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How do I put a number plate onto retention?

Under the DVLA Retention Scheme, you can take a registration off a vehicle and 'retain' it on a certificate ready to be assigned to another vehicle.

The certificate is officially known as a V778 Retention Document (see an example here) but many people simply refer to it as a retention certificate or putting a registration on retention.

If you are selling your registration,  you'll need to put it on retention so that it is ready to be assigned to the buyers car. In the past, it would have been wise to do this before finding a buyer, as the paperwork could take a couple of weeks. Now, however, the process can be done instantly online here

Another recent change the DVLA have instroduced, is that previously you could apply to hold a registration on a retention certificate for one, two, or three years depending on how long you think it would be before the registration will be transferred back onto a vehicle. Now, the DVLA has made things a whole lot easier by making all new retention certificates valid for 10 years, and free to renew for another 10 years after that (should you need to).

Before you rush off and apply though, let's look at if you are eligible to retain your registration...

Can I retain my registration?

To be able to retain a registration, the following must apply...

• You must be the Registered Keeper - the person named on the V5 log book of the vehicle.
• The registration should be transferable - the words 'non-transferrable' should not appear anywhere on your documents.
• The vehicle should be taxed . If your road tax has expired, contact the DVLA for advice.
• The vehicle should be MOT'd - Before applying for a DVLA Retention Document, make sure the vehicle has an MOT as the DVLA may decide to inspect your vehicle before approving the transfer. If your vehicle does not have a current MOT, contact the DVLA for advice.

How to apply for a V778 Retention Document

As mentioned earlier in this guide, you can now apply instantly online.

Alternatively, if you'd prefer to apply by paper, you'll need to use the DVLA form V317 form, which you can download from us for FREE here.

Complete the V317 form and post it to the DVLA in Swansea, with the original Vehicle Registration Certificate (V5 / V5C). If you've just acquired the vehicle, see instructions on the V778/1 form for alternative documentation.

Will I get a Retention Certificate straight away?

No, the V778 Retention Document will be posted to you. Before approval, the DVLA office may decide to inspect your vehicle. This will be to confirm the vehicle's entitlement to the registration number. In particular, they will check the VIN number and chassis plate. The DVLA office will inform you if they wish to inspect the vehicle. If you are asked to produce the vehicle for inspection and the MOT/road tax has expired, you will need to have it transported to the DVLA office, also note that you may not get all of your fee back if your application to retain the registration number is turned down.

How do I get a new registration?

When your application is approved, the DVLA will allocate a replacement registration number that reflects the age of the vehicle. If possible, the DVLA will try to reissue the vehicle's previous registration number, however, this is not guaranteed. Replacement registration numbers are issued on a non-transferable basis. That means you will not be able to sell the replacement registration. You can, however, replace it with another private registration number at a later date.

What happens when the retention is approved?

When your application has been approved by the DVLA, you will receive a V778 Retention Document. Don't sell or scrap your vehicle until you receive this document! The DVLA will also issue a replacement V5 registration document reflecting the replacement registration number. Your retention certificate will be valid for up to 10 years but can be extended for free. If you haven't assigned the registration number to a vehicle before the expiry date, you will need to apply to extend the certificate, you will find instructions on how to do this on the back of the V778 Retention Document.

DVLA number plate retention fees

Application to retain a registration number: £80 for up to 10 years, and this includes the assignment fee, meaning that there is nothing further to pay when you assign the registration to another vehicle.
Application to make an amendment to a retention certificate: Free.
Application to extend a retention certificate: Free for an additional 10 years.

Further reading

If you need any clarification on the above guide, we recommend visiting the DVLA's official guide here.

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