From simple initials to more complex expressions on your job, life or loves, a personalised licence plate is something which drivers in the UK have long seen as both a status symbol and a great way to make your car that little bit more ‘you’.
Millions of UK motorists have invested in personalised plates for their car. It is estimated that around 335,000 personalised plates are sold each year, with prices varying from as little as a few hundred pounds to hundreds of thousands – something which can make owning some personalised plates an investment.
As a result a lot of drivers, once they have found the plate they are looking for, will snap it up but won’t immediately put the plate on their car – there’s normally no rush.
But under changes to the way the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) now works however, anyone who has bought a personalised plate but not yet fitted it to their vehicle could lose their ownership of it – and time is running out.
Having the right to use a particular number plate without actually having it on your vehicle is known as keeping it ‘on retention’.
Anyone buying a personalised plate after 2015 plate will have been informed that if it hasn’t yet been registered and fitted to the car the right to use it has to be renewed every 10 years – a process which costs nothing.
And until recently if you forgot to do this you could still buy back the right to use it from the DVLA, at a cost of £25 for each year the plate had not been renewed.
That is about to change however – and it could see collectors, enthusiasts or those who just haven’t found the opportunity to have their plate installed lose out.
As of December 18 this year the DVLA will no longer be accepting applications to renew expired retention certificates. The agency said that after this point they will no longer be re-issuing the plate to the previous owner – so if you haven’t got your paperwork up to date by then you will lose the right to use your carefully chosen registration.
And for those thinking they can just pick it up again at a later date, that’s not the case either – the DVLA has said that from this year if the entitlement to a personalised licence plate is allowed to lapse it won’t be issued to anyone else and will disappear from use.
A spokesman said: “DVLA only sells previously unissued registration marks and there are no plans to sell the rights to previously issued marks where the rights have been lost.”
Renewing a retention certificate is straightforward. You can do it by filling in the V750 or V778 certificate and sending it to the DVLA at the address on the form along with the fee.
If you have lost the certificate you can still reapply to retain the right to the registration. You’ll need to write to DVLA Personalised Registrations explaining why you do not have your V750 or V778. You will also need to include the fee, your private number and proof of your name and address, for example your driving licence or both your passport and a utility bill.
Fortunately expert advice in all the paperwork is just a few clicks away. The staff at expert reseller CarReg.co.uk are able to take drivers step-by-step through the process of buying, selling and retaining their ideal number plate.
Jason from CarReg.co.uk said: “Every one of our customers has taken the time to look for something personal to them, so we want to make sure they are aware of the changing rules and can keep hold of their plate. Anyone who isn’t sure about what they need to do should get in touch with us.
“And anyone thinking about buying a new plate shouldn’t be dissuaded – number plates are still a great gift for people that love their cars, and can be an investment, as each one is unique.”