules about what a number plate should look like. If, for whatever reason, you have ended up with plates that break these rules, then the DVLA will not allow you to keep them, or use them at all.

    personal number plate
    You can retain your vehicle’s number plate all online.

    Can I retain my number plate online?

    Yes, you can retain a number plate online or by post.

    To retain a number plate online you must:

    1.       Have your V5C

    2.       Visit the DVLA site to move a private number plate

    3.       Pay the required £80 fee

    4.       Wait to receive your V778 retention document and your updated V5C

    To retain a number plate by post you must:

    1.       Download the necessary V317 form from the DVLA website

    2.       Tick the correct area to say you wish to retain a number plate

    3.       Part 7 will need to be filled in with your details and car details as outlined in your V5C

    4.       Parts 9 and 10 of the document will need to be completed if you are selling the plate or having a dealer act on your behalf

    5.       Send the completed V317 document, the £80 fee, and your V5C to the DVLA

    6.       Wait for your new V5C and V778 retention document in the post

    However you apply, the DVLA may need to inspect your vehicle. In total, the process shouldn’t take much longer than a few weeks but may take longer if an inspection is needed.

    What happens to my vehicle if I remove the plates?

    Once your plates have been retained, your old vehicle will either revert back to its original plates or receive a new replacement registration number based on its age. This information will be included in your updated V5C.

    How long can you retain a private number plate?

    You can retain a private number plate for 10 years where it will be placed on the retention register. After 10 years you will need to renew your retention or assign the plate to a registered vehicle. If you do neither, the plate will simply cease to exist as one that can be either retained or used as part of a vehicle registration.

    How much to retain a number plate?

    It costs £80 to retain a number plate which can seem well worth it if you have unique personal plates you wish to keep for your next car.

    What is a V778?

    A V778 is the retention document you will receive when you successfully retain a number plate and serves as proof that your plate has been removed from your previous vehicle. You’re free to sell or scrap your car plate-free once you have this document.

    v778 form DVLA
    The v778 form needed to retain your number plate.

    My car has been sent for scrap, can I retain my plate?

    No, if your car has been sold or scrapped you no longer have the right to retain the plates. Only registered keepers of the vehicle can move or retain its number plates.

    My car was stolen, am I still able to retain my number plate?

    Yes, you can still retain the plates if your car has been stolen, but you will have to wait six months from the theft, or until your car is found. Notably, the DLVA don’t send out any sort of reminder when this six-month window is up, so you’ll have to stick a note in your calendar.

    Can I sell my car with Motorway and retain my number plate?

    Absolutely! So long as you let us know your plans to keep the plates, we will make sure the dealers know they will not be receiving them in the sale.

    But why are Motorway emails still mentioning my private registration plate when I’m retaining it?

    Don’t worry, your car may be described by its reg number in our emails as an easy identifier for your vehicle, this doesn’t mean the plate was included in the sale if you informed us you planned to keep it.

    Ready to sell?

    Need to sell your car, or want to understand more about documentation or maintenance? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from the paperwork you need when buying and selling, to various notices you may need to file with the UK’s driver and vehicle licensing agency.