Retain number plates

How to take the registration number off a car and save it on a retention document/certificate

There are times when someone may want to take the registration number off their car. It may be because they want to sell that registration number or give it as a gift. It may be because they want to sell their car but still keep the number. Of course, there can be other reasons too.

Luckily, it is possible to save and store car registration numbers in the form of a DVLA Retention Document (also known as a retention certificate). Here’s how it works...

There are three main kinds of transfer:

  1. Make sure that the car from which the registration number is being removed is taxed or has been declared SORN. Your application to retain will fail if the vehicle isn’t taxed or SORN.
  2. Download the form V317 from the DVLA website.
  3. On page 1 of the form, check the box with an "X" to say that you want to take the number off a vehicle and keep it on a retention document.
  4. What Is A Car Registration Number - Application form
  5. Go to page 2 and complete part 7 of the form with your car details and a contact phone number (the car details may be found on your V5C registration certificate (sometimes known as the “log book”).
  6. Complete part 9 of the form only if there is to be a change to ownership of the registration number.
  7. Complete part 10 of the form only if a dealer is acting for you and you want them to receive correspondence and documentation on your behalf.
  8. What Is A Car Registration Number - Application form part 2
  9. Send the completed V317 form and other required items (as listed in section 8 of the V317) to DVLA at the address on the form. You must send:
    • a: The V317 form
    • b: Your V5C vehicle registration document
    • c: The retention fee.
  10. Await the arrival of your V778 retention document and your new, updated V5C. DVLA will issue a replacement registration for your vehicle and that number will be shown on the V5C. If the number you are retaining was a private number plate then DVLA will usually reissue the registration number with which your vehicle was originally registered.
  11. What Is A Car Registration Number - Application form part 3
  12. When you have received your documentation, remove the number plates showing the retained registration number (the number shown on your V778 Retention Document) from your car and fit new plates to display the number now shown on the new V5C registration document.
  13. As an alternative to the procedure outlined above, there is also an online retention facility at Just follow the instructions. To apply online to retain your number you will need:
    • The 11 digit document reference number from your V5C; A credit or debit card with which to pay the retention fee.
    • The following video summarises the procedure described on this page.

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