A number plate on retention is one that has been taken off a vehicle. To remove the licence plate legally, you need to fill in a V317 form, which can be downloaded from the DVLA website. This form must be completed by the registered vehicle owner to confirm that you have the right to own the number plate.
There are a few documents you will need for this process. You will require the V5C registration document (also known as the logbook) and a valid MOT certificate.
There's a one-off fee for this process too, and once you’ve paid it, you will receive a retention document (V778 form) that confirms the plate has been separated from the vehicle, and that it was previously attached to a vehicle. This retention document is valid for 10 years, and can be renewed after this if you wish.
How much is the number plate worth and where do I sell it?
The Certificate of Retention means that you are legally able to sell the licence plate. You can sell your number plate privately and ask any amount for it, but to make it easier to sell, it’s advisable to keep your asking price realistic. You can get valuations from a plate trading site, but you may be charged a small fee for this.
You can sell to an individual or through a number plate dealer. If selling via a dealer, you should use one that is a member of the Cherished Numbers Dealers Association, which makes sure its dealers conduct their business ethically. It may be easier to find a buyer through a dealer, but bear in mind they will need to make a commission – usually somewhere around 30 per cent.
Selling privately gives you control over the price and you can communicate directly with the buyer. You could sell your number plate on eBay, which charges around 10 per cent commission when the plate is sold. There are also online sites that specialise in number plates where, for a fee, you can place an advert for your plate. Apart from the initial fee, you may not have to pay commission on the sale.
How do I complete the sale?
After you have found a buyer, you need to complete the sale. You may want to send a photo of the retention document to assure the buyer that you are the genuine owner of the plate, but make sure that the document number is concealed as this number could be used to fraudulently transfer the plate to someone else.
After you have received payment, you need to transfer the plate registration. The easiest way to do this is to give the buyer the retention document number so that they can go to the DVLA website and assign the registration to their vehicle. Once they have done this, they have the rights to the licence plate. You can also do this by post, signing and dating sections one and six of the retention document and posting it to the buyer. It's recommended that this is sent through a trackable postal system. The buyer can then assign ownership of the plate to themselves.
If you have the physical number plate, there’s no need to send it to the buyer as they can easily have a number plate made. Remember though that once you’ve sold it, it is illegal to attach it to any vehicle that uses public highways so you must destroy these.