If you have your own private number plate, you may want to know how you can retain this when it comes to the time to scrap or sell the vehicle it’s being used on. Perhaps you want to buy a personalised plate, but not actually assign it to your motorcycle, van or car straight away. Is there any way to keep that private registration for future use? This handy guide will tell you more about the process of putting a number plate on retention.
What does ‘number plate on retention’ mean?
If the car to which your private number plate is assigned is to be scrapped or sold, and you don’t wish to use your private plate with another vehicle right away, then you can apply for a V778 retention document. These are issued by the DVLA. Practically any personalised registration can be put on retention, unless it begins with either “NIQ” or “Q”. If you remove a plate to put it on retention, the vehicle concerned will typically be given the registration number it had originally.
The car, van or motorcycle must be eligible for the retention scheme, and the DVLA outlines the following rules:
Eligibility for retention
The car or other vehicle must be DVLA registered. It should be the kind of motorised tricycle, car, motorcycle, van, moped or Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) that would need an MOT or HGV test.
It should have the capacity to move under its own power and must either be taxed or SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) for five years running. If there has been a SORN in place for more than five years, the vehicle must be taxed when you apply for the retention. The DVLA may decide to inspect the vehicle, so it must be available for this if required. You will be contacted to arrange the inspection if this does apply.
How to put a number plate on retention
As long as your vehicle adheres to the above DVLA conditions, the private plate can be retained. It’s a pretty straightforward process, and can be completed online or by post. You can only apply by post if it isn’t your own vehicle. The DVLA does charge a fee, which is currently £80 but is subject to change. The log book (or V5C) will be required for the application.
You can apply via the DVLA website, and this service is available daily from 7:00am to 7:00pm. If an inspection is not required, the plate will be removed immediately from the vehicle and a reference number will be given to you. You might need this later if you want to reassign the private plate.
Apply by post
When applying by post, you must enclose the documents required by the DVLA. These include the completed V317 retention form and the V5C. If you’ve just bought the car, you can send the ‘new keeper’ slip along with a V62 form. The transfer fee must also be included. If an inspection is not needed, the private number should be removed within two weeks of your application.
If you must obtain vehicle tax, then you have to send a completed V10 tax application form and the MOT certificate plus the tax amount.
How long does a number plate stay on retention?
Your V778 retention document gives you the right to use or sell that private plate for 10 years. It has to be renewed before expiry or you will lose the right to it. You will also no longer have rights to that number plate if your vehicle is scrapped or sold before the V778 is issued.