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.

71 thoughts on “Retention of a Personalised Number Plate



  2. James Saperia Post author

    I’m not sure exactly why you sent your documents to DVLA. If it was to retain your personalised number plate then hopefully you sent the application to your Local DVLA Office. Generally you would receive your replacement tax disc and MOT certificate in roughly seven days, followed by the new V5C log-book a few days later.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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?



  6. 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.

  7. 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??

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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?


  12. 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.

  13. John

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. 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 !

  18. 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.

  19. 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?


  20. 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.

  21. 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

  22. James Saperia Post author

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

  23. 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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *