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VRM Swansea. DVLA RNPS:3166
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based on 8,000+ reviews
Use a Private Registration Guide

Frequently asked Questions

Can I use UK mainland private number plates on my Northern Ireland registered Vehicle?

Yes. The DVLA based here in Swansea has now become the overarching body for all vehicle licensing in the UK, including Northern Ireland. The transfer process for customers in Northern Ireland is now exactly the same as that for customers on the mainland — quicker, simpler and £180 cheaper than in the past! So, if your vehicle is registered in Northern Ireland you can proceed to purchase any GB private number plate (that is suitable for your vehicle’s age) at no extra cost!

Can I use a Northern Ireland (NI) private number plate on my UK vehicle?

Yes. The DVLA based here in Swansea has now become the overarching body for all vehicle licensing in the UK, including Northern Ireland. This means you can easily transfer a Northern Ireland format private numberplate to your UK vehicle. Northern Ireland format registrations don’t carry age identifiers either, so they’re suitable for vehicles of any age.

Can I use an Isle of Man private number plate on my UK or Northern Ireland vehicle?

Combinations of vehicle registrations containing the word 'MAN' are only available in the Isle of Man and cannot be transferred to UK or NI registered vehicles. Similarly, private numberplates bearing a three letter sequence ending MN are restricted to Isle of Man vehicles (though a three letter combination beginning MN is allowed in the UK). Although the Isle of Man is part of the British Isles, it effectively has its own Government and vehicle registration system, therefore Isle of Man registrations cannot be transferred to vehicles registered at DVLA Swansea.

Can I use a Channel Islands private number plate on my UK or Northern Ireland vehicle?

Unfortunately not. Jersey registrations, consisting of the letter 'J' followed by one to six digits, or 'JSY' followed by one to three digits, can only be used in Jersey. Guernsey registrations, featuring up to 5 numbers without any letters at all, can only be used on vehicles registered in Guernsey.

My vehicle has a “Q” prefix registration number plate - can it participate in the transfer and retention processes?

Unfortunately the answer is no. Vehicles are given a "Q" registration mark by the DVLA when the origin or vehicle age is uncertain. "Q" numbers are therefore non-transferable and must remain with the vehicle unless documentary evidence, which confirms the vehicle’s origin or age, comes to the attention of the DVLA. If you are in possession of such documentary evidence then you should contact the DVLA, who may then assign a replacement age-related registration number plate to the vehicle. If the DVLA authorise such a change and your vehicle is assigned a standard registration mark, then your vehicle may take part in the transfer and retention processes, although the registration mark replacing your Q plate will be non-transferrable.

The private number plate that I want is not listed for sale - can you find it for me?

Only the DVLA holds records regarding the vehicle and Keeper history associated with particular registrations. Due to the Data Protection Act they are unable to disclose many details, especially details concerning previous or current Registered Keepers. For more information you can contact DVLA enquiries on 0300 790 6802. Alternatively, contact us on 01792 477316 and we will be happy to assist you with finding an alternative.

Why do I need to check the age of my vehicle?

The majority of registration marks carry an ‘age identifier’ which relates to the date when the mark was released. Our government is keen to prevent fraudsters attempting to make vehicles look newer than they actually are. To prevent this from happening, the DVLA does not permit newer registration marks to be transferred to older vehicles. However, it does permit older marks to be transferred to newer vehicles without hindrance.

Please note that some registration marks do not carry an 'age identifier' within their sequence (please see below for examples). This is true of mainland UK registrations released before 1963 and all Northern Ireland format registration marks. These two types of registration mark can be transferred to any age vehicle. All other types of registration marks carry 'age identifiers' and so if you choose one of these it's always best to check if it can be legally transferred to your chosen vehicle before you buy it.

Examples of registration types and age identifiers:

Mainland UK dateless number plates (issued between 1903 and 1963)

No age identifier

  • Examples:

    A 1A 123ABC 1231 A123 A123 ABC

Northern Ireland number plates (from 1903)

No age identifier

  • Examples:

    1 AZAZ 1AZ 1234ABZ 1GIL 123GAZ 1234BIG 1234JUI 135  

    Suffix number plates (Issued between 1963 and 1983)

    Age identifier is the last letter (suffix).

  • Examples:

    ABC 1DABC 123FWOO 13YANN 4SPAU 10SHEL 3N  

    Prefix number plates (issued between 1983 and 2001)

    Age identifier is the first letter (prefix).

  • Examples:

    A1 ABCA123 ABCS5 UESA117 ONYP4 ULST4 MMYK155 ESSB16 CARS4 UCYK1 NGS

Current style/new style number plates (from 2001)

Age identifier is the number group.

  • Examples:

    CU06 SDECU56 SDEHP02 HELRU55 ELLAS02 ZZZ

What transfer rules do I need to consider?

In order to have a private number plate assigned to your vehicle, the vehicle must be: An appropriate age to receive the private number plate. (See ‘Why do I need to check the age of my vehicle?’ above.) Registered, or due to be registered, in Great Britain or Northern Ireland, in your name or in the name of the Nominee. The Nominee name must match the present registered Keeper of the vehicle, which can be you, someone else or a firm such as a leasing company. Taxed, due to be taxed, or have a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) in place at the time of the transfer assignment application. Please note that your vehicle will need to be taxed if it’s had a SORN in place for longer than 5 years. A type that has, or will have, an MOT or Goods Vehicle Test (GVT) certificate. Not registered in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, or carry a Q registration plate.

Can agricultural vehicles take part in a registration transfer?

Only MOT testable vehicles can take part in the scheme e.g. not tractors, road repairing machines or agricultural vehicles.

Do I have to transfer the private number plate straight away?

If the private numberplate you’re purchasing is a previously unissued one (i.e., you’ll be the first owner), then transfers can be completed whenever you’re ready; the registration can be held on a certificate indefinitely (though after ten years you will need to renew your certificate, which may incur an additional cost).

With a pre-owned registration the process is slightly different and some delayed transfers may incur an additional cost. Click here to see our ‘Purchase Options Explained’ or read the information displayed when you view the private number plate for more information.

What happens after I place an order?

Firstly, you should receive an email confirmation of your personalised number plate order sent to the email address you have provided. Once your payment has been cleared by our bank you will receive a second email confirming the order has been processed. If you do not receive these then please check that the email address you have given us is correct and active. Then check that your mailbox is not full so that our mail can be received. If this fails to resolve the problem, please contact us with an alternative email address.

We will also send you a confirmation pack by first class post. This confirmation pack will contain all the information you need to proceed with the transfer.

If you have chosen the Done-For-You transfer service, then in order for us to complete the transfer of your personalised numberplate we will need the original V5C Registration Certificate (also known as the ‘logbook’). (We advise that you make a copy of all documents for your own records before you send them in to us.) Unless you have amended the name and/or address on your V5, there is no need to sign this; simply send the whole document in as it is. If you have amended any details, then please sign Section 8 of the document to authorise the changes.

Please note: After the registration mark has been assigned, the DVLA will send the new V5C directly to the registered Keeper at the address on the V5C. Please consider this if you are applying to assign the personalized number plate as a surprise gift.

Since submitting my documents, a new V5C in the current registration has arrived; what should I do?

If the document you sent to us was a V5C/2 New Keeper's Supplement and you have since received a new logbook in your standard registration mark, then please let us know so that we can check the progress of your transfer. We will likely need the new V5C to be forwarded to us. The DVLA always needs the most recent keeper's document for a vehicle in order to complete the transfer of a personalised number plate.

What happens to my old registration mark?

Your existing registration mark will be removed from your vehicle and held in the DVLA’s holding system. If you have the space then put your old number plates into storage because if you transfer your personalised number plate at a later date then the previous age-related registration will most likely be re-instated by the DVLA. Please note, however, that there are no guarantees; you may simply receive a registration mark that relates to the age of your vehicle.

How do I change the Nominee name on my V750 Certificate of Entitlement?

In order for a transfer to be successful, the nominated user on the V750 Certificate of Entitlement must match the registered Keeper on the V5C Registration Certificate. If you need to make any changes to the V750 then you will need to send us your Certificate of Entitlement with the completed ‘Application to change nominee’ slip, which is part of your ‘Using your Certificate of Entitlement’ letter. We must apply to the DVLA to process the application on your behalf, as they will not accept any applications to make changes to the certificate without our authority.

Please note: if we have already signed Section 6 of your V750 Certificate of Entitlement then you can simply complete Section 2 with the appropriate Nominee name and send the certificate directly to the DVLA with your V5C to assign the registration mark.

Can I put a personalised number plate on a leased or Motability vehicle?

We always advise you speak with your leasing or Motability Company prior to purchasing a private registration; it’s important to confirm that there are no restrictions in assigning a personalised registration mark to your vehicle.

Often, leasing and Motability companies are happy to assign private registrations to a vehicle but will request to handle the transfer themselves. Therefore, you should always check to see if they require your details or their own to be printed on the government certificate as the ‘nominated’ user. (In order for the transfer to be successful, the nominated user name should match the registered Keeper.)

If you are looking at purchasing a private registration which is listed as pre-owned on the website, we advise you contact a member of our sales team who will be able to discuss the options available to you for your chosen registration mark. This is because, due to data protection laws, the process can vary for pre-owned registrations.

We also advise you speak with your leasing or Motability company to confirm that the private registration will be retained into your details once it has been removed from the vehicle in the future.

I have received my number plates - when can I put them on my vehicle?

You are unable to display your plates on your vehicle until the transfer of your private registration is complete.

If you have ordered the Do-it-Yourself transfer, it takes an average of 5-10 days to get the V750 Certificate of Entitlement to you. You will then need to apply to the DVLA directly to assign the private registration by sending them the certificate along with the receiving vehicle's documents and wait for notification that the transfer has been completed. You will know the transfer has been completed when you receive your new V5C Registration Certificate, bearing the new registration mark, in the post. (Time scales will vary depending on the DVLA workload and Royal Mail.)

If you opted for the Done-for-You Transfer, it generally takes up to 2 weeks from the date we receive your vehicle documents for us to complete the transfer (unless you were instructed otherwise). We will send an email confirmation when the transfer is complete, and you can then display your new plates. (You will receive a new V5C Registration Certificate from the DVLA, but our email allows you to put the plates on while waiting for this document to arrive.)

Please note: all time scales represent an average and are for guidance purposes only.

I have received my new V5C Vehicle Registration Certificate (the ’logbook’) - when will I receive my MOT certificate?

The DVLA do not issue replacement MOT certificates. Your MOT (and road tax records) will be updated electronically as part of the transfer and will remain valid until the current expiry date.

How will my road tax be affected?

Your road tax (and MOT) will be updated electronically as part of the transfer and will remain valid until the current expiry date.

Do I need to inform my insurers that I have a new private registration?

Yes, as they will need to update your records for accuracy. We also advise telling them that in the event of a ‘total loss claim’, whereby the insurance company effectively buys your vehicle from you due to theft or as a 'write off’, the private registration mark will remain your property. Ask them to acknowledge this request in writing. They do not normally make a charge for issuing a new cover note in these circumstances or for complying with this request.

Can I use my private registration abroad?

Using a private registration mark internationally will depend upon where the vehicle is registered. If you have the vehicle registered to an address in the UK but use the mark abroad, this is perfectly acceptable as the vehicle is still subject to the registration number rules and regulations put in place by the DVLA.

However, if you export the vehicle to an address in another country then the vehicle will be subject to the rules and regulations of the governing body of that country, including the registration number policies of that country. Therefore a British registration will not normally be able to be applied to the vehicle in the longer term. NB: this is also true of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

What happens to my private registration when I sell my vehicle?

When you change your vehicle, you'll probably want to keep your private registration. To do this, you will need to apply to the DVLA to retain the registration number. Simply complete a V317 form, which is available to download from the DVLA's website and from larger post offices and send this with the required fee of £80 payable to DVLA.

You can either apply to transfer the private registration mark directly onto another vehicle or you can apply to put the registration onto a Retention Certificate. Both of these options will require a fee of £80 payable to the DVLA.

You can remove the registration from your vehicle using the DVLA’s online system.

NB: If you do not retain your private registration before selling the vehicle it’s registered to, then the registration will be sold with the vehicle and become the property of the new Keeper.

Can I transfer my private registration mark to another vehicle?

Yes, you can, provided it’s of a suitable age to receive the mark and is taxed and MOT’d. To transfer the private registration mark, simply complete a V317 form, which is available to download from the DVLA's website and from larger post offices. The completed form must be sent with both V5C Registration Certificates for the vehicles involved, along with the required fee of £80, payable to DVLA.

I used to own a registration mark - can I get it back?

It depends on the circumstances regarding the loss of the registration mark:

If your vehicle was stolen and not recovered, you may be able to get your private registration back via the DVLA, but only if the vehicle was taxed, held a valid MOT test and you reported the theft to the police. The DVLA will need to hold a record of the theft for 12 months, but for no longer than 3 years. You can contact the DVLA directly on 0300 790 6802 for more information. You cannot get your private registration back if you sold the vehicle to your insurance company as a ‘write off’, unless you stipulated that the sale did not include the registration mark. You may already have acknowledgement of this (see the advice in ‘Do I need to inform my insurers that I have a new registration mark?’ above). If the vehicle was scrapped then the private registration is lost, similar to as if you had sold it to your insurance company as a ‘write off’ (see above). If you sold your vehicle privately, with the private registration still assigned to the vehicle, then it’s possible the registration may become available again in the future should the current owner decide to sell it. Only the DVLA hold records on the vehicle and Keeper history and due to the Data Protection Act they are unable to disclose many details, especially details concerning the previous or current Keepers. You can contact DVLA enquiries on 0300 790 6802.

In the examples noted above, with the exception of loss via theft, it’s possible to keep your private registration if you transfer it to another vehicle or certificate first. To do this, simply complete a V317, available to download from the DVLA's website and from some post offices and send this with the required fee of £80 payable to DVLA. You can do this online using the DVLA’s online system.