Number Plate Retention Online: A Step By Step Guide

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If you read our recent post about the DVLA dropping the fee for retaining a number plate, then you’ll remember that we also mentioned that you can also now retain a number plate online.

Our good friend Mike Oyston was fortunate enough to be one of the first to trial this new service and kindly documented his experience so that we could put this guide together.

So if you’re looking to retain your number plate online, we’ve got you covered. Read on and we’ll walk you through the process, step-by-step.

Before we begin, the process will differ depending on whether or the registration is already held on a retention certificate, or is currently on a vehicle, so select the option below that applies to you to be taken straight to the correct step-by-step guide.

My registration is already on retention

If your registration is already held on a retention certificate that is due to expire, then you'll be delighted to know that extending the retention certificate is now free rather than £25 a year.

The certificates are also now valid for 10 years, so you no longer have to re-apply every year to retain your number plate!

So if you're ready to retain your number plate online, follow the steps below to see exactly how to do it.


Step 1

As long as you’ve registered your email address with the DVLA, you’ll receive an email from them informing you that your entitlement is due to expire roughly a month before it does. You then just need to follow the link in the email as you can see below.


Step 2

Having followed the link, you should then be greeted with a screen that looks like this one, where you can log in to your online account if you have one, or create one if you don’t.


Step 3

Having successfully logged in to your online account, you’ll then see how many (if any) registrations you have where the entitlement is due to expire, and can also see how many registrations belong to you.

You’ll then be able to click the link to view your expiring registration(s) (or marks as they’re referred to here).


Step 4

Having followed the link, you’ll see the expiring registrations, which you can click on.


Step 5

Clicking on the registration, will bring you to this page with a number of options. As you can see they are now all FREE!

To retain the number plate for a longer period, we're going to select 'Extend Entitlement'.


Step 6

You'll then be asked to confirm that you will destroy all previously issued certificates and click 'Next'.


Step 7

The next screen confirms that the entitlement will be extended for 10 years. To continue we'll select 'Next' again.


Step 8

The next screen asks for your payment card details, even though the transaction is free. As it says though this is purely for validation purposes and you will not be charged, so enter your details and click the 'Pay Now' button (a bit confusing and we hope that the DVLA will revise this at some point).


Step 9

This screen confirms that your request has been received and is being processed, and also advises you to look out for the confirmation email.


Step 10

Next, a confirmation email will land in your inbox, and confirm that your request has been processed. At this point, you should destroy any previous retention certificates and await the new one arriving in the post.


Step 11

Going back into your account, you can see the registrations that you own and can see that the renewal has been made and the entitlement is now valid for 10 years.


My registration is currently on a vehicle

If your registration is currently on a vehicle and you need to take it off to retain it, then you'll be pleased to know that this now costs just £80 (which includes the assignment fee so it can then be put onto another vehicle at no extra charge).

You'll also be delighted to hear that retaining the plate is now free rather than £25 every year, and the certificates are now valid for 10 years, so you no longer have to re-apply every year to retain your number plate!

So if you're ready to take your plate off your vehicle and put it onto retention online, follow the steps below to see exactly how to do it.


Step 1

You'll need to visit this link between the hours of 8am and 6pm, Monday - Friday to apply to take your registration off your vehicle and retain it. 

Have a read through the requirements under the 'Before you start' tab, and when you're ready to get going, click the 'Start now' button.


Step 2

The next page is really simple to complete as long as you have your V5 certificate for your vehicle, so just fill in the details as required and click 'Next'.


Step 3

The next page will give you the details of the vehicle and the keepers address etc. The main purpose of this page is just to check that everything looks as it should, and if not, there is an 'Incorrect Details' link to update them.

If everything looks okay, we recommend selecting 'Yes' to the option of an email receipt of the transaction and then clicking 'Next'.


Step 4

This is the step that none of us look forward to, payment. As with any online payment, you just need to enter your name, card number, expiry date and security code and click 'Pay Now' to complete the payment and the retention process.


Step 5

Now that you've completed the process and paid for the transfer, you should receive an email like the one below, confirming that the transfer has been accepted. You will also receive details of the new registration number assigned to your vehicle (which will often be the one it had before you put your private plate on). You will also receive an electronic Number Plate Authorisation Certificate for the new reg. You will need this if you have to get new acrylic plates made up.

At this point, the transfer has taken place and you will need to take your personalised number plate off your car. The new vehicle registration certificate (V5C) showing the replacement registration number and the retention certificate for your private plate will be sent out to you by post. There will no longer be a replacement MOT certificate issued as the original will remain valid.


Wrapping up

That's it. As we're sure you'll agree, Oliver and the team at the DVLA have done a fantastic job of bringing the number plate retention process into the 21st century. Hats off to them again!

Now it's over to you. Has the guide helped you? Do you have a question about retaining your number plate that you need answering? We want to hear from you so leave a comment below!

As always, thanks for reading 🙂

April 26, 2015

11 thoughts on “Number Plate Retention Online: A Step By Step Guide

  1. Valentina Catini says:

    Fantastic tutorial!

    1. Plate-Trader says:

      Thanks Valentina!

  2. Esther says:

    Extremely helpful, step by step instruction are great, I can now do it live….. thank you so much

  3. NIcola says:

    Fantastic answered all my questions thanks x

  4. jean smith says:

    how long have i got to get the original number plates made up? after taking the cherished number plate off the car do I have to wait for the v5c to come back?

    1. Plate-Trader says:

      Hi Jean. You will be able to (and should) get the plates made up as soon as possible. You don’t need to wait for the MOT, the DVLA will issue you with an electronic number plate authorisation certificate (eV948) instantly which can be used to get plates made up. Hope this helps 🙂

  5. Kev says:

    Agree really useful guide, I presume that the vehicle will still be shown as taxed and what do you give to new keeper as proof of MOT if it still shows registration taken off?

    1. Plate-Trader says:

      Hi Kev. Thanks for the feedback :). The vehicle tax and MOT certificate will remain valid until their expiry dates and the DVLA will not send you a replacement MOT certificate. The new keeper can check MOT history of the vehicle using just the make and registration here. Hope this helps.

  6. John A Jones says:

    Thank you for this brilliantly clear and concise ‘tutorial’. As always with the internet, I was concerned about pressing the wrong button and making a total hash about something I very rarely have to complete. Thanks a million.

  7. CC Gilbey says:

    Very helpful thanks very much

  8. Peter Seal says:

    Great Tutorial very helpful. Clear and concise. It would be helpful if DVLA made some of this clear during the process. I note that it is a Beta version so hopefully it will be improved later. Thank you for your help.

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