How to Retain a Private Number Plate

Mercedes Benz private number plate

Sometimes, we just don’t want to say goodbye to a cherished number plate. Unless of course someone wants to buy it for a few million quid.

Whether you’re waiting a few months to receive a new vehicle or want to hold onto an investment for the future, retaining a number plate is fairly straightforward.

In this article, we will walk you through the entire retention process. This includes a breakdown of the relevant forms and processes you will need to follow so you can hold on tight to your cherished number plate.

If retaining your number plate isn’t what you’re after, then check out our guide to Transferring Number Plates from One Car to Another.

When Can I Not Retain My Plate?

Most number plates are eligible for retention. The remaining few that can’t are registrations that start with Q or NIQ, or have “non-transferrable” printed on their V5 registration documents.

What Are the Requirements for Number Plate Retention?

For the DVLA to confirm your retention application, the vehicle you are retaining your plate from must:

  • Be registered with the DVLA in the UK and you must also be the registered keeper of the vehicle
  • Have a V5C document showing you currently own the registration
  • Be available for inspection by the DVLA *
  • Be roadworthy
  • Have either an MOT or Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) test certificate (e.g. car, van, lorry, etc)
  • Have been taxed or had a SORN in place for the last 5 years without any gaps

*DVLA will contact you first if this is necessary.

How to Put a Private Number Plate on Retention

The DVLA offer this service as part of their number plate retention scheme which you can apply for either by post or online. Doing it online is recommended as it is quicker and easier.


To complete the retention process online, you will need to do the following:

  1. Have your V5C - also known as your “logbook” – ready at hand.
  2. Visit the DVLA’s Take a private number off a vehicle page and click on the “Take off a number online” button.
  3. Fill out the following details:
    1. Registration number you want to take off
    2. Latest V5C registration certificate (logbook) document reference number
    3. Keeper postcode
    4. Are you the registered keeper?
  4. Pay the £80 DVLA transfer fee
  5. Done! Now you need to wait for your V778 retention document and updated V5C logbook.

Please note that your registration number will be removed from your vehicle immediately after completing the online application (unless the DVLA needs to inspect your vehicle).

By Post

To retain your number plate by post, you will need to download and complete a V317 form.

To fill out the form, you will need to do the following:

  1. On the top of page 1, check the box next to Option B that says you wish to retain a registration number.
  2. Now go onto page 2 and fill out the required info on section 1:
    1. Details of the vehicle you are taking the registration number off (make, model, registration, VIN/chassis no) *
    2. Contact information
  3. Section 2 lists out the required items you will need to retain your number plate. So, make sure you tick the correct boxes and have these items ready to send alongside your V317 form:
    1. Your V5C vehicle registration document
    2. Retention fee of £80
  4. Fill out section 3 with your contact details in case any problems arise with your application.
  5. Optional: If you’re changing ownership of the registration number, fill out section 4.1 with the new owner’s details.
  6. Optional: Fill out section 4.2 if a dealer is acting as your nominee and you want them to receive correspondence and documentation on your behalf.
  7. Send the completed form and required items to the DVLA address detailed on the form.
  8. Sit back and wait for your V778 Retention Document and updated V5C logbook.

*If you’re struggling to find your vehicle’s details, your V5C registration document should hold what you’re looking for.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve retained your registration number, you must now take it off your vehicle and replace it with your new registration. You can find your replacement number in your updated V5C logbook that was delivered alongside your V778 Retention Document.

If you do not currently have plates printed, then take advantage of our in-house, industry-leading printers by using our plate printing service.

What is a V778 Retention Document?

A V778 Retention Document is the certificate that allows you to either:

  1. Keep a number plate for future use
  2. Take off a valued personalised number plate off one vehicle and transfer it to another

Whenever purchasing a private number plate, you must receive either a V750 certificate or V778 Retention Document to prove you have ownership over the registration.

How Long Will My V778 Retention Certificate Last?

Your retention certificate will allow you to retain your number plate for a maximum of 10 years. You can choose to renew the certificate following this 10-year period for as long as you want.

Keep Things Simple

If all this sounds a bit too confusing, or you’d just rather avoid the headache, then TopReg’s Transfer Management services is exactly what you need.

We can carry out the legal transfer and assign your new registration onto a retention certificate without you lifting a finger. All you need to do is order your new registration, select the retention service, and we’ll take care of the rest for you.

We will ensure that the relevant documentation is submitted to the DVLA, as well as make sure the entire process runs as smoothly and quickly as possible.