If you’ve invested in a personalised number plate, you’ll probably want to move it onto your next new car. Or if you’re not buying another car right away, you may wish to keep hold of your registration plate just in case. If you’ve not had to do this before, you may not realise that there are laws when it comes to transferring a number plate, and a formal process to follow. You can’t simply remove your plate and stick it on another vehicle! 

So how do you go about this process? We’ve explored a few of the questions around keeping your private number plate below!

How Do You Keep Your Number Plate?

If you want to keep hold of your personalised plate, you’ll need to apply to do so. You can either do this via the Gov.uk website, or through the post. Should you decide to apply by post, you’ll need to send the following information to the DVLA:

  • The ‘transfer or retain a vehicle registration number’ form, which can be found on the Government website
  • Your vehicle’s logbook or the completed ‘application for a vehicle registration certificate V5C’ section from your green new keeper slip
  • A transfer fee of £80

If the vehicle isn’t in your name, you will have to apply to take your private number plate off your current car by post, but generally it’s much easier to apply via the website. 

Once your transfer has gone through, your old car will automatically be reassigned its original registration number. Hopefully you’ll have kept hold of these plates - if you’re planning to sell the car, or drive it on the road, you’ll need to reattach these first!

dog looking out a car window

Can You Keep a Plate That’s Not Personalised?

You may have sentimental attachments to your number plate, even if it’s not personalised. The good news is that you’re still able to transfer the plate across to a new vehicle! The process is the same as above, so you’ll need to pay a fee of £80 to keep your old plate. 

After the application has been approved, you’ll be sent a new logbook, with your updated registration. You’ll also receive a 'retention document', which proves that you own the number plate, and have the right to use it for the next ten years. So you can transfer it to another vehicle during that time if you want to.

If My Car’s on Finance, Can I Put a Personalised Plate on It?

Because you don’t technically own the car while it’s on finance, it’s reasonable to assume that you won’t be able to transfer a private plate onto it. But this is not the case! As you’re the registered keeper of the vehicle, you’re able to apply for a number plate transfer in the same way you would as the car’s owner. 

Do bear in mind though, that if you're in a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) agreement, and don’t intend to pay the balloon payment at the end to own the car outright, you’ll need to transfer the plate before your term finishes. This will need to be done around two months before the end of the finance agreement.

How Long Does the Process Take?

As you can probably imagine, transferring your number plate isn’t an instant process. The DVLA will take around two weeks to assign your old car its previous registration number, and send your new registration document. Of course this will depend on how busy their offices are - if you’re lucky, the process could be much quicker!

Because it takes a little while for the transfer to go through, you’re not able to put your personalised number plate on your new vehicle straight away. You can’t do this until you’ve received the retention document from the DVLA. Once this arrives, you can swap the plates and show off your new wheels with your old number plate!