Cherished Number Plate Transfers – Educating the Motor Trade

I am currently sorting a cherished number plate transfer for my brother who is in the process of buying a newer car. The task is straightforward enough; to transfer his personalised registration from his current car to the car he is buying. It is a task I perform on a regular basis, but sometimes I come up against main dealer administration departments who tell me it can not be done.

I have decided to detail the process just in case any other motorists are faced with the same situation and feel they must bow down to the superior knowledge of the main dealer. Just to say; I appreciate that car dealerships specialise in selling cars, but I would like to think that handling a cherished number plate transfer correctly on behalf of a client is part of the service.

Yesterday I received a telephone call from my brother Dan, advising he has found the car he has been searching for; a two-year-old BMW M3 Monte Carlo. Dan asked if I could sort the transfer of his ‘DAN’ private number plate from his current car to his new car. He had just got back from Sidcup in Kent having made the journey to view the car and had signed on the dotted line to secure his new toy.

BMW M3 Monte Carlo

A cherished transfer involves transferring a registration directly from one vehicle to another for a fee of £80 payable to the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). A form called a V317 Application to transfer or retain a vehicle registration number is filled out and submitted to DVLA in Swansea, along with both sets of vehicle documents.

I already have the vehicle documents for Dan’s current car, but needed to get hold of the V5C Registration Certificate (logbook) for his new car. Dan made a call to his contact at the dealership who told him they are not allowed to release the V5C. This is fairly standard practice as the dealership is required by law to notify the DVLA of the new keeper details.

I rang the dealership and explained that I was handling the transfer of Dan’s private number plate and wanted to submit the transfer application to the DVLA. The change of keeper notification can be processed at the same time. Usually this is acceptable to most main dealers and they send the documents direct to Simply Registrations at our registered address.

Speeding up Cherished Number Plate Transfers

Just to explain the reason behind the request; if the main dealer had sent the change of keeper notification to DVLA, Dan would have to wait a couple of weeks or so to get his hands on the new V5C logbook. He is eager to get the registration transfer completed as quickly as possible for two reasons; first, he wants to sell his current car (which needs a replacement registration) and second, he wants to get his private number plate displayed on his new car as soon as he can.

Unfortunately the dealership refused to release the V5C. The reason given was that the V5C shows the name and address of the customer (who part-exchanged the BMW M3 for a Range Rover) and it was sensitive information. This is a bit silly really as a V5C states the name and address of the previous registered keeper anyway. To resolve the situation the dealership suggested we send them the completed transfer application which they would submit to the DVLA on our behalf.

Taxing Situation

The completed application was sent by special delivery to the dealership as requested. Dan then received a call to say the transfer could not be lodged as the car he is buying needed to be taxed first. Again I spoke to the dealership and explained what actually happens when you apply to tax a vehicle whilst transferring a cherished number plate at the same time. Here is the procedure:

The DVLA issue a tax disc showing the current vehicle registration mark, i.e. LL59 JWX. The car is then legally licensed to be driven on the road. When the cherished transfer is processed a replacement tax disc is issued with the same expiry date. This new tax disc (showing the cherished number) should be displayed on the car when the new number plates are fitted.

Personal Service

The lady at the dealership explained she would personally go to the DVLA Local Office* (rather than sending a driver) to ensure that everything went to plan. I asked her to call me if there were any difficulties to which she happily agreed. All being well Dan will be collecting his new car from the dealership in the next couple of days.

*All DVLA Local Offices permanently closed in the autumn of 2013. Personalised registration applications should be sent to DVLA, Swansea SA99 1DS.

I wonder how many other motorists have faced the same situation as Dan and simply accepted what they were being told? Okay, it is not a disaster to have to wait a few extra weeks to get your cherished number on your new car and to have to wait to sell your old car, but it should not have to happen.

Understanding DVLA Procedures

So what is the point I am trying to make here? It is that employees should be correctly educated on how associated processes, such as cherished number plate transfers, should be handled. I am sure as a main agent for Land Rover, this particular dealership must receive lots of cherished transfer requests on behalf of their customers. Surely at least one person within an administration department should have a thorough understanding of DVLA systems and procedures?

Considering that many DVLA Local Office employees will be out of work soon if the plan to close the DVLA regional network goes ahead, many car dealerships would be wise to take on a new member of staff with inside knowledge of DVLA applications. If you get it wrong when submitting paperwork to DVLA Swansea, you may have to wait days, possibly weeks, just to learn that your application has been rejected. That could be very costly for a car retailer if vehicles are sat in showrooms waiting for the correct documentation to be received before they can indeed be sold.

PLEASE NOTE: Since this article was written DVLA has introduced several online services making the process of transferring a registration much quicker & easier.

Cherished Number Plate Transfers

Transferring a cherished number plate is a fairly straightforward task; although it hasn’t always been that way. When the business of buying and selling car registrations was in its infancy back in the 1970’s, things were very different.

The Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) was still unsure what part it wanted to play in the selling and transferring of vehicle registrations and systems were still to be properly established. At one stage during 1976 the DVLA suspended transfers of all registrations following industrial action by members of two civil service unions.

Protests by the founding members of the Cherished Numbers Dealers Association (CNDA) helped to bring the strikes to an end and a new set of rules was introduced by the DVLA to govern the transfer of car registrations. The price of a cherished transfer was hiked from £5.40 to a staggering £50, which was a lot of money back in 1976. Retention certificates were abolished and vehicles had to be registered to a keeper for nine months before an application could be submitted for a number plate transfer.

DVLA Seansea HQThe DVLA is now one of the most active players in the sale of personalised registrations. The idea of the Agency going on strike and banning transfers seems ludicrous, especially considering over £1billion in additional revenue has been generated for HM Treasury via the sales and transfers of personalised vehicle registrations.

So next time you begrudge paying the DVLA £80 to transfer your car registration from one vehicle to another, consider what the owners of cherished number plates before you had to endure. The system is far from perfect, but at least you don’t have to chain yourself up to the railings outside DVLA headquarters in Swansea to get your personalised registration transferred.