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 apply to remove a registration from a vehicle and hold it on a retention document (V778).

You can now retain a personalised number plate online.

Alternatively you can submit an application by post using form using DVLA form V317 – Application to Transfer or Retain a Vehicle Registration Number.


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 June 2015.

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

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. For more information about these changes, read: It now costs less to retain your personalised registration.

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 by post. Please allow enough time making sure you have replacement vehicle documents before you handover or part-exchange your car.

61 thoughts on “Retention of a Personalised Number Plate

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. James Saperia Post author

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

  4. Kevin Foulsham

    I have just renewed an expired retention document and although I understand that the retention of a document is now valid for 10 years the section ‘1’ states that I must assign the registration mark to a vehicle by 01 02 2016. ? So can you please tell me whether I will be able to again renew the retention of the registration mark after 01 02 2016. Or will the right to retain the registration mark completely if I do not assign the mark by the date shown in section ‘1’ of DVLA form V778.?
    Kind regards
    Kevin Foulsham

  5. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Kevin, The new rules were introduced on 9th March 2015. Your existing document is not valid for 10 years and will need renewing 28 days before 1/2/2016 (free of charge). Your next retention document will be valid for 10 years with an expiry date of 1/2/2026.

  6. John

    Hi, just tried applying online to retain my number plate and I just keep getting sent through to a page saying:
    This registration number cannot be retained online

    Transaction Id YSV806150801172500

    You are unable to continue with this application online.

    We need to look into your application further due to the vehicle’s licensing history.

    Any idea what this means?


  7. James Saperia Post author

    Hi John, At some stage in the vehicle’s past it has been untaxed for a period of time (according to DVLA records). Before your retention application can be processed the vehicle record needs to be looked at further by someone at DVLA. You will have to submit your retention application by post as detailed in the article above.

  8. steve saxton

    if i retain my personalised registration and sell my vehicle is the vehicle issued with its orignal reg or does it get anew one ,

  9. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Steve, It is highly likely your vehicle will be reunited with its original registration. Please ensure you retain your personalised registration before notifying DVLA of the change of keeper. If you retain your plate online you should have a replacement V5C (log book) within a few days.

  10. James Saperia Post author

    Hi Dani, If you retain your number plate online you don’t have to send any documents to DVLA. If you apply by post you should enclose the V5C with your application.

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