How to Retain a Number Plate

By CarMoney May 17, 2021
How to Retain a Number Plate

How to keep my plate?

To keep a private registration plate that’s on a car you want to get rid of, you need to apply to keep the number plate. You can do this online on the Government’s website, or apply through the post by completing and sending the following to the DVLA:

  1. V317 – this will let you transfer your registration number to another car.
  2. V5C (aka your vehicle log book) – this will prove you own the car you want to remove your private registration from.
  3. If you’ve only just bought your car and don’t have a V5C, you will need to instead send your V5C/2 “new keeper” slip and a filled-out V62 form.
  4. An £80 transfer fee (you will also need to pay this if you do it online)

Once the private number plate is transferred, your car will automatically be reassigned to its original registration number. However, you will need to put the original plates back on the car before you drive it on the public road again, and it’s best to reattach the plates too if you’re going to sell the car.

Can I keep a non-personalised plate?

If you’re attached to your number plate, even if it isn’t personalised, you can hold on to it. You can apply to keep your number plate online or by post. To apply online, go to GOV’s personalised vehicle registration service.

You can also apply by post. If you do, you’ll need a V317 form (transfer or keep a vehicle registration number) and the car’s logbook (V5C). 

V5C Document |
V317 Form |

Once they’ve approved the application, they’ll send you a new logbook. This will have the new registration. You’ll get a V778 ‘retention document’ if the plate is in your name. It’ll again cost you £80 to take the number plate off a car. 

What is a Retention Document?

This document proves that you own that plate and can use it in the next 10 years. This means you can now add it to another car or transfer it to someone else. 

Can I keep a number plate without a new car?

Yes, you can still keep your private plate, even if you don’t want to use it on a different car. Just like transferring a personalised plate, you can do this by completing and posting a V317 document to the DVLA – though this time you need to fill out the section that simply takes the number plate off the car, rather than assigning it to another one.

Can I put a personalised plate on a car I’m leasing/financing?


Yes, you can arrange to have your personalised number plate fitted to your lease car, though you will need to liaise with the company you’re arranging the lease with. It’s also a lot easier to transfer your plate to your lease car after it’s arrived, and we advise you consider arranging to transfer it off again around two months before your lease expires. 


It’s a lot more straightforward to transfer your private number plate onto a car you own through finance – unlike a lease car, you’re the vehicle’s registered keeper, so you can do this yourself online or by sending the previously mentioned documents to the DVLA. 

However, if you’ve arranged PCP finance and have decided you won’t make the final payment to own the car outright, you should arrange to have your private plate transferred off the car around two months before your finance agreement ends.

Are there any laws for transferring a number plate?

Yes, there are laws when transferring number plates. Specifically, a registration number can only be transferred to a vehicle, provided the vehicle:

  1. is not made to appear younger
  2. does not have a registration starting with ‘Q’ (‘NIQ’ for Northern Ireland registered vehicles)
  3. is registered at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
  4. is available for inspection
  5. is of a type that needs an MOT or heavy goods vehicle (HGV) test certificate
  6. has current road tax

Can I put my private plate on right away?

No. Most personalised number plates can be supplied on a certificate. If you are buying a number plate and you want it transferred onto your vehicle straight away, then you will need to provide the documents above.

If the DVLA accepts your application, then you will get a retention document which means you may then change the plates on your car.

How long does it take for the DVLA to transfer a plate?

The DVLA will assign the old car with a replacement registration and aim to send you a new registration document (V5C) within two weeks. Sometimes it takes a little longer or can be faster. 

How much will it cost me?

The law changed in 2015, now it only costs £80 to which will apply to both paper and online transactions. This change sees the removal of the £25 fee to renew the retention of a vehicle registration number on an annual basis.

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