What happens to number plates when a car is scrapped?

What happens to number plates when a car is scrapped?
10th June 20205 min read

Did you spend a significant amount of money on a private plate and don’t want to lose it? Perhaps you have simply become attached to your regular plate? Whatever the case, you want to keep hold of your number plate.

There’s just one issue: you’re planning on scrapping your car.

You might believe this will cause you to lose the plate forever, but that’s not actually the case. Fortunately, number plate retention and transferring is allowed for vehicles heading to the scrap yard. This guide will explain what needs to be done, including:

  • Putting a number plate on retention
  • How to apply both online and by the post
  • DVLA number plate transfer to another vehicle

Can I retain my number plate when scrapping my car?

As mentioned already, you absolutely can keep your number plate from a scrap-bound vehicle. That said, you cannot simply expect this to happen automatically by removing the plate from the vehicle.

To start with, you will have to apply for the right to retain and transfer the plate. This can be done online or by post, and both options are straightforward to follow. Before you send your application, however, make sure the vehicle is registered with the DVLA. In addition, it will need to have the right road tax – or a SORN that has lasted for at least five years.

Also, the DVLA may want to inspect your vehicle. This is often a formality. Nevertheless, ensure the car meets all of the eligibility criteria.

How to put a private plate on retention and transfer online

If you want to retain your private plate, the easiest and quickest way to do this is through the DVLA’s online platform. When doing this, you can keep the number plate to use at a later date, or you can instantly assign it to a new vehicle.

Here is a quick guide on how to retain a number plate online:

First begin by visiting the DVLA’s “Take a private number off a vehicle” page. As you do this, there are three important pieces of information to input. These are:

  • The private registration number you want to keep
  • The 11-digit reference number from the car’s V5C logbook
  • The keeper’s postcode, which is noted on the V5C

Once you have completed the online application, your registration number is immediately removed from the scrap-bound car. 
This online retention service will set you back £80. Note: you can only complete this application between 7am and 7pm each day.

The DVLA will supply instant confirmation when you have successfully finished the application.

How to transfer number plate

When transferring registration plates from car to car online, you will require either:

  • An online reference number
  • A V750 Certificate of entitlement 
  • A V778 retention document

The V778 is what you will receive after completing the retention application. This certificate should reach you by post within two weeks. With the certificate, you can begin to transfer the plate to your vehicle of choice. Simply visit the DVLA’s “Assign a private number to a vehicle” page and complete the application. Assuming an inspection isn’t needed, the number will be immediately assigned to your vehicle.

Remember the old vehicle which originally had the number plate? At this stage, it will have been issued a brand new registration mark. This means you can complete the scrapping process with the vehicle, and there’s no risk your number plate will become lost in the abyss.

How to retain and transfer a car registration number by post

So the previous section detailed the retain private plate online process, but what about keeping a vehicle registration by post? In this case, you will need extra patience – but the procedure is pretty much the same as its online counterpart.
Here’s a simple guide on how to do this by post:

First of all, you will require a DVLA V317 form. Along with being able to request a copy to be mailed to you via the form order service provided by the DVLA, you can simply download a copy from the “Apply to keep a vehicle registration number and put it on another vehicle (form V317)” page.

As you fill in the form, you will come across a section where you can select a ‘nominee’ or ‘grantee’ for your number plate. This is the same as the online application. To avoid confusion, here’s a breakdown of the two options:

  • Nominee: If you select a nominee, you will transfer plate ownership to a nominated person (or company) for use on their car. Useful if giving personalised plates as a gift.
  • Grantee: The grantee is issued the retention certificate, giving them legal ownership as a result. Useful if you’re selling the plates to someone else.
  • Leave blank: Of course, you can opt to leave this section blank. By doing this, the retention certificate is issued to the vehicle’s current registered keeper. Ideal if you want to retain the plates. 

Once the V317 form is complete, ensure it is attached with the V5C logbook and a relevant method of payment to cover the £80 fee. This then needs to be sent to:

DVLA Personalised Registrations
SA99 1DS

How to transfer a number plate

Once you have received your V778, complete this form and send it back to the above address along with the V5C. Assuming a vehicle inspection doesn’t need to be conducted, the registration number will be assigned to the new car within two weeks. 
What happens after a registration number has been assigned?

Once it is confirmed that the registration number has transferred over to your new vehicle, there are two essential steps you need to take.

First is the most obvious one: attach the new plates to the car. To do this, you can either order new plates or use the ones from the original vehicle. Secondly, you have to let your car insurance provider know about the new registration number.

Now you might be wondering what happens to your old number plate when you change it. Well, you can hold on to the original plates. They will be reassigned to the car when the private number is taken off.

The UK's most expensive number plates

Can you retain number plates from a write-off?

If your vehicle is unfortunately involved in a write-off, you will have a struggle to retain the number plate. This is because the number plate is, technically, written off at the same time.

If you’re desperate to reclaim the plate, you will have to be quick on your feet and put in a request immediately. Just remember that getting the plate means you have to deal with your insurance provider and the DVLA. You could end up going through mountains of paperwork as the DVLA makes you jump through hoops, or you might have to purchase it back from your insurance provider.

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