If you are thinking of changing your car, or even doing without one for a while, you might wish to retain a personalised number plate that was in use on the vehicle. You may also want to buy one or a series of number plates for investment purposes, without actually putting them onto a car, motorcycle or van. If you need to know how to retain a number plate, the following guide should be helpful.
Why might you retain a number plate?
If you place a number plate on retention, it will remain yours to assign, or sell on, in the future. A retention document protects your right to that registration. It lasts for 10 years, and can also be renewed.
When retaining a private plate, the vehicle will be assigned a replacement number – usually the one it would have been registered with in the first place. Most number plates can be retained for later use or to assign to another vehicle in the near future – unless they begin with “NIQ” or “Q”. Neither of these types of plate can be retained.
The alternative is to give up the right to a private plate if you don’t wish to use it, but in reality this would not be a wise course of action, as personalised registrations can be very valuable.
How to retain a number plate
There are certain conditions that apply to number plate retention, and these depend on the vehicle itself. To be eligible, the vehicle has to be registered with the DVLA. It must be able to move by means of its own power, and be the kind of car, van or motorcycle that normally has to pass an MOT. If it’s a heavy goods vehicle (HGV), it must also have passed an HGV test. It should either have a continuous Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) in place for five years, or should be currently taxed. If a SORN has been in place for over five years, the vehicle has to be taxed when you apply for the retention. In some cases, the DVLA may wish to inspect vehicles, so it must be available if this happens.
You can apply for the retention either by post or online. If it isn’t your vehicle, then only postal applications are permitted, and the new log book would be sent to the owner in due course.
How to retain a number plate online
You can apply between 7:00am and 7:00pm each day via the DVLA website. You will need the V5C, or log book, when you apply. You also have to pay the DVLA transfer fee when applying; this is currently £80 but may be subject to change.
If your vehicle doesn’t need an inspection, the number plate will be removed right away. Therefore you must be prepared before taking this step, as the car or van cannot be driven with this number plate once it has been removed by the DVLA.
How long does it take to retain a number plate?
Your number plate may be removed instantly if you apply online. If you make a postal application, the number plate will be removed within two weeks of its receipt. You will be sent a V778 retention document, your MOT certificate and a new V5C. The latter may take up to six weeks to arrive.
The V778 retains your rights to that number plate for a decade, and you will receive a reminder before expiry. Your right must be renewed if you wish to continue with the retention. It is vital not to sell or otherwise dispose of your vehicle until you get the V778, as you could lose your right to that number plate.