What happens to my existing number plate?

As the most popular supplier of private number plates we often get asked this question by our customers, as they wonder what happens to their existing registration mark once the transfer of their new private plate is complete.
06/04/2023 Blog
Existing number plate

Q: I want to assign a new Private Plate to my vehicle, what happens to my existing registration mark and number plates?

A: Unless you want to display it on a different vehicle, pass it on or sell it, the existing registration mark will remain linked to your vehicle for later re-instatement.

In our experience, there are several good reasons for this question. The registration mark may hold special value so they may wish to use it on another vehicle, sell it on the open market, or even give it to someone else. Often they may be concerned about the vehicle’s glass security etchings, MOT’s and service history documents matching up, when someone buys the vehicle off them at a later date.

Provided you haven’t actually sold or transferred the original registration yourself (onto a document or another vehicle), then the good news is that the DVLA will keep it to one side until you are ready to take your current personalised number plate off your vehicle in readiness of putting it on your new vehicle. At that point, the previous registration number will be reinstated, and if you’ve kept the original number plates you can pop those back on too!

It is worth noting that in the past you would not have been able to re-use the old registration mark at all if you hadn’t paid an £80 government fee to retain it, but that rule has changed. Whilst we have recent confirmation from DVLA that you do not need to retain your registration mark, we note that DVLA have changed their policies and processes in the past without prior notice, so caution is advised. As a result of this and with our experience in this area we always suggest that you retain the current registration mark prior to assigning the new private plate, if it is particularly valuable to you.

What happens to my private plate when I want to sell my vehicle?

When you are ready to sell your vehicle, you will need to retain your personalised number plate onto a V778 Retention Document and this presently costs £80.00. The previous registration mark will then be placed back onto your vehicle by the DVLA. You can retain your private plate via the DVLA online system or by submitting documents to the DVLA by post. Information and a link to the online application process can be found here:


Alternatively, if you want to transfer your personalised number plate directly from vehicle-to-vehicle, you can do this by postal application using a V317 form, available here:


Note: You should always remove the registration mark before signing over the vehicle to its new owner (or scrapping it), as otherwise you will be inadvertently giving them ownership of your private plate.

If you purchase or have purchased private plates through us, you can choose our premium, hassle free, Done-For-You service whereby we can assist you in retaining your existing registration number off your vehicle at the same time as transferring your new plate onto it!

We hope that this article will help you. If you want more information or have other questions, you can find your answers by visiting our FAQ page.

Click here to search and find your perfect private number plate