How to Put a Number Plate on Retention

How to Put a Number Plate on Retention

You may want to put your number plate on retention because you’re wanting to sell your car but keep your registration. You may have recently bought a private number plate to replace your old one, or you want to sell your plate to someone else. Luckily, the DVLA provide a retention service for these type of situations. 

In this blog, we’ll show you how you can put a number plate on retention, the processes you need to follow and how to make your application successful.

What is the process for putting a number plate on retention?

The official document you will need to retain your number plate is a V778 certificate. This allows you to retain your plate, no matter your personal circumstance. Especially if you need to sell your plate, the retention form must be completed in order to assign a current or new plate to a new vehicle. The process used to take weeks to get your certificate, but now you can get one more easily by simply filling out the online form.

As well as providing an online form, the DVLA have also made more changes to the process and the certificate. Instead of only being able to have a retention document for 2–3 years, the DVLA have changed their policy, allowing you to retain your plate for up to 10 years! So if your situation changes, you can be reassured knowing that you will be able to keep your number plate on retention.

What you need to put your plate on retention

There are specific requirements you’ll need when you apply for your retention form for your number plate. Your application may not be successful if you do not meet the requirements set out by the DVLA. To make sure your application is successful, here is a list of requirements for retaining your number plate from the DVLA.

  • You must be registered with the DVLA.

  • Your vehicle needs to be able to move on its own once you start it

  • You need to be available for inspection if it’s required.

  • Your vehicle must have been taxed or had a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification)

  • Even if your vehicle is usually exempt from MOTs, you'll need a current MOT certificate if you have a historic vehicle.

It will also cost you around £80 for the form. Without paying this fee, you won’t be able to put your number plate on retention.

How long does it take to get a retention certificate?

On average, it can take up to six weeks to get your retention certificate. If you change your mind about retaining your number plate, there’s a very simple process you can follow to take your number plate off of retention and get a refund for your certificate. However, if you do decide to stop your number plate retention process, keep in mind that you will lose your entitlement to the plate.

What rights do you get with a retention certificate? 

Once you’ve received your retention certificate, it lasts for up to ten years. Even after that time (presuming the plate still hasn't been assigned to another vehicle), you can renew your form for another ten years.

Why would the DVLA reject a retention application?

There are quite a few reasons why the DVLA may reject your retention form application. For example:

  • If you’re not registered with the DVLA for your vehicle.

  • If upon inspection your vehicle is unable to move once started.

  • If your vehicle isn't available for an inspection.

  • If you haven't presented the correct information for your vehicle's tax affairs such as not providing a SORN. 

  • If your vehicle doesn't have an MOT or fails its MOT.

Other Considerations

The DVLA usually processes your application on the day it’s sent, or within five working days from when they receive the application. However, the DVLA may reject your retention form application for the following reasons:

  • If the application doesn't have any prospect of success.

  • If the application was lodged without a fee.

  • If your application contains a discharge for a charge.

When my retention application is approved, what happens next?

It may take a few days, but after your application has been approved you should receive a V5C log book for your car or motorcycle with your replacement registration. With your V5C log book, you’ll also receive your V778 certificate for retaining your number plate. 

However, the DVLA may decide to inspect your vehicle before they give you your certificate. You must ensure that, as soon as you put your application forward, your vehicle is inspection ready before the DVLA decide to look at it. In addition, you must ensure that you’ve provided the correct email address to the DVLA, as this is where they will send the certificate.

DVLA retention application fees 

Before the reforms in retention certificates in 2015, you used to have to pay a yearly retention fee of £25 a year to keep your number plate on retention. This is no longer the case. All you have to pay is £80 for the application form and, if you are successful in your application, it will last for 10 years before it needs to be renewed. 

Retention Form FAQs

Can I put my number plate on retention online?

You can apply to put your number plate on retention online or via the post by using a V5C form. If you want to put your number plate on retention online, all you have to do is go to the website and apply for your retention certificate. Be aware that there is an £80 fee to apply for the certificate.

Can I transfer my new private plate onto my car straight away?

As soon as your application has been approved, you can use your new number plate straight away for your vehicle. However, the process may take between 4–6 weeks depending on your application details.

How long does it take to put my number plate on retention?

It can take between 4–6 weeks before your retention V778 certificate is sent to you. When your application has been approved, you’ll also receive a new V5C log book, so you can register your new plate to your vehicle. 

What is a V5C document?  

A V5C vehicle registration document registers your car or motorcycle to the DVLA. It contains every bit of information on your vehicle. This includes the manufacturer, the date your vehicle was registered, the engine size and even the colour of your vehicle.

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Get in contact with our friendly sales team for more information on our personalised number plates by emailing us at or calling us on 0203 930 4274.