How to Retain Private Plates

A private plate is a personalised registration for your vehicle’s number plate. They can only be used on registered vehicles (or vehicles about to be registered), taxed and used in the UK. In this article, we hope to cover all angles on how to retain private plates.  

In 2020, there was £3 billion worth of personalised plates in the UK, showing the vast popularity of custom plates as a cool and unique upgrade to your car. In fact, in the UK alone, there are over 45 million private number plates, equating to more than two for every three people in the country.

But you can’t simply buy a private plate, attach it to your vehicle and forget about it. There are laws we have to abide by.

  • If you drive with incorrectly displayed number pates, you could be fined up to £1,000 and your vehicle will fail its MOT test.
  • If it is not being used on a vehicle, you must renew your right to use your private plate every 10 years. If you bought your private plate before 2015, you must renew it more frequently.
  • If you do not renew your right to use your private number in time by the expiry date, you will permanently lose your right to use it.

Check your V750 or V778 document to figure out what is required of you if you wish to retain a private plate.

What Is the Difference Between a V750 and a V778 Retention Document?

Private Plate on a Lease Car

A V750 Certificate of Entitlement is an A4 pink document authorized by DVLA to verify who is the owner of a private or personalised number plate. It is for newly issued registrations and for private plates which have never been used on a vehicle before.

A V778 Retention Document is a green A4 document used when a personalised registration has been separated from a vehicle and placed on retention. It is awarded to the registered keeper of that vehicle.

Below, we will explain exactly what a DVLA V778 Retention Document is.

How to Retain Private Plate Registration

Let’s say you want to keep your private plate, perhaps because you are waiting to transfer it to a new car. Or, you want to remove a registration number because you have bought a brand new private plate. You might even be selling the registration number plate to someone else, or keeping the private plate without assigning it to a vehicle.

In any of these circumstances, you MUST apply to retain your private plate safely, so that you don’t run into any legal trouble.

To do this, you have to send off an application to retain your private plate. After the application process is complete, you will receive a DVLA V778 Retention Document. It can take up to six weeks for the document to arrive.

Following your application’s approval, you can retain your private plate for 10 years.

How to Apply for a V778 Retention Document

You can apply for a V778 Retention Document online or by post. If the vehicle is not in your name, you have to apply by post.

To apply, you must fill out a V317 application form, which you can find here. You will also need your V5C logbook. If your current V5C is lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed, you can apply for a duplicate document online.

The application process costs £80. If you are applying online, you can pay by debit or credit card.

If you are applying by post, the £80 fee is payable by cheque to DVLA Personalised Registrations, Swansea, SA99 1DS.

Damaged cheques will result in your application being rejected and returned to you.

If the vehicle needs taxing, you will need your insurance certificate and any documents, forms and fees associated with taxing.

You will also need an 11-digit document reference number which is located on the front of the document.

To safely and legally retain your private plate, you must make sure your vehicle (where your private plate is being transferred) is:

  • Registered with the DVLA database in the UK.
  • Able to move under its own power.
  • Must be a testable type, subject to an MOT, HGV test or GVT (roadworthiness test).
  • Be taxed, or have a SORN issued without a break from tax expiry for the last 5 years.
  • Be available to be inspected if necessary. DVLA will contact you if they need to inspect your vehicle.
How to Retain Private Plate

Important Points to Know if You Wish to Retain a Private Plate:

  • A vehicle registered as a ‘Q’ vehicle cannot be given a private number plate
  • You cannot use a private number plate to suggest a vehicle is younger than its actual age. For example, if your car is a 2015 registration vehicle, you cannot use a **22*** registration number.
  • If your car’s registration number is ‘Non-Transferable’, your V5C Registration document (or log book) MUST state this.

Who Else Should I Inform if I Get a New Registration Number on My Vehicle?

  • You are responsible for informing your insurance provider of your new registration number. If you do not, your insurance may be invalid, and you may also receive a fine.
  • When you have a new registration number, don’t forget to update this on any road charging accounts operated by Highways England, Transport for London or Clean Air Zones. Failure to update these accounts may incur a penalty charge notice.
  • If your vehicle is accredited by the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation scheme, you will need to update your registration number there.

What if I Want to Retain a Private Plate, but My Vehicle Needs Taxing?

  • Have all your vehicle tax documents to hand.
  • Complete a V10 ‘application for vehicle tax’ form.
  • Submit the fee for your vehicle tax.
  • Your vehicle must have a valid MOT test.
  • If you are the new keeper of the vehicle, you must tax or SORN the vehicle in your name, or your application to retain a private plate will be rejected.

What Happens After I Have Applied for a V778 Retention Document?

DVLA might want to inspect your vehicle, so they will contact you and inform you of the next steps.

Once your application is approved:

  • You will receive the V778 Retention Document.
  • Or, if the private plate is in someone else’s name, the V778 Retention Document will be sent to them, as they are the grantee.
  • You will receive a new V5C log book, proving the vehicle’s new registration number.
  • The vehicle will have its current vehicle registration number withdrawn unless you also apply to transfer or keep it when you make this application.

Will I Need My V778 Retention Document if I Want to Sell My Personalised Number Plate?

Yes, if you are selling your private plate to someone else, you will need to show the customer that you have a V778 Retention Document.

After the customer has bought your private plate, they will need your retention document number, as they will have to apply to DVLA to take on ownership of that number.

How Can I Assign My Private Plate to Another Vehicle?

You will have to complete a V317 form. You will need your vehicle log book (your V5C form), which proves that you are the registered keeper of the vehicle that you wish to remove the private plate.

What if I Have Been Left a Personalised Number Plate in the Will of Someone Who Has Died?

If someone has died and left you a private plate in their will, or you are the executor of the will, you can:

  • Keep the private plate
  • Transfer it to another vehicle
  • Put it in someone else’s name
  • Give up the right to use the private plate by applying for a refund

Ensure you have the right to use the private plate by sending the right documents to DVLA. You will have to send the death certificate (the original or certified copy) and at least one of the following:

  • A certified copy of the probate
  • A copy of the will
  • A letter from the solicitor confirming who the executors or next of kin are

If the private plate is already assigned to a vehicle, you will need to fill in a V317 form and include the details of the person you want to transfer the number plate too. This costs £80.

If the private plate has not been assigned to a vehicle, send DVLA a V778 Retention Document or the V750 certificate of entitlement form. The executors must sign the V778 or V750 before you send it to DVLA. If you want to keep the number or give the number to someone else, you must also send a covering letter from the executors.

If you have been left a personalised number plate in a will and you want to give up your right to use that private number, you may be entitled to a refund of £80, if:

  • A private number was not assigned to a vehicle after the fee was paid
  • you have the latest V778 or V750 document – if you’ve lost it and it’s still valid, you can get a replacement from DVLA.

Make sure you get all the executors to sign the V778 or V750 document and tick the ‘refund of the assignment fee’ section. Send this to DVLA, along with the documents that prove that you have the right to use that registration number.

What if I Change My Mind About and I No Longer Want to Retain My Private Plate?

You can apply for a refund of the V778 Retention Document. However, you will lose your right to retain that private plate.

To find out more about Bespoke Plates, which is the UK’s top number plate maker specialising in 3D, 4D and standard number plates, visit our website here.

Visit our blog here to find the answers to frequently asked questions about custom number plates, including short number plates, 3D number plates and 4D number plates.

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