If you have a personalised number plate and buy a new car, you may want to keep the personalised number and transfer it to your new vehicle. Alternatively, perhaps you own a personalised number plate and want to sell it, or you wish to purchase or keep a number plate without assigning it to a vehicle. In any of these cases, you need to apply for a retention certificate to show that you legally own the plate.
You can apply for the certificate online or by post from the DVLA. There is a one-off fee for this, and you can retain a number plate for up to 10 years. You can renew the certificate after this period on an ongoing basis for as long as you like.
If you’re transferring a plate from one vehicle to another, you will need the vehicle log book (form V5C) to show that you are the registered keeper of the car from which you want to remove the licence plate. You can also use the DVLA website to assign your number to another vehicle. You will have to complete a V317 form, which is used to apply for the retention of a number via a postal application. You also require the log book and MOT certificate, if applicable. If you are a new owner of the car and do not have the full log book, you will need to wait for a new V5C to come through in your name. The DVLA will check that the car is insured and taxed.
Whether you apply by post or online, you will receive either a retention document (form V778) or a replacement log book with the vehicle’s new registration.
It can take up to six weeks to receive a retention certificate. If you change your mind about retaining the number plate, you can apply for a refund of the retention certificate fee but you will lose entitlement to the number plate.
As long as you have the correct documents, obtaining a retention certificate is not difficult, especially if you apply online at the DVLA website.
What rights does a retention certificate give you?
You have the right to retain the number and not assign it to another car if you wish. This right expires after 10 years but can be renewed.
Should you wish to sell your personalised number plate, you will need to show the buyer that you have a retention certificate. After you have sold the number plate, the new owner will need the retention certificate number so that they can apply to the DVLA to transfer ownership of the number.
You can assign a number to a leased car with the cooperation of the lease company. You need to apply to the DVLA to have it removed at around two months before the lease ends. You can also assign your number to a car bought on a finance deal.
With a retention certificate, you can sell a number plate to an individual in a private transaction, or you can use a firm that will find a buyer for you and arrange the sale. They will charge a commission, which is typically around 30 per cent.
If you wish to find out more about retention certificates, you can visit the website of the DVLA. Making sure you understand the paperwork required to retain a personalised number plate will help you to avoid any unnecessary problems.