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Can I Retain My Number Plate Online?

What is a personalised number plate?

A personalised number plate is one which you have purchased, and for which you own the exclusive right of use. Your proof of ownership is the certificate which is issued by the DVLA.

A V750 certificate is for a number plate you intend to assign to a new car and use right away, and a V778 retention document is for one you intend to keep for later use.

How to apply to retain your number plate

Everything you need to know is set out clearly on the DVLA website under the section covering number plates.

As long as you have your V5C available when you make the application, you can retain the plate for a charge of £80.

Where can I buy personalised registrations?

You can buy number plates from a number of vendors, including specialist dealers. The DVLA also offers a large selection of new numbers that are available for immediate purchase online. 

In addition, the DVLA holds auctions every two or three months. You can view the upcoming number plates on offer on the organisation’s website and this is also where you'll find the details of the dates, times and locations of the auctions. Actually attending the auction to bid in person is a really popular way of securing the exact number plate you want, but you can also make an online bid, or bid in writing.

If you buy your plate through a private dealer, you'll need to make sure you get your V750 certificate if you're intending to use the number plate on your current car.

Are there any restrictions on personalised number plates?

Yes, there are some restrictions. You can't make a car look newer than it is by assigning a number plate with a 'younger' number, such as having a '19' number on a car that was actually registered in 2009

You also can't go for a number plate that starts with ‘Q’ or ‘NIQ’ as these letters are used for very old classic cars whose manufacture and registration history isn't always readily available.

How should my number plate look?

Since 2001, all standard number plates consist of two letters showing the area where your vehicle was manufactured, followed by two numbers indicating the date of issue, followed by three randomly selected letters.

You should make sure any number plate you display is made from reflective material, with the black characters clearly shown on a white background for the front of your vehicle, and on a yellow background for the rear.

You can't have any kind of pattern of the background, as this would interfere with the clarity of the number plate. There are specific rules about the size and spacing of letters too. This is all set out in a DVLA leaflet INF104, which is available to download on the DVLA website. If you use a number plate that doesn’t meet these regulations, you could be fined.


Other related FAQs

Looking for more related content to this? We’ve picked a selection of related topics that you may find helpful

To take a private number plate off retention, you need documents including the V778 retention document, the V5 registration document for the receiving vehicle and an MOT certificate if your vehicle requires one.

Current DVLA guidelines state that a number plate can stay on retention for a maximum of 10 years before needing to be renewed. The retention fee is £80, but renewals are free and don’t take long to process.

If you want to sell a private number plate or reserve it for future use, you can do so via the DVLA. As long as certain conditions are met, you can pay to obtain a V778 retention document.

A retention certificate for a number plate is an official DVLA form confirming that you are the legal owner of that plate. It allows you to keep or purchase a number plate without assigning it to a vehicle.

Number plate retention lasts for 10 years or until you use the plate on a vehicle, whichever comes first. After 10 years, you must renew your retention certificate if you still have no vehicle to assign your number plate to.

If you want to keep or purchase a number plate without assigning it to a vehicle, you can put it on retention. By doing this, you’re essentially retaining the registration to use at a later date of your choosing.