Keep Your DVLA Documents & Reference Numbers Safe


With the DVLA’s online services, it’s now really important that you keep the reference numbers and codes displayed on your documents confidential. 

That’s because, with these codes, a scammer could steal the rights to your personalised registration without you knowing.

Removing a private number plate from a vehicle has always been a fairly straightforward process, however, it became even easier when the DVLA’s online retention facility was introduced in 2015, along with other vehicle related tasks such as; taxing a vehicle, declaring a SORN and notifying DVLA of a change of keeper.

Although these online facilities are great, and generally make life easier for all of us (no more sending documents to Swansea and waiting weeks for them to come back), the disadvantages of some of these online facilities is the increased risk of fraud if sensitive or confidential information gets into the wrong hands and unfortunately there have been instances where unsuspecting motorists have fallen victim to fraudsters.

Rather than going through the exact methods the fraudsters use, we’re going to indicate which details to keep safe and show you exactly where they appear on the following DVLA documents.

V5C Registration Certificate (logbook)

The V5C is issued by DVLA to the registered keeper of a vehicle. As the document states, it is not proof of ownership, but shows who is responsible for registering and taxing the vehicle. The registered keeper is required by law to notify DVLA if the vehicle is sold, transferred or dismantled (scrapped).

The important part to conceal on this document is the ‘document reference number’, an 11 digit code printed in five sections of the V5C.

It appears on the front cover:


The inside front cover:


And the sections labelled V5C/2, V5C/3 and V5C/4:


V750 Certificate of Entitlement

The V750 is a document issued by DVLA to the purchaser of a brand new (never previously issued) personalised registration. The purchaser has the right to assign and subsequently display the personalised registration on a vehicle subject to the rules of the scheme.

The important part to keep confidential on this document is the ‘certificate number’, a series of letters and numbers which can contain 19 characters not including spaces.

The certificate number is prominently displayed in bold in the upper half of the document. However, what many people don’t realise is that the certificate number also appears in the bottom right-hand section of the document (shown below).


V778 Retention Document

The V778 is issued by DVLA to the Grantee when a personalised registration is intentionally removed from a vehicle (retained). The Grantee can choose to put the registration on a vehicle in the future, typically a new car if they have sold their old car. The Grantee may choose to sell the rights to the personalised registration, in which case they may assign the registration to the buyer’s car on receipt of full payment.

The important part to conceal on this document is the ‘document reference number’, a similar series of letters and numbers as detailed above for the V750.

There have been several versions of the V778 in recent years and on some examples the section identifying the reference has been left blank. The Retention and Sale of Registration Marks Regulations 2015 specifically calls the code a ‘unique identification reference’, a term which may be used by DVLA in the future.

As with the V750, the reference number is printed twice on the document but it is in the bottom left-hand section on the V778.


Important points to remember

You should not share any document references or certificate numbers until you have sold your car or personalised registration and you are satisfied that full payment in cleared funds has been received.

Before using DVLA online services ensure the address shown on your documents is correct and up to date as often the DVLA will issue a replacement document or an acknowledgement by post which will be sent to the address on record.

Also, you must apply to take your private number plate off a vehicle before you sell the vehicle if you wish to use it in the future (either to sell or to put on a different car). 

This blog post is for information purposes only. The website is the place to find the latest DVLA information and advice. If you have any questions about DVLA documents and online services please contact DVLA. The images in this post were kindly shared with us by James Saperia, owner of Simply Registrations, as he is as passionate as us about protecting consumers and combating fraud.

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