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What is a Retention Document?

A retention document is a certificate that is issued by DVLA Swansea when a registration plate is not currently transferred on a motor vehicle. When a registration plate is being used legally on a car or motorcycle, the DVLA will issue a V5 registration document which we sometimes call a V5c or a log book. This is the official document as proof of ownership for the car. If however the car is being sold, or being returned to a lease company for example, then the number plate will need to be transferred on to another vehicle or retained for future use. When this happens, the original number plate is reinstated to the car so it can be sold.

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How much is the DVLA retention fee?

The current DVLA retention fee charge is £80 but this also includes the fee to have the registration transferred onto the next vehicle within 10 years. An application can be made online or by post although we offer a service by phone for just £20 plus VAT where we can arrange the retention application the same day avoiding delays. All we require are the details from the front of the V5c document and we will update the V5 log book, tax and MoT records and arrange a new log book to be delivered to you within 7 working days.

Is a Retention Certificate different to a Certificate of Entitlement?

In a manner of speaking a Retention Certificate is almost the same as a Certificate of Entitlement. Simply speaking a registration number held on a retention document means that the number plate has been previously used but has been saved or retained for future use whereas a plate that is on a certificate of entitlement, or V750 certificate, means that the registration number has never been used on a car. 

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Can I sell my retention document?

If you want to sell a personalised registration plate that’s held on a V778 retention document it’s important to know that the person named as the “grantee” at the top of the document is the legal owner and so although you are able to sell it, the document should have a nominee name added so that that the new owner can transfer it to their car when they decide. Adding a nominee name can only be done by post for security although, again, we can arrange a transfer to a new owners car by phone with the grantees permission.

So is it safe to buy a retention document?

Buying a personalised plate on a retention document is fraught with danger.  The certificate has a document reference number which, along with the registration number, is absolutely unique. The problem is that there is no way to check if the certificate details are correct unless you arrange an immediate transfer to a car or motorcycle. This means that if you are buying for use at a later date or as a gift you could end up paying a lot of money for a useless piece of paper. The only way to make certain that you are safe is to assign the registration to a vehicle straight away. That way, you can be sure that the paperwork was genuine. Obviously if you are buying as a gift or for a vehicle you don’t yet have, the only way to safeguard yourself is to use a “donor” vehicle belonging to a friend or relative. If thats not possible then we can arrange this for you for a fee. You should take this charge into account when considering purchasing a retention document or a certificate of entitlement.


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