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 retain it. In this article we are going to focus on the latter of the two; this is often referred to as the DVLA Retention Scheme.

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.


There have been a few changes made to the Retention Scheme since this article was originally written in 2010. The information you are reading is regularly updated and reflects changes as recent as January 2015.

Documents required to retain a private number plate:

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

The MOT Test Certificate – only applies to vehicles over three years old

The DVLA form V317 signed by the registered keeper of the vehicle

The appropriate fee – it currently costs £105 to retain a registration number

Where should you apply?

You should send your application to:

Personalised Registrations
SA99 1DS

If the reason you are applying to retain your registration is 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, so allow plenty of time for your replacement vehicle documents to be issued by DVLA Swansea.

About James Saperia

Successfully helping British motorists acquire their ideal personalised number plates for over fifteen years, James Saperia is the Managing Director and founder of Simply Registrations. The company is situated between Leeds and Wakefield and serves motorists all over the United Kingdom. Have a quick look at some of the cherished registrations available for sale, there could be one that is perfect for you. Follow James on Twitter and Google+.

41 comments to Retention of a Personalised Number Plate

  • Magda

    Thank you for your help James

  • James Saperia

    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.

  • 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. ,

  • James Saperia

    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.

  • 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.

  • James Saperia

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

  • 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

  • James Saperia

    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.

  • 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?

  • James Saperia

    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.

  • 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

  • James Saperia

    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.

  • 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.

  • James Saperia

    You’re most welcome, thank you for the positive feedback.

  • Mick

    Top advice, clear and no jargon, excellent thank you.

  • James Saperia

    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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