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 plates.

There are two options available when removing a registration from a vehicle; you can either transfer a registration to another vehicle, or you can retain it.

Applying to retain a personalised registration number is a fairly straightforward process. It is simply a case of making sure you have the required vehicle documents and correctly completing DVLA form V317 – Application to Transfer or Retain a Vehicle Registration Number.


Changes have been made to the retention scheme since this article was written in 2010. The information you are reading is regularly updated and reflects changes as recent as March 2015.

Documents required to retain a private number plate:

The V5C Registration Certificate – often referred to as a log book

DVLA form V317 signed by the registered keeper of the vehicle

£80 fee (cheque, bankers draft or postal order payable to DVLA Swansea)

Where should you apply?

You should send your application to:

Personalised Registrations
SA99 1DS

DVLA is making it possible to retain a registration via a new online service due to launch at the end of March 2015. Further information will be provided as it is made available by DVLA.

From Monday 9th March 2015 all V778 retention documents issued by DVLA will be valid for 10 years with no fee payable to renew or extend the document.

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 up to four weeks for DVLA to process a retention application. Please allow enough time making sure you have replacement vehicle documents before you handover or part-exchange your car.

47 thoughts on “Retention of a Personalised Number Plate

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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. ,

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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?

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

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