Keep your DVLA documents & reference numbers safe

If you are yet to use any of the DVLA online services, you may not be aware of the importance of keeping the reference numbers and codes displayed on your documents confidential. The specific risk we are highlighting in this article does not concern identity theft, but rather the possibility that a scammer could steal the rights to your personalised registration without you knowing.

DVLA image keep documents safe


Taking a private number plate off a vehicle is a fairly straightforward process and it became even easier when the DVLA online retain facility was introduced in 2015. Other vehicle related tasks can also be completed online such as; tax a vehicle, make a SORN and notify DVLA of a change of keeper. One of the disadvantages of some online facilities is the increased risk of fraud if sensitive or confidential information falls into the wrong hands. This risk applies to some DVLA online services and unfortunately there have been instances where unsuspecting motorists have fallen victim to fraudsters.

Rather than detailing the exact methods used to commit fraud, we are going to indicate which codes to keep safe and show you exactly where they appear on the following DVLA documents.

V5C Registration Certificate (logbook)

The V5C is issued by DVLA to the registered keeper of a vehicle. As the document states, it is not proof of ownership. It shows who is responsible for registering and taxing the vehicle. The registered keeper is required by law to notify DVLA if the vehicle is sold, transferred or dismantled (scrapped).

The important part to conceal is the ‘document reference number’, an 11 digit code printed in five different sections of the V5C.

It appears on the front cover:

V5C front cover


The inside front cover:

V5C inside front cover


And the sections labelled V5C/2, V5C/3 and V5C/4:

V5C inside back cover


V750 Certificate of Entitlement

The V750 is issued by DVLA to the purchaser of a brand new (never previously issued) personalised registration. The purchaser has the right to assign and subsequently display the personalised registration on a vehicle subject to the rules of the scheme.

V750 Certificate of Entitlement


The important part to keep confidential is the ‘certificate number’, a series of letters and numbers which can contain 19 characters not including spaces. The certificate number is prominently displayed in bold in the upper half of the document. However, many people are unaware that the certificate number also appears in the bottom right-hand section of the document.

V778 Retention Document

The V778 is issued by DVLA to the Grantee when a personalised registration is intentionally removed from a vehicle (retained). The Grantee can choose to put the registration on a vehicle in the future, typically a new car if they have sold their old car. The Grantee may choose to sell the rights to the personalised registration, in which case they may assign the registration to the buyer’s car on receipt of full payment.

V778 Retention Document


The important part to conceal is called the ‘document reference number’, a similar series of letters and numbers as detailed above for the V750. There have been several versions of the V778 in recent years and on some examples the section identifying the reference has been left blank. The Retention and Sale of Registration Marks Regulations 2015 specifically calls the code a ‘unique identification reference’, a term which may be used by DVLA in the future. As with the V750, the reference number is printed twice on the document but it is in the bottom left-hand section on the V778.

Important points to remember

Before using DVLA online services ensure the address shown on your documents is correct and up to date. Often the transaction will result in DVLA issuing a replacement document or an acknowledgement by post which will be sent to the address on record.

You must apply to take your private number plate off a vehicle BEFORE you sell it if you wish to use it in the future (either to sell or to put on a different car).

You should not share any document references or certificate numbers until you have sold your car or personalised registration and you are satisfied full payment in cleared funds is received.

This blog post is for information purposes only. GOV.UK is the best place to find the latest DVLA information and advice. If you have any questions about DVLA documents and online services please contact DVLA.