How to transfer an age-related or personal UK numberplate

Looking to buy or change your UK-based classic vehicle’s registration plate? These are the steps you should take to make the process as pain free as possible when dealing with the DVLA

A registration plate can be a highly cherished item. Over the years it may become a defining part of the vehicle to which it’s attached, and you may even start referring to your classic using some of its digits or letters.

In most scenarios, a registration plate will remain with the car or motorcycle throughout its life. This has been so since 1920, when the Roads Act first came into force. Up until that point, a new plate would be issued every time a vehicle was sold outside its original authority.

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While that is no longer the case, there are still a number of situations where a model can get separated from its original plate. We take a look at the various situations in which you may need to reclaim, transfer or replace your vehicle’s registration number.

Acquiring a personalised numberplate

Since 1989, the DVLA regularly holds back registration plates with interesting letter/number combinations, which it then sells on to private customers. See here for its auction site.

Independent businesses have been doing this for even longer, and offer a broad range of options. Certain combinations can be worth more than the vehicle to which they’re originally attached, and you can start your search here.

Not all registration numbers are exorbitantly priced, though, and once you’ve purchased the one you desire, you’ll need to fill in a Certificate of Entitlement (V750) and send it to the DVLA. You can then have the physical plates made up by a registered plate supplier and use them on your classic – as long as the vehicle meets certain criteria.

It must be able to move under its own power, be registered with the DVLA with an up-to-date V5C and have been taxed for the past five years or have been listed as SORN (Statutory Off Road Notice). The tax requirements will not apply if your vehicle was manufactured before January 1, 1978. Remember to inform your insurer of the change of registration number, or you may get fined.

One last thing to keep in mind is that you cannot have a numberplate that makes your vehicle look newer than its age identifier (the date it was first registered). So, if your car or bike is from the suffix era (1963-1983), it will not be able to display prefix-style plates that were sold between 1983 and 2001. Dateless numberplates from before 1963 are fair game but can be pricey.

Transferring a numberplate

If you would like to transfer a numberplate, you can apply to do this online using the V317 form. The process allows for a transfer if you intend to put your existing plate on a car or bike you already own, or are buying it to put onto someone else’s vehicle. In the latter instance, both parties will be required to complete the form.

There is an £80 transfer fee, and you must also have the registration certificate and a completed V62 form – which is an application for a V5C certificate. You may also need vehicle tax payment and an MoT certificate.

The online service for changing vehicle registration numbers can be found here.

How to reclaim an original plate

If your classic has lost its original plate, you may want to reclaim it. This can be done under the V765 scheme. Firstly, you will need to fill in a V55/5 form, which you can find here. This application will require you to submit a current photo of your vehicle, as well as a signed and stamped V765 form from the relevant owner’s club for your particular make and model of classic. Find this form here.

There is no charge from the DVLA for this, as the vehicle is being re-registered. However, your specialist club may charge a fee to process your request. For the application to have a higher chance of success, it’s essential that you have some form of evidence to link the requested registration number to the vehicle. Old records that display the registration or chassis number can be useful, especially if they are from a verifiable source. If you have the old RF60/VE60 logbook, that is also very helpful. The key here is to provide as much pre-1983 documentary evidence as you can that links the registration number and chassis to the vehicle.

If successful, the registration number will be assigned to your vehicle but will not be transferable. Once you receive the V5C, you can then apply to have your vehicle taxed.

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Age-related numberplates

If there is no suitable or acceptable documentation that can link your vehicle to the desired registration plate, then you can still apply for an age-related number. You would have to provide proof of the model’s year of manufacture, and may need to get the relevant club to provide a dating certificate if the manufacturer is no longer in existence. The registration plate issued will be non-transferrable if it is of a non-suffix or prefix type.

Q-plates

Vehicles that cannot be supplied with any suitable form of identification, or those that have been rebuilt with many different components, may be allocated a Q-series registration number. It may have to pass a Vehicle Type Approval test if it is under 10 years of age, and getting insurance can also be more of a hassle.

There are a number of other provisos relating to ‘radically altered’ vehicles, as well as to kit cars, so it is best to check online beforehand what your specific vehicle may require, by following this link.

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