Number Plate Stories
Protecting the rights to your number plate
By Ruby Speechley
When you buy a number plate, you don’t own it in the same way you own a car. The truth is that no matter how many hundreds or thousands of pounds you fork out for your precious number, you only ever own the right to use the registration.
Unfortunately, this means that it is possible to lose that right and at the same time lose whatever money you paid for it. This is happening to people every year because they are not aware of the registration rules and often don’t know exactly what they are paying for.
There are two ways of owning the right to a registration. Firstly, by having the number plate registered to a vehicle and secondly, retaining the number on a retention certificate.
Once the purchase of your number plate is completed, it is vital that you safeguard your rights as the registered keeper. Your name shown on the V5 document (logbook) will be proof of this, or in the case of a number being held on retention, your name will appear at the top of the certificate.
The life span of a retention certificate is a year. You’ll need to renew this document within 28 days of the expiry date for a fixed fee of £25. Failure to do so could mean you lose the number altogether.
To transfer a number plate from one vehicle to another, the donor vehicle (the vehicle which currently has the number assigned to it), must have a current V5 and a valid MOT certificate (applicable for vehicles older than three years). The tax disc must also be current or have been so within the last six months and have expired naturally (i.e. not cashed in). The receiving vehicle must also have a V5 and current MOT (again, if applicable) together with a valid tax disc (although the tax can be obtained at the same time the transfer is carried out).
There are three further reasons why you might end up losing the rights to your number plate. One slip up can be when you decide to sell or scrap your vehicle. The number plate must be transferred to another vehicle or onto a retention certificate BEFORE this is done. In the case of part-exchanging your car at a showroom, it is you that needs to take responsibility for transferring the number plate before any sale takes place (the DVLA will replace it with a stock number). Leaving it to the friendly salesperson is always a risk not worth taking.
You can also lose the rights to your number when you decide to export your vehicle. It is best to check with the DVLA first to ensure that you follow the correct procedures.Lastly, if you display your number plate illegally, not only are you liable for a maximum £1,000 fine if convicted, but you could also have your rights to the registration mark withdrawn by the Department of Transport. You would not be entitled to any sort of reimbursement for costs incurred or for the purchase of the mark.