How to transfer or retain a private registration plate

If you’re selling or scrapping your car and you’d like to keep the number plate registration mark that’s on your vehicle, you have two options; either transferring your registration to another vehicle – or retaining your private plate to put on a car in the future.

In this blog post, we’ve put together a series of detailed guides that explain exactly how to move your number plate to another vehicle, including; how to begin the process of transferring registration plates from car to car online, and how the DVLA private plate retention system works – both online, and through the post.

Along the way, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions relating to transferring private registration number plates, including:

  • Is there a specific DVLA retention form?
  • Can I transfer a number plate online?
  • How much does it cost to transfer a personalised number plate?
  • How long does the private number plate retention process take?

We’ve also provided some helpful links and telephone numbers that will help you with the process.

Why would you retain or transfer a number plate?

There are many reasons someone might want to keep the registration number that’s currently on a car. In a lot of cases, people are looking to keep a private number plate that they’ve bought – although it’s not uncommon for someone to transfer a standard registration mark they have become attached to.

Whatever your motivation, you can either transfer the number plate to another car or save your registration mark to be assigned to another vehicle further down the line. If you’re planning on scrapping the car that the registration mark currently relates to, it’s vital that either process is complete before the car is signed over to the trader or dismantler who’s going to take your car away.

We’ll guide you through the options you’ve got available to you.

Option A: Transferring a number plate to another vehicle

This section will take you through some of the most important questions relating to the transfer of a registration mark to another suitable vehicle.

How do you transfer a private number plate?

There are two ways how to transfer a private plate to another car; either through the post or online. We’ll take you through each method here:

Transferring a registration number to another vehicle online

The simplest way to transfer a registration number to another vehicle is to do it online. We’ve broken the online number plate transfer process down into 2 simple steps – as well as detailing everything you’ll need before you start the process and a few additional notes that might apply to you.

What you’ll need before you begin

To transfer a vehicle registration from one car to another online, you’ll need the 11-digit reference number from the vehicle’s V5C document.

You’ll also need to make sure that the following official conditions are met:

  • You must be the registered keeper of the vehicle that the number plate is being removed from
  • The vehicles must be taxed or have a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) in place
  • Both vehicles must move under their own power
  • The vehicles must be available for inspection if requested
  • Both vehicles must be a type that needs either an MOT or HGV test certificate
  • The registration must not make the vehicle it is being transferred to look younger than it actually is

Virtually all car-to-car registration transfers are simple and tick these boxes – although if you’re not sure, you can call the DVLA on 0300 790 6802 and ask their advice about your specific situation.

Step 1:

You should begin the application to transfer your number plate by removing your registration mark from the vehicle it is currently allocated to. You can do this through the DVLA’s online service to take a private registration of a vehicle. This is an instant service, so your number plate will be immediately removed if you do this.

The process is straight-forward and simply requires you to supply the registration number you want to take off, the latest V5C reference number, and the keeper’s postcode (as it appears on the V5C). When you have completed the service, you’ll be given a certificate number that confirms the process is complete.

This part of the number plate swap service costs £80, and you can pay online with most credit and debit cards. The DVLA registration removal service is available between 7am and 7pm every day.

Step 2:

To put your now removed registration mark on to another car, you will need to visit the DVLA’s online service to put a private registration number on a vehicle. Again, this is a simple process that the online service takes you through step by step. 

When this process is complete, your private registration will be immediately applied to the new vehicle.

Additional notes

You cannot use the online plate transfer service if you’re assigning your registration mark to an unregistered car. If this is the case, you will need to complete an ‘Application for a first vehicle tax and registration of a new motor vehicle’ – known as a V55. You cannot download a V55 because it includes features that cannot be printed – but you can request one through the post. This process will need to be completed before you can transfer your registration number.

Transferring a registration number to another vehicle through the post

If you don’t want to use the DVLA personalised registration transfer system online; you can perform the same process through the post. We’ve broken the postal number plate transfer system down into 4 simple steps – as well as detailing everything you’ll need before you start the process, as well as a few additional notes that might apply to you.

What you’ll need before you begin

To transfer a vehicle registration from one car to another through the post, you’ll need:

Like the online process, you’ll also need to make sure that the following official conditions are met:

  • V5C Log Book registration documents for each vehicle
  • Valid MOT certificates for both vehicles if they are over 3 years old
  • A cheque, bankers draft or postal order for £80 and made payable to; DVLA Swansea
  •  

The vast majority of car-to-car registration transfers are simple and tick these boxes – although if you’re not sure, you can call the DVLA number plate transfer contact number - 0300 790 6802, and discuss your specific circumstances.

Step 1:

Download a DVLA V317 form using this link. If you can’t print the form, you can request that a copy is sent to you using the DVLA’s free form order service.

Step 2:

Read the V317 guidance notes and complete the green coloured section of the form entitled ‘Option A’. You’ll need to know the registration number, make, model and VIN/chassis number of both vehicles involved. If you’re not sure, you can get this information from the vehicle V5C documents.

You will also need to complete some contact details. The DVLA will only use these if there is a problem or they need to contact you about the application.

Step 3:

Gather your supporting documents and place them in an envelope with the V317 form. You’ll need to make sure you include everything mentioned in Option A/Sections 2 & 5 of the V317 form, including; both V5C documents and the cheque, bankers draft or postal order for the £80 fee.

Step 4:

Send your completed application and supporting documents to:

DVLA Personalised Registrations
Swansea
SA99 1DS

Additional notes

If the registration plate is being transferred to an unregistered car, you will need to complete an ‘Application for a first vehicle tax and registration of a new motor vehicle’ for – known as a V55. You cannot download a V55 because it includes features that cannot be printed – but you can request one through the post. This should then be included in your supporting documents.

If you are the new keeper of the vehicle that you are putting the registration mark on and you do not have the full new V5C, you will need complete an ‘Application for a vehicle registration certificate’ – known as a V62. You can download a V62 form here – or request one through the post. This should then be included in your supporting documents, along with the new keeper’s section of the previous V5C.

If you are based in Northern Ireland, you will also need to include your insurance certificate if your vehicle is being taxed as part of the application.

Frequently asked number plate transfer questions

Whether transferring your registration number online or through the post, it’s normal to have questions. We’ve covered some of the most common ones here:

How long does it take to transfer a private plate?

The time it takes to transfer a registration number depends on how you apply. If you use the online service, the changes take place immediately – but if you use the postal service, the changes will take between 4-6 weeks; depending on whether or not you’ve had to include a V62 form with your application.

When should you start the DVLA private reg transfer process?

If you’re transferring a personalised registration from a car that you’re planning to either sell or scrap, you will need to make sure the registration transfer process is completed before ownership of the car is passed to someone else. 

If you don’t, the registration mark becomes that person or company’s property when they take ownership of the car – and getting it back can be difficult or impossible.

What do the DVLA mean when they say a number plate can’t make a car look younger?

You may have noticed the DVLA comment that a registration cannot be moved to a car if it will make it look younger than it actually is – but that often causes confusion.

The registration allocated to your vehicle indicates the age of the car. So, a car that has the new style number plate ‘AB16 CAR’ is registered as new in 2016. You would not be able to transfer a registration to this car that indicated it was registered in any later than its original number plate suggests – for instance; you would not be able to transfer the number plate ‘AB17 CAR’ to that vehicle. 

This guide from the DVLA explains in more detail about how registration numbers are constructed – but if you’re in any doubt about the age of your car, you can check on your V5C document.

Can I put my private number plate on a lease car?

It is possible to put a private number plate on a lease car – although many people assume it isn’t. The easiest way to transfer a personal registration onto a lease car is to wait until it’s been delivered; then, you should get in contact with the lease company and arrange to name them as a ‘nominee’. They’ll then be able to advise you further on their process of transferring your plate onto the leased vehicle. 

If you’ve got a private plate on a lease car, you should make sure you remove it before your lease ends. It’s advisable to give yourself 6-8 weeks to ensure the process is complete, as some companies may charge you if they need to do additional admin after the lease is up.

Can I put a private number plate on a car that is financed?

When you enter into a car finance agreement, you become the registered keeper of that car – legally responsible for everything relating to it. This means you can put a personalised number plate on the car – and makes the registration mark transfer process identical to a car that you own outright. 

Option B: Putting a number plate on retention

This section will take you through answers to the most important questions relating to the DVLA personal number plate retention service and retaining your registration mark for future use.

How do you put a number plate on retention?

Similar to transferring a number plate to another car, there are 2 ways to retain a personalised registration mark; either through the DVLA number plate retention service online - or through the post. We’ll explain each method here:

Retaining a number plate online

The simplest way to put a number plate on retention is to do it online. We’ve explained exactly how to do it here – as well as giving details of everything you’ll need to get the process moving. 

What you’ll need before you begin

To retain a vehicle registration online, you’ll need the 11-digit reference number from the vehicle’s V5C document

Similar to the plate transfer process, you’ll also need to make sure that the following official conditions are met:

  • You must be, or be in the process of becoming, the registered keeper of the vehicle that the number plate is coming off
  • The vehicle must be taxed or have a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) in place
  • The vehicle must be able to move under its own power
  • The vehicle must be available for inspection if requested
  • The vehicle must be of a type that needs either an MOT or HGV test certificate

Most personalised number plate online retentions are simple and satisfy all of these conditions; however, if you’re not sure, you can clarify with the DVLA by calling 0300 790 6802.

Step 1:

To start your plate retention process, you should use the DVLA’s online service to take a private registration of a vehicle. This service is instant, so your registration mark will be removed immediately when complete.

The process is easily quickly and just requires you to supply the registration number you want to retain, the latest V5C reference number, and the keeper’s postcode (as it appears on the V5C). When complete, you’ll be given a certificate number that confirms the process is complete.

During the process, you’ll be able to specify a ‘grantee’ and ‘nominee’. The grantee is the person or company who the retention certificate will be issued to, thus giving them legal ownership of the registration mark. The optional nominee is someone who you can give the registration to by simply transferring it onto their vehicle.

The online retention process costs £80, and you can pay with most credit and debit cards. The online DVLA registration removal service is available between 7am and 7pm every day.

Step 2:

Your official DVLA V778 retention certificate will arrive through the post within 2 weeks – and the car that the plate has been transferred from will be issued with a new registration mark. At this stage, you can now safely sell or scrap that car, without any fear that you’ll lose your cherished number plate.

Retaining a number plate through the post

The process involved with retaining your personalised number plate through the post can be broken down into 5 easy-to-follow steps. We’ll explain what they are here, and what you’ll need before you start the process.

What you’ll need before you begin

To transfer a vehicle registration from one car to another, you’ll need:

  • V5C Log Book registration document for the vehicle that the plate is being removed from
  • A cheque, bankers draft or postal order for £80 and made payable to; DVLA Swansea

The same as retaining a plate online, you’ll also need to make sure that the following official conditions are met:

  • You must be, or be in the process of becoming, the registered keeper of the vehicle that the number plate is coming off
  • The vehicle must be taxed or have a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) in place
  • The vehicle must be able to move under its own power
  • The vehicle must be available for inspection if requested
  • The vehicle must be of a type that needs either an MOT or HGV test certificate

Most personalised number plate retentions are simple and satisfy all of these conditions; however, if you’re not sure, you can discuss your circumstances with the DVLA by calling 0300 790 6802.

Step 1:

Download a DVLA V317 form using this link. If you can’t print the form, you can request that a copy is sent to you using the DVLA’s free form order service.

Step 2:

Read the V317 guidance notes and complete the grey-coloured section of the form entitled ‘Option B’. You’ll be asked to complete the registration number, make, model and VIN/chassis number of the vehicle. If you’re not sure, you can get this information from the V5C document.

Step 3:

The V317 form allows you to choose ‘grantee’. This is the person or company to whom the retention certificate will be issued. If no details are completed in this section, the retention certificate will be automatically issued to the registered keeper of the vehicle that the number plate is being removed from.

There is also an optional section in which you can complete details of a ‘nominee’. A nominee doesn’t have any right to the registration number when it is stored on a retention certificate – but will take full legal ownership of the plate if it is put on a vehicle that belongs to them. This section is often used if a number plate is retained for a loved one or given as a gift.

You should complete the grantee and nominee sections according to your requirements.

Step 4:

You should now ensure your supporting documents are placed with the V317 form. You’ll need to include everything mentioned in Option B/Section 2 of the V317 form, including; the vehicle V5C document and the cheque, bankers draft or postal order for the £80 fee.

Step 5:

Send your completed application and supporting documents to:

DLVA Personalised Registrations
Swansea
SA99 1DS

Frequently asked number plate retention questions

Few people frequently retain personalised number plates – so it’s normal to have questions about the process. We’ve covered some common questions here:

How much does it cost to put my number plate on retention?

The £80 fee mentioned in the steps above covers the full retention process. If you’re applying for a retention through the post, you’ll be required to pay this with a cheque, bankers draft or postal order. If you’re paying online, you’ll be able to make this payment with a valid credit or debit card.

How do you take a plate off retention?

If you’d like to transfer a registration mark from a retention document to a vehicle, you have two options; either use the DVLA’s online service to put a private registration number on a vehicle – or use a V317 form – which you can download here or order to be delivered through the post here.

When this process is complete, your private registration will be immediately applied to the new vehicle.

How long can you retain a plate for?

A DVLA V778 retention certificate issued today allows you to hold a registration mark for 10 years. Don’t worry though - the document shows the date the registration number should be assigned by, so you can keep track easily.

If you retained your registration before 2015, your retention period might be shorter – but you can check the terms and conditions on your V778 document. If you’re unsure, we’d recommend speaking to the DVLA on 0300 790 6802.

Can you renew a private reg retention if required?

If you receive a reminder from the DVLA telling you that your retention document will soon run out – don’t worry, you can extend the retention period for another 10 years. Although the DVLA used to make a charge for this service - they don’t any more, meaning you can keep your number plate until you find a car that’s suitable.