V778 Number Plate Retention Certificate Explained

Last updated May 26th, 2023

If your private registration number isn’t attached to a vehicle and you don’t have the correct documentation, you might lose the right to use that private number plate. Thankfully, there is a way to ensure this does not happen.

In this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about the V778 number plate retention certificate. We’ll cover a series of key topics around the V778, including why you might need one, how to apply for one, what the document looks like – and how it can be used to transfer a private number plate to another vehicle.

Value your car in under 30 seconds

What is a DVLA retention certificate for a number plate?

The V778 retention document is a green certificate which allows you to retain your number plate, even if it isn’t attached to a vehicle.

Why do I need a V778 form?

If you want to a keep a personalised number plate but it isn’t currently attached to a vehicle, then you need to renew your V778 before it expires – otherwise you could lose the right to use that registration number.

You must renew your right to use a private number plate every 10 years if it is not being used on a vehicle. (If you received your private number plate before 2015, you must renew it more often – check your V778 document for more information.)

How to apply for a V778 number plate certificate

You can apply for a V778 online, by visiting the DVLA’s retention page. You need a debit or credit card to apply - and you can assign the registration number to another vehicle as soon as you’ve applied to take it off.

How long does it take for a retention certificate to arrive?

It can take up to six weeks for your V778 certificate to arrive.

How much does a retention certificate cost?

The fee for retaining a personalised number plate is £80.

Retention certificate sections explained

  • Grantee: This is the person with the right to use the registration number.

  • Registration number: This is the private registration number that is being retained.

  • Nominee: If there is a name in the ‘nominee’ section, this allows the registration number to be transferred to a car in their name. This section might also say ‘not applicable’.

  • Expiry date: The certificate features an expiry date - and the registration number must be transferred to a vehicle before this date, or the registration will be lost (unless the certificate is extended during the 28 days prior to the expiry date).

How long does a V778 last?

V778 documents last for 10 years - and if your registration is on retention, you must renew the certificate within 28 days of the expiry date.

What happens if my retention certificate runs out?

If you don’t renew your retention certificate within the required window, you will not be able to renew it and you will lose the registration number.

What happens if I didn’t get a number plate retention certificate?

If you did not receive your V778 certificate, you can apply for a replacement V778, which can take between three and four weeks to arrive.

Can I get new number plates made with a retention certificate?

Before a registered number plate supplier produces a set of plates for you, they will request proof that you are entitled to use the requested registration number, in addition to proof of your name and address.

A number plate retention certificate (V778) shows that you are legally entitled to display a specific registration and authorises the supplier to produce the plates on your behalf.

Transferring a number plate

When it comes to transferring number plates, the correct process to follow depends on whether you want to transfer from one vehicle to another, from a V778/V750 to a vehicle – or from a vehicle to a V778.

Please see our guide ‘How to transfer a number plate’ for a full explanation of all types of number plate transfer.

Can I get a copy of my retention certificate?

You can apply to the DVLA for a replacement if you have lost your V778 (or if it has been stolen). It can take around 3-4 weeks for your replacement V778 to arrive.

What’s the difference between a V750 and V778 form?

A V778 is used when a registration number has previously been assigned to a vehicle (but isn’t anymore). A V750 is for new registrations (i.e. when a number has never been used on a vehicle before).

Can I sell my car without a V778?

If you want to sell your car together with its private registration number, you do not need a V778 document. After the sale is complete, ownership of the car and the private registration will be transferred to the buyer.

However, if you are selling a car with a private number plate and wish to retain the private plate, you have the following options:

Please note: If you want to keep your private registration, you will need to take it off your car before selling it. Otherwise, you will lose the right to use it at the point of sale.

How do I transfer a V778 to a new owner?

If you have a V778, you are entitled to sell (or give) the associated registration number to another person. However, the DVLA advises against sharing scans or photographs of your V778, as someone other than the intended recipient could use it to put the private number on another vehicle.

If you are selling (or gifting) a registration to someone, you should use the V778 document to assign the registration to their car. This can be done online (via the DVLA website) or by post.

The DVLA will then send a replacement V5C logbook to the registered keeper of the vehicle, containing their new private registration number.