What happens to private number plate car written off?

private number plate when car write-off

My car is a write-off. What happens to my private number plate?


Check this guide and act quickly before you lose the registration number.


No one likes to think about the possibility of having an motor accident. But we all know they happen. And sometimes the damage to the vehicle is not economical to repair. So the car is declared as written off.

If you have an accident, your car insurance company may decide to write off your car. That means that your insurer has decided your vehicle is beyond economical repair. The car insurance company then agrees a pay-out with you. Once that’s settled, your insurance company now owns the vehicle. And the company can dispose of the vehicle as they wish – either by selling it as salvage or having it scrapped.

If your car is sold on, the new purchaser could repair it and put it back on the road.....

So what happens to my private number plate?

Be warned…. act quickly, and make sure you follow the rules set out by the DVLA. Or you run the real risk of losing your cherished registration!

As the registration ‘belongs’ to the vehicle, the ownership of the registration number transfers to the insurance company. And then on to the new owner. Or it just gets scrapped with the car.

Unless you act first.

Don't lose your private number plate

What do you need to do to make sure you don't lose your private number plate when your car is written off? If you have the rights to a personal registration number, that’s all you own – the rights to it. If your car is deemed a write off, you must apply to retain the registration number. Make sure that

  1. Your insurer has not sold or scrapped the vehicle
  2. The vehicle is available to the DVLA for inspection
  3. You can meet all the DVLA criteria to transfer your number plate to another vehicle or retain your number plate (i.e. place it on a number plate retention document). DVLA fees apply.


If your vehicle is being written-off, ask your insurance company:

  1. if you can transfer or retain your personalised registration
  2. for a copy of the engineer’s report - this explains why your vehicle is no longer registered

Use a DVLA V317 form to apply, and put the registration number on retention.

Act quickly

It’s really important you talk to your car insurance company immediately about your private number plate. Do it as soon as they advise you that they plan to write the car off.

Agree what happens with your insurance company, and make sure you have this in writing. Do this before the company disposes of your car.

Or you could lose your registration number. Once the vehicle is sold on or scrapped, the DVLA rules are very clear….you will lose your private number plate!

Disclaimer: This information is for your guidance only. It is not intended as a definitive guide or a formal contract. You should refer to the DVLA for full rules and regulations.

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