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Number Plate Law

Rules for the transfer, assignment and retention of UK registration number plates

See also: Law and guidance for the display of UK Number Plates

Familiarise yourself with the government's protocols for the transferring of UK registration numbers and physical display of the actual number plates.

The transfer and retention law is broken up into the following sections below. Please take your time to read through. If you are unclear with or have any queries relating to the law of registration number plates please get in touch with us via our dedicated contact page or email us at contact@platemaster.com It will be a pleasure to help you.

Rights to registration marks following vehicles being written-off, stolen and not recovered or scrapped.

Insurance write offs. The rights to the vehicle and consequently the registration mark assigned to it will belong to the insurance company following the settlement of a claim for a vehicle write off. Therefore, the transfer or retention of a personalised registration must be arranged in sufficient time before the claim is concluded and the vehicle scrapped. The Department of Transport may also request the vehicle is made available for inspection and may also ask for an insurer’s technical report.

In the event of a write off, it is important to let the insurers know when the personal registration number has been transferred or retained and to send them the updated V5 registration document (this will show the replacement registration mark). Should they wish to sell the vehicle for salvage, it is a legal requirement that vehicle displays its current registration number. See note below.

Stolen and not recovered. For vehicles stolen and not recovered it is important to follow proper procedure to protect the rights to personalised registration numbers. Applications to have a registration mark retained or re-assigned to a replacement vehicle, will be accepted provided that the theft was reported to the police and that the DVLA have recorded the vehicle as not recovered for at least twelve months. In addition, the vehicle must have had valid tax (or be tax exempt) and have had a valid MOT (if applicable) at the time of the theft.

Along with a transfer application, it will be necessary to submit evidence that the insurers have no objection to the transfer / retention the vehicle’s registration number. This is principally for the reason that if the vehicle is recovered after the claim is settled, insurers inherit the legal rights to the vehicle and therefore the registration mark assigned to it at the time. See note below.

Vehicle scrapping. If the disposal of your vehicle has been authorized, then in principle, the vehicle will cease to exist and accordingly the registration mark assigned to it will be deleted from the DVLA’s register. It would then no longer be recoverable. Therefore, it must be arranged to have a personal registration number transferred or retained, in sufficient time before a vehicle is scrapped. There exists an obligation to notify the DVLA and return to them the V5 registration document following the vehicle’s disposal.

Note: It would be prudent to advise insurers at the outset if a vehicle has been assigned a personalised number plate. In particular, they should be made aware of any intension to retain a vehicle’s registration mark in the event of theft, write-offs or scrapping and that it may be necessary to make a vehicle available for inspection by the department of transport (for write-offs).

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