How To Keep Your License Plate When Selling Your Car (2022)

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by Cobus F. Potgieter /

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Here are the steps to follow.

Read in this article:

  • What to Do With Your License Plates When You Sell Your Car
  • How to Keep Your License Plates When You Sell Your Car
  • Notes: If You Keep Your License Plate When Selling Your Car
  • Can I Apply to Retain My License Plates Online?
  • Who to Inform When You Attach Personalized License Plates
  • Conclusion
  • FAQs

Selling your car to get a newer model as a replacement can be confusing and leave you with many questions; for example, what happens to your license plate? Each states' legislation differs and you must be aware of the local laws, applicable to your place of residence in the US. For example, filing a CNO-REG 102 (certificate of non-operation) may be required in California upon registering some vehicles. So, while the rest of this article explores various options on how to retain your plates, be sure to familiarize yourself with your local laws first.

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(Video) Selling Your Car? Keep The Plates, And..

What to Do With Your License Plates When You Sell Your Car

Remember, a license plate links a specific person to a specific car. If you sold your car with your license plates and someone else drives around in it, it can be misidentified as still being yours. When you sell your vehicle, you sign the title over to the buyer, and in most US states, returning your license plates and tags to the local DMV is part of the process. When selling your car, the license plate cannot just go with it.

How to Keep Your License Plates When You Sell Your Car

One of the few exceptions is a private license plate. You are allowed to remove and keep such a license plate when selling a car, but you still have to follow procedures. Again, check with your DMV. You still sign the title over to the new owner, but you must notify your local DMV that you're keeping the plates. This process varies by state. For example, in a number of states, you remove your personalized old license plates from the original car, take them home, and apply to have them assigned to a new vehicle.

How To Keep Your License Plate When Selling Your Car (2) unsplash.com

Notes: If You Keep Your License Plate When Selling Your Car

There are some things to keep in mind when transferring personalized license plates:

  • Transferring to someone else: You can put in an application to have the license plates transferred to a friend or relative.
  • Transfer fee: In many cases, transferring the plates to a new vehicle in your name attracts no charge, but transferring to someone else does.
  • Keeping the plates: You can just retain the private plate without reassigning it to another car, as long as you continue to pay the annual license plate retention fee.
(Video) Why You Should Remove Your Car's License Plates When You Sell It

Can I Apply to Retain My License Plates Online?

You might not be able to apply to retain your license plates on the internet, but other services may be available online, depending on your state's DMV. For example, on California's DMV website, you can do the following:

  • You can order a personalized or a special-interest license plate
  • You can renew both your driver's license and your vehicle's registration
  • You can calculate estimated licensing and/or vehicle registration fees
  • You can pay to have suspended registrations reinstated

Be sure to check what your local DMV can do for you.

Who to Inform When You Attach Personalized License Plates

Naturally, the DMV will need to know, since that's who you pay your licensing fees to. However, there are a few other parties that may want to be informed. For example, your insurer will be interested. Normally, all they need is a vehicle's VIN, but you really don't want to give them any excuse to not pay out a claim - such as your car's registration not matching the license plate they have on file.

Another party that may want to know is the car dealership you're leasing your car from. Normally, you can't customize the vehicle without incurring additional charges, but putting personalized plates on a leased car is not really considered as such. Still, it never hurts to check with them; the last thing you need when you're returning it is being hit with unexpected additional costs.

Conclusion

Generally, retaining your personalized license plate is permitted in any state, as long as you familiarize yourself with your local DMV's requirement - completing all the paperwork requested is very important to avoid any confusion or problems in the future.

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(Video) How to Transfer Private Number Plate From Retention Certificate V750 to Your Car Registration

FAQs

How do I apply to transfer my personalized license plates in my state?

The procedures and required forms differ from state to state. To ensure you have the correct information, check your local DMV website, or give them a call to clarify.

Do you keep the license plate when you sell a car?

No, you have to surrender them to the DMV. You may keep personalized plates without even putting them on a car, but you'll have to continue paying your annual license fee.

What do you do with old license plates?

You cannot simply sell your license plate along with your car. You can keep your personalized ones, after following certain procedures, but the DMV usually destroys plates after removal.

How are license plates assigned?

By the DMV of your state, according to specific rules, which can be read on its website.

Do EV cars have different license plates?

No, whether they are EVs, small hatchback cars, or a brand-new Ford Mustang, all license plates are issued the same way.

Are other types of personalized license plates or special plates available?

Yes, such as pet lovers' and veterans' organizations' license plates. When you apply for your car license plate, check what you qualify for with your DMV.

(Video) Cheshire cars how to retain and transfer a private number plate

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How To Keep Your License Plate When Selling Your Car (4)

Cobus F. Potgieter

Senior Editor

After completing his studies in Public Relations Management, Cobus' career took him into writing and editing in many fields. But cars were always his obsession, especially the '80s and '90s bangers he loves so much, reciting their specifications, and always telling you what can go wrong with them if you're interested in buying a used one. Which is exactly what he now does at CarBuzz. He'll rattle on about transmission families and unreliable engines ad nauseam. He buys cars simply because he finds them mechanically quirky and interesting, which might explain why he owned a Smart, several ancient luxury sedans, and now runs a small hatchback that "corners on rails" or whatever he muttered under his breath when nobody was listening. He likes blocking the exit and regaling captive colleagues with such information - completely unsolicited.

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(Video) How to Transfer Registration Number Plate From One Car to Another Online Using DVLA Website .GOV

How To Keep Your License Plate When Selling Your Car (11)

FAQs

How do I keep my number plate when I sell my car? ›

You can apply to keep your number plate online or by post. To apply online, go to GOV's personalised vehicle registration service. The car needs to: Be registered in the UK with the DVLA.

Can I keep my registration plate? ›

As a general rule, yes you can. However, some number plates cannot be retained. For example, any number plates with the prefix Q cannot be retained.

Can I keep my personalized license plate when I sell my car in California? ›

Can I Keep the License Plates on the Vehicle? Most personalized and/or special interest license plates may remain on a vehicle being transferred if the license plate owner of record releases his/her priority.

Do I have to retain my old number plate? ›

Do I have to keep my existing registration number? No you don't. The DVLA will allocate a replacement registration number to the car when you move your personalised number to your next vehicle. If your existing registration number is just a standard one, then you may be wasting your money paying to retain it.

How long does it take to transfer a number plate from one car to another? ›

The time taken to transfer your new private number plate to your car can vary, depending on the circumstances. On average it takes around 3-5 weeks.

How long does it take to put a number plate on retention? ›

Number plate retention application can take up to 4 weeks to be processed.

How long can I retain my number plate? ›

After 10 years, you must either renew your number plate retention, or register a vehicle with the number plate.

What happens to number plate if car is scrapped? ›

What happens to my number plate if the car is written off? If your vehicle is written off, unfortunately, your number plate will be written off with it too. This is due to the specific number plate being assigned to that specific car.

Can I sell my car while waiting for number plate transfer? ›

If you are selling your car and wish to keep the number plate it currently displays, you will need to arrange to transfer the registration from the vehicle BEFORE you sell it! You can move the registration onto a certificate, or onto another vehicle. The important thing is to do this in advance of selling the car.

Can I keep my old license plate California? ›

Generally, license plates remain with the vehicle they were issued to. Certain types of plates (personalized environmental, special recognition, or special interest) can be reassigned to another vehicle upon request by the owner and payment of appropriate fees.

How do I transfer a personalized license plate in California? ›

License Plate Assignment—the following must be submitted:

A Special Interest License Plate Application (REG 17) or a Special Recognition License Plate Application (REG 17A) completed by the applicant showing reassignment of the license plates. The license plates currently assigned to the vehicle. The fees due.

How do I cancel my personalized license plate in California? ›

If you no longer wish to retain the plates, you may return them to any CA DMV field office or mail them in to: P.O. Box 942869 Sacramento Ca 94269-0001 Please include a brief note stating you no longer wish to retain plates & include your name & phone number.

Do I need to tell insurance about number plate change? ›

So when it comes to getting a new set of number plates, do you need to inform your insurer? When you are changing the registration on your vehicle - putting your private plate onto the car - you'll need to let your insurer know, so they are insuring the correct car on the road, and have a record of the vehicle.

What does putting a number plate on retention mean? ›

If you want to buy a number plate but don't have a car yet, or wish to keep a number plate to use later or sell, you can put it on retention. Instead of being used on a vehicle, your registration will be printed on a certificate that states you're entitled to use it.

Is a car still insured if you change the number plate? ›

A private number plate should not be considered a vehicle modification and your insurer should not change your premium as a result. Your insurer may charge you an admin fee for reporting a change in registration on the vehicle because they have to update their records.

Can you change ownership of a vehicle online? ›

Doing it online is a bit easier and quicker. You'll still need your V5C logbook as you need the 11 digit reference number and the new keeper slip. All you need to do is go to the gov.uk website and fill out the form to transfer ownership, and a new logbook will be sent out to the new keeper.

Do I own my private number plate? ›

Yes, whenever you change cars, you have the choice to take your personalised number plate with you. You don't have to leave it on your car. You must remove the registration number from your car before selling it. If you don't, ownership of the registration number will pass with ownership of the vehicle.

Can I put my private plate on my car straight away? ›

But don't worry, you don't have to wait over a month to use your plates; you can use your new plates straight away, once your application has been approved.

How do I transfer registration to retention? ›

How to transfer a number plate from retention certificate
  1. Guide to putting your number plate from retention onto a car. ...
  2. Have your documents ready. ...
  3. Click on the link below and follow the instructions. ...
  4. Swap your number plates. ...
  5. Tell your insurance company. ...
  6. Replacement Documents. ...
  7. Enjoy! ...
  8. Fill in the V778 Retention Document.

How long can you keep a private reg on retention? ›

Once you've got the V778 retention document then you have the rights to that personalised plate for 10 years. Just bear in mind that, even if you're not using the plate, you still have to renew the V778 after 10 years.

How long does it take to take off private number plate? ›

If you need to perform the removal by post, then you need to allow around 2 weeks for your request to be processed, and then the 4 to 6 weeks for the replacement V5C to arrive. If you have no interest in keeping the registration, then you don't have to do anything and can let the number plate go with the vehicle.

What happens if I lost my retention certificate? ›

How to Replace a Lost Retention Certificate. There is a specific process to replace a lost or stolen V750 certificate of entitlement or a lost retention document (V778). You would need to send a letter to DVLA Personalised Registrations to request a replacement.

Can I buy a number plate without a car? ›

Do I need to own a car to buy a private number plate? You can in fact purchase a private number plate without having a car to put it on.

Can I sell my number plate back to DVLA? ›

Can I sell my number plate back to the DVLA? No, It's not possible to sell your private number plate back to the DVLA. The DVLA sells cherished number plates, but only new ones. They won't buy back registrations that have already been issued to a vehicle.

What documents do I need to scrap my car? ›

Online. Using the internet to tell the DVLA you've scrapped your car is easy. You'll need the name and address of the scrapyard – even if you didn't get any money for it – the vehicle registration number and your V5C logbook.

Do I need to inform DVLA if I scrap my car? ›

You must tell DVLA if your vehicle has been written off and scrapped by your insurance company. Writing off and scrapping your vehicle is the same as selling it to your insurance company.

How does scrapping a car affect insurance? ›

When a car is scrapped, it means that the car is no longer roadworthy and cannot be driven. This is because the car is old and unfit and may not meet current safety standards. As a result, the car insurance company will see the car as a liability and will charge a higher premium.

How long does it take DVLA to transfer a number plate? ›

The DVLA estimates it takes between 4 – 6 weeks to transfer a number plate.

Where can I get a V317 form? ›

Where Can I Obtain a V317. The V317 form can be downloaded from the DVLA website.

How do I surrender my license plate in Florida? ›

WHERE TO SURRENDER A LICENSE PLATE: An owner/registrant may surrender their license plate and decal to their local tax collector's office, license plate agent or driver license office. Owners/registrants may submit the license plate and decal in person or by mail.

What do I do with my license plates when I sell my car in California? ›

Once the seller has accepted payment, make sure to take your license plates off the vehicle. From here, both parties will need to report the sale to the DMV. The seller has five days to do this, whereas the buyer has ten. Fortunately for each, this report can quickly be completed online.

What does a black license plate mean in California? ›

The black license plate with yellow lettering was used in California in the 1960s. It's the first plate to reach the minimum number of preorders needed to make it available to motorists under the state's new legacy license plate program.

What do you do with old number plates? ›

Fortunately, you're able to dispose of old or unwanted plates by recycling them. Take them to your local recycling centre and, because they're made up of plastic and acrylic, the number plates can be recycled properly in the relevant section of the site.

How much is the license plate retention fee in California? ›

If you decide to sell your car, you have a few options when handling your personalized plate. You can reassign the plate to a new car, retain your plate until you get a new vehicle (retention fees will apply- $38), or release the plate back to the DMV.

How much does it cost to have a black license plate in California? ›

The new plates, which will cost $50, can be ordered by anyone, regardless of their car's age. Black plates can be personalized, like other plates, and plates will also be available for motorcycles.

Do you need a front license plate in California? ›

Does California Require a Front License Plate? Yes, passenger vehicles registered in California must display valid license plates on both the front and back of the car.

How do I get the black California license plate? ›

Want to buy one? Mail an application with a $50 check, money order or cashier's check payable to the DMV, Special Processing Unit MS D238, P.O. Box 932345, Sacramento, CA, 94232–3450. More details about these plates can be found on the DMV website, www.dmv.gov.

Can u request black license plate in CA? ›

Currently CA has 10 Select Plates and the black license plates are the newest addition. You may be noticing them on new cars, but the good news is anyone can order these iconic plates. The new plates cost $50 and anyone can order them, regardless of your car's age.

Do I need to return CA license plates when I move out of state? ›

The owner must return them to the motor vehicle department of the state where they were issued.

Can I sell my car and retain private plate? ›

Yes, you can sell your car and keep a personalised number plate even if you're giving your car for scrap all you need is Form 778 – The Retention Certificate.

How long does it take DVLA to transfer a number plate? ›

The DVLA estimates it takes between 4 – 6 weeks to transfer a number plate.

Can I sell my number plate back to DVLA? ›

Can I sell my number plate back to the DVLA? No, It's not possible to sell your private number plate back to the DVLA. The DVLA sells cherished number plates, but only new ones. They won't buy back registrations that have already been issued to a vehicle.

How do I return license plates in Nevada? ›

Plates may be surrendered at the information counter at metropolitan offices. Surrender plates to a staff member inside the office. Do not place them in a drop box unless it specifically marked for license plates. You may cancel the registration and keep personalized or specialty plates as a souvenir.

Does a car need to be not to remove a private plate? ›

The private number plate will be removed straight away if an inspection is not deemed necessary, so you should be ready. Your vehicle must not be driven with the private number plate once the DVLA has confirmed its removal. Thus, you need to replace the plates with the new registration or you cannot use the car.

Do I own my private number plate? ›

Yes, whenever you change cars, you have the choice to take your personalised number plate with you. You don't have to leave it on your car. You must remove the registration number from your car before selling it. If you don't, ownership of the registration number will pass with ownership of the vehicle.

What happens when you remove a Personalised number plate? ›

You will be sent a new V5C in the post from the DVLA. Because a car cannot be on the road without a registration, this will show an age-related replacement registration that the DVLA have issued you.

Do I need to tell insurance about number plate change? ›

So when it comes to getting a new set of number plates, do you need to inform your insurer? When you are changing the registration on your vehicle - putting your private plate onto the car - you'll need to let your insurer know, so they are insuring the correct car on the road, and have a record of the vehicle.

Is a car still insured if you change the number plate? ›

A private number plate should not be considered a vehicle modification and your insurer should not change your premium as a result. Your insurer may charge you an admin fee for reporting a change in registration on the vehicle because they have to update their records.

Is my car still taxed if I change my number plate? ›

A car must be taxed to transfer a private number plate to it. If your vehicle is not taxed, we can apply for tax at the same time as transfering your personalised number plate to it - do both things together.

Do number plates go up in value? ›

Like anything in life, the value can sometimes go down as well as up. Even if it does go up, you are not likely to see its value rise quickly, so you need to be prepared to wait a number of years or possibly even for decades.

What is the world's most expensive number plate? ›

The most expensive licence plate in the world in terms of listed value is the California MM, selling for $24.3 million. This sale price includes an NFT that is laser-inscribed onto the back of the plate. The highest price paid for a plate that was actually sold was $9.5 million for plate D5 in Dubai.

Can I sell my number plate on DVLA auction? ›

In a word, no, you can't sell your number plate back to the DVLA. The DVLA issue new registrations for vehicles and also hold/sell the stock of all cherished registrations that have never been issued to a vehicle before, but they have no interest in buying registrations.

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