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If you are planning to sell your car, or if you've bought a new private number plate, you may still want to keep your current registration as well. Fortunately, DVLA's Number Plate Retention Scheme allows you to store a registration while it isn't being used.

The application process to retain a number plate is simple and can be done online or by by post. If your application is approved, you'll receive a V778 (Retention Document). This document proves your ownership of the registration and allows you to transfer the private plate to a vehicle when you're ready to do so.

The vast majority of private number plates are eligible for retention but there are a few, rare, exceptions. The few that aren't transferable are those registration numbers beginning with Q or NIQ, or those whose V5C registration document bears the words 'non-transferable'.

NB: If the nominee (or grantee/original purchaser) specified on the V778 document does not match the registered keeper named on the V5C of the vehicle from which the registration is being taken, follow the instructions for 'Retain by post'.

Vehicle to Document

When you have a private registration on a vehicle and you would like to remove it and keep the registration on a retention certificate (V778 Retention Document).

The procedures are as follows:

Retain online

  1. Check that your name is on the V5C document.
  2. Visit the page Take a private number off a vehicle on the DVLA website.
  3. Click the green button labelled 'Take off a number online. '
  4. Type in the registration number you want to remove.
  5. Enter the registered keeper's postcode.
  6. Confirm that you are the registered keeper by selecting 'Yes I am '.
  7. Pay the DVLA transfer fee of £80.
  8. Await the arrival of your V778 retention document and your updated vehicle logbook with the replacement registration number.

After you apply

You will be issued a replacement V5C document showing the registration number that has been assigned to your vehicle in place of the one you've removed. You must display this replacement registration number before driving. Please note that the V778 can take 4-6 weeks to arrive.

Retain by post

  1. Download and print Form V317 from the DVLA website.
  2. Put an 'X' in the box of Option B.
  3. Complete section 1 on page 2 with the details of the vehicle. You can find these details on your V5C document
  4. Tick the most relevant statement that applies to the vehicle in Section 2.
  5. Fill out section 3 with the details of the person making the application.
  6. Complete section 4.1 of the form only if there is to be a change to the ownership of the registration number (the nominee name)
  7. Complete section 4.2 of the form only if a dealer is acting for you and you want them to receive correspondence and documentation on your behalf.
  8. Enclose a cheque of £80 payable to DVLA Swansea along with completed form V317 and the V5C (logbook) of your vehicle.
  9. Send everything to the address stated on the V317 document.

A successful application will result in new, updated V5C (logbook) being posted to you, usually within 2 weeks. Failures and delays usually only occur if there have been errors or omissions.

Requirements for retaining a number plate

To satisfy the rules governing the retention of a private registration, the vehicle from which the number is being transferred must:

  • be registered with DVLA in the UK
  • be able to move under its own power
  • be of a type that needs an MOT or heavy goods vehicle (HGV) test certificate
  • be available for inspection - DVLA will contact you if they need to inspect your vehicle
  • have been taxed or been covered by a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN) continuously for the past five years
  • have current road tax or be covered by a current SORN. If the vehicle has had a SORN in place for more than five years, it must be taxed and have a current MOT certificate

Note: If you have a historic (classic) vehicle you'll also need a current MOT certificate, even if your vehicle is usually exempt from MOTs.

A photo of DVLA document V778

Retention Document (Form V778)

The Retention Document (Form V778) is a green document also issued by the DVLA for a registration number that has been previously assigned to a vehicle. A V778 shows that the grantee is entitled to the number plate for 10 years.

Renewing a retention certificate

A retention certificate is valid for 10 years and can be renewed for a further 10 years.

An application to renew should be made during the last 28 days of the retention term but no earlier. Failure to renew your V778 retention document before it expires will result in the loss of your private registration as the DVLA will not accept late applications.

We encourage renewal of certificates and retention documents well in advance of the expiry date.

Renew by post

To renew your retention certificate:

  1. Fill in section 5 and section 6 on the V778.
  2. Send to the address stated on the document.

You will not have to enclose any payment to the DVLA, as the application is completely free. If your application is successful, it should take 4-6 weeks for your new retention certificate to arrive.

Related questions

Please see our page How to transfer a private number plate for a step-by-step guide to transferring your registration from its certificate onto a car.

It is not possible to change the name of the 'owner' of a retention document (the person who controls the right to display the number). Instead, this must be achieved by assigning the number to a vehicle and subsequently retaining it back onto a new certificate. At that point, ownership can be changed when specifying the details of who will be named on the new document.

See our page on transferring a number plate for more information.

Are you considering a private number plate?

Regtransfers is home to over 50 million personal number plates. Search and buy the perfect private plate with us. Once you've purchased your private registration, you're going to want to know how to transfer a private number plate. Otherwise, our fully managed transfer service will ensure that your new number plate is assigned to your vehicle with ease.

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The role of DVLA

Car registrations and number plates, including personalised number plates, in the UK, are the responsibility of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, usually known as the DVLA. It issues new registrations twice a year and also maintains the central database that records details of all vehicles licensed to drive on UK roads, along with their keeper and registration information.

Regtransfers works closely with DVLA to complete registration transfers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Regtransfers is a DVLA-registered supplier of personal car registrations and number plates and is listed on the DVLA Registrations website. All number plates supplied by Regtransfers comply with DVLA's prescribed standards and regulations.

DVLA administers all UK registration transfers and issues updated registration documents when the registration number of a car is changed, or when a registration is removed from a vehicle and placed on a retention document in accordance with the DVLA Retention Scheme.

DVLA is a registered trade mark of the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency. Regtransfers is not affiliated with the DVLA or DVLA Personalised Registrations. Regtransfers is a recognised reseller of unissued Government stock.

Number plate regulations

When a car is on the road, it is an offence to display number plates bearing any number other than the vehicle's officially recorded registration number. If you purchase a private registration, learn how to transfer private plates before displaying the new number.

All registration number plates displayed on UK vehicles must comply with the official number plate regulations. DVLA oversees enforcement of number plates display regulations and maintains a register of approved manufacturers and retailers of vehicle number plates.

Regtransfers is not part of, and is not formally affiliated with DVLA.

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