If lots of people are changing their cars right now – and it appears they are – it also means a lot of private number plates are going to be changing from one vehicle to another. If you’re one of the many people with a private number plate on a car you’re looking to sell, here’s a quick guide to removing a private plate and what you then need to do.
A buoyant market
If anyone thought the unique challenges of 2020 would lead to a slump in new and used car sales, it turns they couldn’t have been more wrong. While car sales initially fell almost to zero for a while as dealerships were forced to close, the bounce back car and motorcycle sales have seen has been the kind of “V-shaped” recovery the rest of the economy can only dream about.
In a survey of 1000 car buyers carried out by Auto Trader this week, 55% percent said the latest restrictions imposed by the government would have no negative impact whatsoever on their intention to buy another car. Although 14% of respondents said coronavirus measures could make them delay a purchase, a further 7% said it made them want to purchase a car even quicker.
Of course, if you have a private number plate on your car and you don’t want to sell it with the car it could slow things down a little. If you are in something of a hurry to dispose of your current car but keep the number plate, as long as you know what you’re doing it really shouldn’t slow things down by very much at all.
Two ways to go
You basically have two options if you want to keep your private registration number, and once you understand the process involved with your chosen route it’s actually a lot quicker and simpler than many people believe. On one hand, you can apply to have your number put on retention for use at a later date, or you could choose to do a transfer directly from your old vehicle to your new one.
It’s certainly a lot quicker and easier these days with the ability to do it all online than it was until only a few years ago when it used to mean a long wait queuing at the post office counter. It could be all too common to find that when it was finally your turn at the window you didn’t have the correct documentation and you’d have to go home, get the right documents, and then come back and do it all again.
There’s further good news for those embarking on the process of removing a private number plate because DVLA rule changes mean it now costs less to remove a private plate than it used to.
Putting a private number on retention
As with all issues related to changing vehicles, it all revolves around letting the DVLA know what’s going on and what you want to do. At the heart of it all is your V5C form, which needs to be filled out correctly with all the requisite information.
The process of putting your private registration number on retention (so it can be assigned to another vehicle at a later date) can be done online or by post these days. The online option is obviously by far the quickest as the number will be removed from your vehicle immediately as long as your vehicle doesn’t need to be inspected for some reason.
Online – If you choose to remove your number from your current vehicle using the online option, you’ll then be issued with a reference number as soon as the process has been completed successfully. This reference number allows you to assign your private plate to another vehicle immediately.
By post – Applying by post is always going to take longer than using the online process, and considerably longer when things are particularly busy at the DVLA. Inevitably, the process is a lot more paper-heavy as well as you’ll need a V317 form and the vehicle’s V5C, or the green ‘new keeper’ slip with a completed V62 if you don’t have the full V5C.
Either way, the vehicle you’re taking the number off will have to currently be taxed or have a Statutory Off-Road Notice (SORN) in place if it isn’t taxed, and the cost of putting the plate on retention is £80.
As long as your application is successful, you’ll be sent a new V5C for the car you’ve removed your private number plate from, and the original number it had when it was first registered will probably be reallocated to it. If that number has been used by someone else or if your car was registered with your private plate from day one, the DVLA will issue a new number that’s date-appropriate.
It can take a long as six weeks for the new V5C to arrive in the worst cases, but most of the time it comes within just a few days and you’ll also receive a V778 retention document for your private number plate.
Transferring a private number
Transferring a number straight from one vehicle to another is just as easy as putting a number on retention online, but the online option probably makes it a better idea to put the number on retention and then transfer it once you take ownership of the vehicle you want to transfer it to.
If you’re buying from a dealer then a straight transfer might be fine, especially if they’re taking your current vehicle in part-exchange. If you’re buying from a private seller there are risks involved in transferring a number that you can avoid entirely by putting your number on retention to begin with, and then do the transfer once you take ownership of the car you want to put the number on to.
Transferring a private registration plate or even putting one on retention used to be a potentially traumatic affair when it had to be done by post or at the post office counter. Just ask any car sales exec who was in the business in the days before it could all be done online! Today, however, it’s a quick, simple and hassle-free process that can be completed in a minute or two without having to leave your seat.