Retention of a Personalised Number Plate

There are occasions when you may need to separate your personalised registration from your car. The usual reason is because the car is going to be sold and you don’t want lose the rights to display your personalised plate.

There are two options available when removing a registration from a vehicle; you can either transfer a registration direct to another vehicle (postal applications only), or you can apply to remove a registration from a vehicle (place it on a retention). Once retained, a registration can be held on certificate for as long as you like – or it can be put on (assigned) to another vehicle.

The quickest and easiest way to take a number plate off a vehicle is to retain online. The registration can then be put on a different vehicle straight away using the online facility (subject to acceptance). The fee is exactly the same (£80) and you are effectively completing a cherished transfer online, just as a two step process – take a plate off (retain) and put a plate on a vehicle (assign). 

If your online retention application is successful you should receive a replacement V5C Registration Certificate by post two working days later.

online retention application


If you get a message saying ‘this registration number cannot be retained online’ ring the telephone number on-screen and speak to an advisor. Often the DVLA telephone assistant can make a simple adjustment allowing the application to be processed at the second attempt.

If you provide an email address while completing your online retention application, you will receive confirmation that your application is complete.

retention application confirmation email


If your application can’t be completed online, download form V317 and apply by post.


Changes have been made to the retention scheme since this article was originally published in 2010. The information you are reading is regularly updated and reflects changes as recent as February 2016.

Documents required to retain a private number plate:

The V5C Registration Certificate – often called the ‘log book’

DVLA form V317 signed by the registered keeper of the vehicle (for postal applications)

£80 fee (cheque, bankers draft or postal order payable to DVLA Swansea for postal applications – credit or debit card if applying online)

Where should you apply?

Postal applications should be sent to:

Personalised Registrations
SA99 1DS

If you are applying to retain your private number plate because you intend to sell your vehicle, it is definitely wise to plan ahead. It can take four weeks for DVLA to process a retention application by post. Please allow enough time to separate your cherished registration ensuring you have replacement vehicle documents from DVLA before selling or part-exchanging your car.

DVLA will automatically issue an age-related replacement registration when you retain the existing plate. Typically the vehicle is reunited with its original registration.

Since Monday 9th March 2015 all V778 retention documents issued by DVLA are valid for 10 years with no fee payable to renew or extend the document. For more information about these changes, read: It now costs less to retain your personalised registration.

If you would like to put your retained private plate on a different vehicle, you can assign a private number plate online.

On the left-hand side of your retention document, just above section 1, you will most likely see the words: ‘THE ASSIGNMENT FEE HAS ALREADY BEEN PAID’. This indicates there are no additional fees payable to DVLA to put your retained plate on a vehicle.

For more information please visit the number plates & vehicle registration section at GOV.UK or contact DVLA.

84 thoughts on “Retention of a Personalised Number Plate

  1. gemma

    i applied to put my private number plate on retention i have received the new tax disc and document back but not the new v5 logbook do i get this separately ? Need to know asap cause someone wants to buy the car

    Thank You

  2. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Gemma, Yes the V5C logbook does come separately from DVLA Swansea. If you have already received the replacement tax disc and the green retention document, expect to receive the V5C in the next couple of days. Remember to notify your motor insurer when you change the number plates/tax disc.

  3. Andy

    Hi, if I pay the £105 to retain the plate do I then have to pay the £80 to transfer it 2 weeks later when I have a new vehicle to put it on?



  4. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Andy, You don’t have to pay anything when you assign your plate to your new car providing the name of the Grantee or Nominee on the retention document matches the name of the registered keeper of the vehicle. The £105 retention fee is made up of an £80 transfer fee, plus a £25 admin fee. Remember you can assign your registration at the same time as notifying DVLA that you are the new keeper of the car. Go along with the paperwork to your nearest DVLA local office and they will sort it for you.

  5. Dean

    I have been thinking about buying a plate and have hit a stumbling block after reading about retaining the original plate for the vehicle with the v317. Do I need to retain the original number by paying this fee for when I sell the car and swap my plate to a new car? Or do the dvla automatically reassign the original plate back to vehicle??

  6. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Dean, If you go ahead and buy a plate you don’t have to retain your car’s existing registration. When you put a private plate on a car the original registration is held on the DVLA computer. When the time comes to sell your car you can retain your private plate and as part of the process DVLA will allocate an age-related registration to your car; 99% of the time it will be the car’s original registration. This article explains replacement registrations in more detail.

  7. robbie thomson

    If i go to the local dvla office to retain my cherished plate, do i need the new v5 before i can sell the car privately? or can i sell it once i get the go-ahead from the dvla?

  8. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Robbie, Most people will be reluctant to buy a second-hand car from a stranger without a V5C logbook. If you are selling to a friend or if someone in your family is buying your car, you could make a written agreement between yourselves stating the change of keeper date and that the buyer is responsible for any parking tickets/fines/motoring offences etc. Then when the V5C arrives you can officially notify DVLA of the change of keeper.

  9. Andrew Mantle

    Hi James, I have bought a personal number and have been assigned the Nominee by the Grantee on form V778, I now wish to assign the number to my vehicle but also wish to keep/retain the personal number I already have on my vehicle, I’m about to send the following documents to transfer and retain my personal numbers.

    Form: V778 section 1 completed with my vehicle details and signed by the Grantee
    Form: V317 (retention) sections 1, 2, and 4 completed and signed by me
    My current valid MOT certificate.
    Form V5C (my log book) do I need to sign this?
    Cheque payment for 12 months retention = £105.00

    is all present and correct?


  10. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Andrew, Is your name already showing in the nominee section of the V778 (top-left underneath where the registration is shown in a box)? If so then everything seems to be in order. You do not have to sign your V5C unless you are notifying DVLA of any changes (new keeper/new address, etc.) at the same time. If it is convenient I suggest handing the application in at your nearest DVLA Local Office. They will check everything for you at the counter before sending off to Swansea. Alternatively you can post your application to: DVLA, Swansea SA99 1DS.

  11. John

    Getting a motability car but have private i have to pay £80,thenfurther £ changeit over.

  12. James Saperia Post author

    Hi John, I’m going to assume your private registration is displayed on your current vehicle. If that is the case and you pay £105 to retain your reg, you don’t have to pay a further £80 when you assign it to your motability car. If your circumstances are different to my assumptions, give me a bit more information and I will advise accordingly.

  13. Laura

    Hi, we have a buyer for our car, and just realised we need to retain the private plate. Is there a way of changing ownership and retaining the plate in our name at the same time?

  14. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Laura, The simple answer is yes, providing the buyer of your car agrees to it. You can notify DVLA of the new keeper and retain your private plate by adding your name and address in the Grantee section on the V317. The person buying your car would drive it away & insure it with the private plates still attached but then have to change the number plates and notify their motor insurer in a few weeks time once the retention application is processed. You have to submit the complete V5C (log-book) with the retention application which means the new keeper doesn’t get to keep the green slip (V5C/2) whilst the paperwork is being processed. Providing the buyer is in agreement it can be done. I definitely suggest handing the application in at your nearest DVLA Local Office to make sure everything is completed correctly. The new keeper must sign the V317 form as they are effectively the keeper when the application is submitted.

  15. Shona Blacklock

    Hi James. Easily confused! I bought a 10 year old Mazda from a garage a month ago & the salesman said I needed to retain my personal number plate from my Honda costing me £105, I think it was because the Mazda was owned by a disabled lady? I’m still not clear as to why I needed to retain the plate, & not just do a straight swap filling in the relevant section of the form, from car to car? Also, do I need to keep paying every year, as it seems to be only retained til Sept ’14?
    All I wanted to do was put my personal plate on my ‘new’ Mazda, but its so confusing…
    Thanks, Shona !

  16. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Shona, There are a lot of garages who won’t submit vehicle to vehicle transfers at the moment. DVLA are going through a transition period which has meant cherished transfers are not being dealt with as quickly as they used to be. Putting your retained registration onto your new car is a fairly straightforward task and can still be done at the counter of your nearest DVLA Local Office at this moment in time. You need your retention document (V778), the V5C Registration Certificate for your Mazda, the MOT Certificate and the expiry date from your existing tax disc. If your tax disc is due to expire this month I recommend taxing your car at the same time which also means taking your motor insurance certificate with you.

    The process of putting your retained personal plate on to your new Mazda is referred to as ‘assigning’ by DVLA. You can assign your registration the same day at the counter of your nearest DVLA Local Office and I recommend you go in person if it is practical to do so. Once your registration is assigned to your car there is nothing else to pay on an annual basis as the plate is no longer on retention. If you have any other questions please post them here and I will advise you accordingly.

  17. claire briggs


    Can anyone help, personlised reg on my car, but px it in. Yellow slip was sent to dvla in error. car was sold and the new keeper applied for new v5 to tax it. Dvla sent a new v5 with the personalised reg. Sent dvla a letter once slip had been sent off explaing that it was sent in error but they sat on the paperwork for over a week and in that time timeframe issued the new v5. They are now saying that they will contact the new keeper to see if they will give up the plate, if they wont they are saying ive lost it. Is there anything else i could do to try and get this back?


  18. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Claire, I think you need to wait until you hear back from DVLA as it may be resolved without you having to do anything else. If you are not happy with the response from DVLA try taking it up with the motor dealer who took your car in part-exchange. They will have a record of who they sold your old car to and you could then approach the new keeper direct about getting your private plate back.

  19. Debbie

    My son bought a car 6 months ago with private plates on. It had no tax so taxed it with the green slip to give the previous owner chance to retain his plates. 5 months on I was worried about having to tax it again and sent off for the v5 which has now come in my sons name. The previous owner is now contacting my son with nasty emails saying he will send some people round to ‘sort’ us out and get the plates back. We have explained that he had 5 months to go to the DVLA to retain them and we need to relax at the end of the month but he doesn’t seem to understand.
    Could you confirm that it was his responsibility to sort the plates out and not ours? I am wondering if I need to speak to the police as he is being so threatening.
    Thanks Deb

  20. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Deb, What was the agreement regarding the private plate when your son bought the car?

  21. Kevin Lee

    I have a car with private plate , my son also has a private plate on his car, my son is buying my car, and i am buying a new one . What is the quickest and cheapest way of doing this , I am unsure of my new cars delivery date for assigning so will probably retain.
    any help appreciated

  22. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Kevin, You can apply to transfer the private plate from your son’s car to your existing car (£80 fee) and at the same time retain your private plate (£105 fee). You need to complete two V317 forms, one for the transfer, one for the retention application. When the paperwork arrives from DVLA you can then hand the retention document for your private plate to the dealer supplying your new car.

  23. Rabinder Gill

    Hi , I have a plate on retention under my name, but I wish to put it on my sons car which is registered under his name. What do I need to do.

  24. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Rabinder, Complete sections 1 & 2 of the V778 retention document remembering to sign in sections 1 & 6. Send the V778, the V5C logbook for your son’s car plus a cheque payable to ‘DVLA Swansea’ for £25 to; DVLA, Swansea SA99 1DS. You may wish to read; assigning a personalised number to a vehicle.

  25. usman abdullah

    my mot is expired in next 5 days and i wanted to retention number plates for new car do i need to have mot or if i apply very next day i dont need a mot and are they must call peoples for inspect the car for retemtion thanks

  26. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Abdullah, Generally if the tax or MOT only recently expired, DVLA will process your application to transfer or retain your registration without any problems. Based on what you have said I don’t think it will be necessary to re-MOT your car.

  27. Stephen

    My daughters car has personalised plate, it’s blown up and due to be scrapped she really wants to keep her plates. The car has no mot and tax now as we were hoping to have it fixed but the work isn’t cost effective. From what I have gathered she can’t retain her plate now is that correct?

  28. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Stephen, DVLA may process the retention application if the MOT and tax expired less than 12 months ago. It’s certainly worth submitting the application; you will not be charged the £105 fee if your daughter’s car does not meet the criteria.

  29. Paul welsh

    Hi James I have 2 number plates on retention documents these are owned by me but in my father in laws name as we used to share a car I now wish to change the grantees name to mine as he is getting on and don’t drive anymore but not shore how to go about this any help would be great thanks paul

  30. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Paul, As the rules stand you can’t change the Grantee unless the person named as Grantee on the retention document dies.

  31. Magda

    I’m purchasing a brand new car 1st March & the MOT has recently ran out, car still taxed at present. Obviously I don’t see the point in payibg for another MOT when things could be found wrong with it causing me unnecessary cost so am I able to apply for plate to be put on retention once I have declared the car sorn? And how long does this process take? Thank you.

  32. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Magda, You can retain the plate on your existing car. The current rules say the tax/MOT must not have expired more than 12 months ago. If the MOT has only just run out and you haven’t yet made the SORN you shouldn’t have any problems. Allow two weeks for the retention application to be processed.

  33. Magda

    Hi there, thank you for your assistance. Can I just clarify something if I may? Are you saying I don’t need to declare my car as sorn to be able to apply to retain the plate? Will they accept an expired MOT certificate? I thought the rules were that it must be a valid in date MOT certificate? It expired 6th Jan. thank you again. ,

  34. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Magda, The rules differ depending on whether you are separating a personalised registration from a vehicle, or putting a personalised registration on to a vehicle. In your case you are applying to retain a registration; there is only one vehicle involved, sometimes referred to as the donor vehicle. It doesn’t matter if the donor vehicle has an expired MOT providing it expired no more than 12 months ago, the same rule applies to the road tax. So to clarify; you can apply to retain your registration as your MOT only expired expired two weeks ago. If you are no longer using your car on public roads you can make a SORN declaration which will automatically trigger a refund of any full months of road tax remaining. Just to clarify a SORN declaration is different to an MOT test.

  35. Jason

    Hi, I recently bought a new car from a dealer and my previous car has a personailsed registration on it that I want to transfer to the new car. I’ve sent the £80 with v317 off with my new cars MoT certificate and V5C with my details filled in the new keepers parts with section 8 signed by myself, I’ve also sent with it my old vehicles V5C and a duplicate MoT certificate from the same garage I got it MoT’d at. Would a duplicate MoT cause problems with the transfer process? I ask because the original MoT certificate is with my old car at the dealers as I used it as part exchange on the basis they wont sell it until I receive the new V5 and they fill in their part and I send it off. Many thanks if you can help!

  36. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Jason, There’s nothing to worry about, the MOT certificate (VT 20) will soon be made obsolete. All MOT records are now held digitally, so even if you didn’t enclose the actual MOT certificate the transfer would still be processed without any problems. You can check the status of both vehicles using the vehicle enquiry service.

  37. Wayne

    Recently filled in a V317 to retain a personalised plate due to selling my car. Enclosed form, payment, V5 and MOT.
    Just received the V5 today only 9 days after sending which is great, but I was expecting a replacement MOT cert and some sort of retention certificate. Do they get sent separately? or has something been missed. Unsure whether to call DVLA or wait a few days to see if anything else turns up.
    Any advice appreciated.

  38. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Wayne, Nothing to be concerned about, the V5C is usually the first item to come back followed shortly after by the retention document and the MOT certificate which all come separately. You should have everything by Wednesday next week.

  39. tom

    Hi can anyone help me! Selling my car ASAP and need to get my plate off it. Cant for the life of me find my MOT certificate! Only had the plate since september and if i type it in online it shows up with the MOT expiriy date etc. Will I be okay to send off the form, V5 and fee without the MOT certificate?

  40. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Tom, There are lots of changes (relating to private plates) coming into force on Monday 9th March 2015. The retention fee is being reduced from £105 to £80, plus you no longer have to submit a paper MOT certificate with any applications to DVLA. The electronic record will be updated and can be checked using the vehicle enquiry service, but you won’t receive a replacement VT20 MOT certificate. So to answer your question, just send the V317 application form, V5C and payment of £80. Even if you send it to DVLA today it is unlikely to be processed before Monday next week.

  41. Chris Rickeard

    Have Number on Retention Cerficate due to expire 1st June 2015 do I have to renew to qualify for 10 Year duration ?
    Many Thanks
    Chris Rickeard

  42. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Chris, You have to extend the retention document when it’s due for renewal but there is no fee to pay. DVLA will issue a replacement V778 retention document valid for 10 years.

  43. Usman

    Hi James

    I recently bought a car from an auction. I filled in the V317 form to transfer the number plate to the new car. I filled in the details according to the log books as the car is not in my name yet. I’ve just called the DVLA office and theyve told me the application was rejected but cant give me any more information. I filled in my details in the existing car section and the details of the previous owner as in the new car details as the log book is still in his name. Would this be a reason why the application was rejected?


  44. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Usman, Did you complete the new keeper section of the V5C registration certificate (logbook) for the car you bought at auction? Effectively the car you bought no longer belongs to the previous owner. If you entered the previous owner’s name and address on the right-hand side of the V317 that is enough for DVLA to reject the application. Wait until you have the rejected application back from DVLA and give me a call.

  45. Ian Carr

    Hi James, about 10 days ago I sent a postal application V317 and the V5C and the fee to DVLA, to retain the reg for my wife’s car before she disposes of it. We received the replacement V5C yesterday in the post, but no V778 retention document. Should we expect to receive these together or do they get sent back separately? If we should have received it with the V5C, can you advise a number we can contact DVLA on, as struggling to find one? Many thanks.

  46. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Ian, The retention document is sent out separately and usually arrives within 48 hours of the V5C.

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