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How to retain a private number plate (step-by-step)

If you are selling a car with a personalised registration plate, you may be wondering how you can retain your personalised registration, transfer a number plate to another vehicle or hold it for future use.

Follow our step-by-step guide to learn how to take a private plate off your car – and retain your personalised registration to transfer to another vehicle.

In this article, we’ll also cover some key number plate retention topics, including the requirements for retaining a private plate, how to keep your private registration if your vehicle is written off – and the circumstances in which your application to remove a reg plate may be denied.

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Can I keep my private number plate when I sell my car?

Yes, it is usually possible to sell your car whilst retaining your private number plate.

To retain your private number plate, you must apply to the DVLA to take the private plate off your vehicle. If successful, you will be sent a V778 retention document, which will give you the right to assign your private number plate to another vehicle within the next 10 years.

You will also receive a new V5C logbook, which will confirm your car’s amended registration. In most cases, when a private plate is taken off a vehicle, the original registration number will be reassigned to it.

Can I sell my car to webuyanycar with a private number plate?

Yes, you can sell your car with a private plate to webuyanycar, whether you wish to retain your private plate or not.

If you’re happy to sell it with the current personalised registration, the selling process is the same as with any vehicle without a private plate. See our ‘How it works’ guide for a full explanation.

What if I want to keep my private number plate?

Before you sell to us, you’ll need to take the private registration off your car. You can usually do this in a matter of minutes via the DVLA website.

Alternatively, you can apply to remove the registration by post, although this will take longer. The processes to follow for both options are explained in our step-by-step guide.

Once you’ve removed your private plate, you can sell your car to webuyanycar.

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What are the requirements for retaining a number plate?

To satisfy the requirements for number plate retention, all vehicles involved must:

  • Be registered with the DVLA.
  • Be capable of starting and moving under their own power.
  • Be the type of vehicle that requires an MOT or HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) certificate.
  • Be available for inspection by the DVLA, if requested.
  • Have been taxed or declared SORN continuously for the last five years. If the car has been declared SORN for over five years, you will need to tax it – and the DVLA may also request to inspect it before approving your retention request.

Enter your reg number into our Car Tax Check tool to verify your vehicle’s tax status.

What if my car is written off?

If your car has been written off and you wish to retain your private plate, you need to tell your insurer, otherwise you will lose the right to use the plate. After the insurer has paid out for your car, the registration number becomes their property.

Typically, after paying out for a ‘write off’, the insurer will scrap your car. Once your car has been scrapped, you will not be able to retrieve the right to use your personalised number plate.

How to retain your number plate (step-by-step)

If your V778 retention certificate is set to expire soon and you wish to renew it, this is the process to follow:

  • Fill in sections 5 and 6 on your V778 document.
  • Post the document to: DVLA Personalised Registrations, Swansea, SA99 1DS.

You do not need to enclose payment. If your application is successful, you should receive a replacement V778 document within 4-6 weeks, which will give you the right to retain your private number plate - or assign it to a vehicle you own for a further 10 years.

Illustration of a personalised registration plate

Retaining a number plate from a vehicle to a certificate

If you have a private registration on your car that you would like to remove and keep on a retention certificate, these are the steps to follow:


  • Locate your V5C logbook and check that your name is on the document.
  • Visit the ‘Take a private number off a vehicle’ page on the DVLA website.
  • Click the green ‘Take off a number online’ button on the page.
  • Type in the registration number you wish to remove from your vehicle.
  • Complete the relevant fields with your 11-digit V5C document reference number – and the registered keeper’s postcode (as shown in the logbook).
  • Click ‘Yes I am’ to confirm that you are the registered keeper.
  • Pay the £80 number plate retention fee to the DVLA.

Please note: If you need to change the nominee’s name, you will need to apply by post.

By post

  • Download and print a copy of Form V317 from the DVLA website.
  • Put an ‘X’ in the box for Option B.
  • Turn to page 2 and complete section 1 with your vehicle’s details. You can find all the information required in your V5C logbook.
  • In section 2, put an ‘X’ in all relevant boxes.
  • Complete section 3 with your name, address, postcode, and daytime phone number.
  • If ownership of the registration number will change, complete section 4.1. If a dealer is acting on your behalf and you would like correspondence and documentation to be sent to them, complete section 4.2.
  • Enclose a cheque, banker’s draft, or postal order for £80 (made payable to ‘DVLA, Swansea’), your V5C logbook – and completed Form V317 in a stamped envelope and post to the following address: DVLA Personalised Registrations, Swansea, SA99 1DS.
Illustration of a retention certificate

What happens after you’ve applied?

If your application is successful, you will receive a replacement V5C logbook (usually within two weeks). If the DVLA needs to inspect your vehicle, they will contact you to arrange this.

The ‘Vehicle details’ section in your new V5C logbook should show your car’s latest registration number. After a private plate is removed from a car, its original registration number is usually reassigned to it. A car’s original registration number often contains specific information about the vehicle, such as an ‘age identifier’ – and an area code, which denotes where it was first registered.

You will also receive a green V778 certificate, confirming that your vehicle’s previous registration has been placed on retention. This document may take 4-6 weeks to arrive.

You can use your V778 to transfer your private number plate to another vehicle you own – or, if you decide to buy a new or used car in the near future, you can transfer your private plate to that vehicle when you’re ready.

Can my application for a V778 retention certificate be denied?

Yes, the DVLA may reject your application for number plate retention if:

  • You submitted incorrect information on your application.
  • You failed to enclose your V5C logbook (if applying by post).
  • You did not pay the required £80 fee to the DVLA.
  • You are attempting to retain a private number plate that you have failed to renew or assign to a vehicle before the expiry date.
  • Your car has been written off and you failed to claim the number plate from your insurer before it was scrapped.

What happens if my number plate retention certificate expires?

If you fail to renew your number plate retention certificate (V778) before the expiration date, you will permanently lose the right to use the private plate – and the DVLA will not accept any subsequent number plate retention applications from you.

What documents do I need to retain my number plate?

To retain your number plate, you will need a copy of your vehicle’s V5C logbook:

  • If you intend to apply online, you will need the 11-digit document reference number, which can be found on the first page of the V5C logbook.
  • If you intend to apply by post, you will need to send the logbook itself with your application.
Illustration of a V5C documents

What if my V5C logbook is missing?

You cannot apply for number plate retention without a V5C logbook. If this document is missing, you can usually apply for a replacement copy via the DVLA website.

However, if you need to any change information in the logbook, you will need to print out and complete a V62 form, then send it to the DVLA by post. You can find a full explanation of the process to follow in our guide, ‘What is a V62 form?’

Whether you apply online or by post, you must pay a fee of £25 to the DVLA to receive your replacement logbook.

You will usually receive your replacement logbook within two weeks. If it hasn’t arrived after four weeks, you should contact the DVLA.

Can I sell my car while waiting for a number plate transfer?

No, not if you intend to keep the private plate. If you sell your car before completing a number plate transfer, ownership of both the car and the private plate will be transferred to the buyer.

Can I sell my car after removing my private plate?

Yes, you should be able to sell your car privately, to a dealer, or a car buying service with no issues after removing a private plate from the vehicle. Usually, the reg number your vehicle had before the private plate was added will be reassigned to it.

How do I take my private plate off when I sell my car?

If you wish to take your private number plate off your car, you must do so before selling it. Otherwise, ownership of the private plate will be automatically transferred to the new owner at the point of sale.

To avoid this, follow our step-by-step number plate retention guide before selling your car. If your application to the DVLA is successful, you will receive a new V5C logbook with your vehicle’s ‘new’ reg number (usually the registration it had before the personalised plate was added).

You will also receive a V778 retention document, which gives you the right to continue using your personalised number plate.

By following this method, you can sell your vehicle whilst keeping your personalised plate. For an explanation on how to transfer your retained number plate to a new vehicle, please see our guide ‘How to transfer a number plate’.

What else do I need to do?

Your V5C logbook can be used to transfer ownership to the new buyer.

To ensure the sale goes as smoothly as possible, you should also reattach the number plates with the original registration number if you have them, or, if not, order replacements.

Otherwise, the new owner will not be able to drive the vehicle until they have added plates bearing the correct registration.

Illustration of a car key

Can I pass my registration plate to somebody else?

If you have decided to gift or sell your personalised registration plate to somebody else, you will need to name this person on your V317 application form. To apply on their behalf, follow our step-by-step guide.

After the application has been processed, the new owner of the plate should receive a V778 retention document from the DVLA confirming their ownership.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

If you are the registered keeper of a car that was purchased on finance, you will need to apply to the DVLA to have your plate changed. If you have financed a car and don’t intend to keep the vehicle at the end of the agreement, you will need to arrange the removal of the number plate before it ends and put the original plates back on the car.

You should be able to put your private registration plate onto a leased car by contacting the lease company. You can do this after you’ve taken delivery of the car by contacting the company and naming them as a nominee.

When this has been processed, they will be able to transfer the plate to your leased car. There may be an admin fee involved and this should be outlined by the lease company.

If you are the owner of a personalised registration plate and you’ve changed address, you will need to update your details with the DVLA. You can do this online if you’re updating your V750 document.

If you are changing the address on your V778 document, you will need to do this by post by filling in the ‘Change of address’ section and sending it to: DVLA Personalised Registrations, Swansea SA99 1DS.Similarly, if you have changed your name since acquiring your private number plate, you will need to update the information on your documentation. To do this you’ll need to send proof of your name change, which could be your marriage certificate, divorce documentation, or a deed poll to prove you’ve legally changed your name.

A private registration plate can often be left to somebody in their will. When this is the case, you can keep the plate, transfer it to another vehicle, transfer it to somebody else - or give up the rights to the number plate.

In order to retain the registration plate, you must provide the DVLA with a copy of the death certificate and proof that you have been given ownership of the registration number. You can do this online or by post on the DVLA website.

A V750 and a V778 are both documents issued by the DVLA certifying that the named person has the right to use a specific registration number. However, they have differing applications:

  • A V750 document is used for newly-issued registrations that have yet to be assigned to a vehicle.
  • A V778 is issued when the registration has previously been assigned to (and used on) at least one vehicle.