Personalised number plates are eligible to be put on retention if they are not currently in use on a vehicle. You can purchase a number plate as a standalone item from a private seller, a number plate dealer, or directly from the DVLA website.
The maximum number of years a number plate can be held on retention is 10, but it’s a relatively simple process to renew the retention certificate. Since 9th March 2015, renewals have been completely free, and the previous fee of £25 a year is no longer applicable.
Can you put your number plate on retention if your car is written off?
You can put your number plate on retention if your car is due to be scrapped, but it’s very important that you remove the number plate and fill in (and send off) an application form for retention before the car is written off, because once the vehicle has been officially scrapped with the number plate still assigned to it, the DVLA will not accept any application you make for the plate to then be placed on retention.
Should this happen, the registration of the number plate will return to DVLA ownership, even if you are still in possession of the physical plate itself. It’s possible you might be able to purchase the personalised registration number back from the DVLA but this may cost a considerable amount of money. The usual means of purchasing personalised number plates from the DVLA is via its auctions, some of which can be physically attended by the general public.
If you do manage to apply for the number plate to be held on retention prior to your car being scrapped, then the standard 10-year retention would apply, followed by a renewal if you wish to keep it on retention for a longer period of time.
How long does number plate retention last if your retention certificate expires?
From 18th December 2019, the DVLA is tightening up on deadlines for renewing retention certificates. From this point onwards, any number plates not assigned to a vehicle or officially held under a valid retention certificate will simply cease to exist in the records. These personalised registration numbers will not be able to be bought, sold, assigned to a vehicle or used in any other way. That means it’s important to remember to renew your retention certificate promptly if you wish to retain ownership of your personalised number plate.
Detailed information about number plate retention, as well as transfer, can be found on the DVLA’s website.