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Keeping your personalised plate

Written By Andrew Brady

Number plate personalised
  • How to retain a private plate
  • Where to get a personalised number plate
  • Can you sell personalised car number plates?

You can make your car stand out with a pair of private or personalised number plates. If you’re one of the millions who’s bought one of these, you’ll probably need to switch it to another car at some point. But don’t worry, keeping or transferring a private plate is simple.

Can you keep private car number plates?

If you’ve bought a private number plate it should have come with a V750 certificate of entitlement. This means the number plate is yours and you can either take it off a vehicle you’re selling and keep it for later, or switch it to another vehicle.

The vehicle the personalised plate is going onto must fulfil certain conditions. You can’t use a private number to make your vehicle look newer than it is and you can’t put a personalised number on a Q-registered vehicle.

The car the private number plate is coming off must be registered in the UK, be able to move under its own steam, have been taxed or have a SORN in place continuously for the last five years, and be taxed currently. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) may want to inspect your vehicle so it must be available for them to do so.

How to retain private car number plates

You simply apply online or by post using a DVLA V317 ‘transfer or retain a vehicle registration number’ form.

If you’re keeping (retaining) the number plate, you’ll get a V778. This document is all you need for private plate retention.

How to transfer a private plate

If you’re transferring the plate to a new vehicle you fill out the V317 and send it off. This should be accompanied by a log book (V5C) or green ‘new keeper’ slip with a completed V62 ‘application for a vehicle registration certificate V5C’ from the vehicle the number plate is coming off and the one the number plate is going onto.

The fee is around £80. If you need to have new number plates made up, you must pay for this too.

When you apply to do this, the original registration number will be reassigned to the car the private plate is coming off. If you’re selling a car, you should put its old number plates back on it.

It’s important to always tell your insurance company when you change vehicle number plates.

What if you don’t have a car to put the plate on?

That’s no problem. It still costs around £80, but rather than applying to assign the plate to a new car, you simply say you want to keep it. This is when you get the V778 retention document.

You’re entitled to keep a plate for 10 years without using it. Once that time’s up, you fill out the V317 form again and apply to keep it again. You don’t have to pay a fee after the first 10 years.

Can you sell personalised car number plates?

They’re yours to do with what you’d like. You can either sell the number plate privately or to a dealer.

If you sell one yourself, you simply assign the plate to its new owner when you fill out the V317 form. Using a dealer is simpler. They will do all the form filling for you and arrange the payment.

Whichever route you choose, the DVLA warns you not to share a photograph or scan of your V750 or V778 forms to potential buyers. They might use these to put the private number on another vehicle.

Can I transfer my number plate to a lease car?

It’s easiest to wait for delivery of your lease car. You then arrange for the lease company to be named nominee on the V750 certificate of entitlement. Your lease company may charge a small admin fee for this.

Make sure you keep the original number plates as these will be reassigned to the car at the end of the lease term.

To retain your private plate when your lease is up, start the process two months before the end of your contract. This is to allow plenty of time for a replacement V5C logbook showing the vehicle’s new number plate to arrive.

Can I transfer my number plate to a financed car?

Unlike with a lease car, you’ll be the registered keeper if the car is on a PCP so you apply directly to the DVLA. If you don’t intend to keep the car at the end of the term, start the process to retain your number plate two months before the end of the contract.

How to get a personalised number plate

It is possible to get pretty much any number plate you want providing you’re happy to pay the price. The days when you had to be very rich or royalty to own a private plate are long gone. You can now pick up most plates for a few hundred pounds.

The three main ways to get a personalised registration plate are from DVLA auctions, a number plate dealer or a private seller.

Since 1989, the DVLA has been holding auctions to sell off number plates. Doing this has raised billions of pounds for the UK government. To buy at one of these auctions, you can bid in person, by phone, in writing or online. Once you’ve paid for a plate you’ll get a V750 certificate of entitlement. This gives you the right to put it on a vehicle.

If you buy a number plate from a dealer, they will probably do the transfer to your vehicle for you. If you want to do this yourself, or you buy a plate from a private seller, you will need the V750 certificate of entitlement or the V778 retention document.xx

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