This guide has been produced in conjunction with the DVLA Used Vehicle Industry Group and representatives of the Motor Industry including NFDA.
Trade licence plates can save you time and money if you’re in the motor industry – you won’t have to register and tax every vehicle temporarily in your possession.
You need to apply to DVLA for a trade licence to be able to use trade plates.
Who is eligible?
You can apply for a trade licence if you’re either a motor dealer, trader or a vehicle tester.
You sell or supply vehicles, that is, a new or used car dealer.
This includes manufacturers or repairers of vehicles, including those involved in collection and delivery of vehicles.
You’re eligible if you test other people’s vehicles on the public roads.
Using trade licence plates
You can only use trade plates for vehicles temporarily in your possession for testing,
trialling, demonstrating, delivering or dismantling.
A manufacturer can use trade plates on a vehicle, kept and registered in their name,
only for research and development purposes.
When you cannot use a trade licence plate
If you own or register a vehicle then normal vehicle tax rules apply. As the registered keeper you must tax any vehicle you use and this includes demonstrations or test drives and if it’s used by your employees.
Trade plates cannot be used on:
• any vehicles registered in your name as the registered keeper is legally responsible for taxing a vehicle being used or kept on the public road (see page 5 ‘Transferring your vehicles into your trade stock’)
• stock vehicles used by employees for personal or private business use
• unroadworthy vehicles as these vehicles must be transported (all vehicles used on
the public road must be insured and have a current MOT, unless exempt).
You can only drive an untaxed vehicle on a public road to or from a pre-booked MOT or other testing appointment.
How to display trade licence plates
Display your trade plate:
• with numbers and letters in a vertical position (see below) and make sure you
can read the plate from a distance of between 18 to 22 metres
• anywhere on the outside of the vehicle, make sure you can see it and it’s in an
upright position on the front and rear of the vehicle.
• on the rear only for motorcycles.
• display the plate inside the vehicle
• cover the vehicle’s existing number plates (except motorcycles).
The onus is on you, the motor dealer, trader or vehicle tester to make sure that you meet these requirements. Failure to display trade plates correctly is an offence.
Transferring your vehicle into your trade stock or telling DVLA you’ve transferred a vehicle into the trade
When you transfer a vehicle to your sale stock while waiting for a prospective buyer, tell DVLA you’ve transferred your vehicle into the trade.
It’s quick and simple to tell DVLA online at:
Or you can fill in the yellow ‘sell, transfer or part-exchange your vehicle to the motor trade’ section from the V5C log book and send it to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BD. You’ll no longer be registered as the keeper and the vehicle will be notified as transferred out of your business, or to another section of your business, as trade stock for sale.
The trade plates can then be used to test drive the vehicle by a prospective buyer.
Remember, the vehicle cannot be used by a motor dealer or employee for personal or private use when it is registered in your vehicle stock. It must only stay with the motor dealer as a vehicle for sale.
Selling a vehicle
When you sell a vehicle you must tell DVLA. It’s quick and simple to tell DVLA the new keeper’s details online at:
You will get immediate confirmation that your request has been processed. Or you can fill in the V5C log book and send it to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BA. Give the green ‘new keeper’ slip to the new keeper. The buyer must tax the vehicle before driving it, or declare that it’s off the road, a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). The tax is not transferred when the vehicle is sold.
Vehicles transferred into stock It’s good practice to check the vehicle tax and SORN status when a vehicle is taken into stock.
You can find out online at www.gov.uk/check-vehicle-tax
If a seller has registered a SORN, advise them to tell DVLA that they’ve sold their vehicle into your trade.
You can do this on their behalf online at: www.gov.uk/sold-bought-vehicle
You will get immediate confirmation that your request has been processed.
Or you can fill in the yellow ‘sell, transfer or part-exchange your vehicle to the motor trade’ section from the V5C log book and send to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BD.
Return of trade plates
If you do not intend to renew your trade licence you must fill in form VTL308 to surrender your trade licence to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1DZ. The front and rear trade plates should also be sent to the above address on expiry of the trade licence. If the trade plates are not available you must tell DVLA the reason why.
For more information on trade plates go to: www.gov.uk/tradelicence-plates