Special paperwork!

DVLA specialise in this crap...

(FOI request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cost_of_unnecessarily_producing)

I redacted a few small parts, but this is the form you get for a new number plate.

So, a few points...
  • Stupid background, which makes it harder to read. Seriously, scanning and printing this level of crap is not hard, people can do that if they want, it is no deterrent to fraud now.
  • Printing stuff in some boxes twice in different fonts, sorry, is that hard? Is there really any point.
  • You can do it all on-line. I.e. if you have the information on the form, you can submit the assignment on line. If you don't then you cannot print a form that DVLA would accept when sent to them, no matter how fancy.
Seriously what is the point in this being so pointlessly "fancy". If anything it just makes it harder for people to read.

Why can they not go for plain, black on white, clear, easy to read, information for their customers.


  1. The Vogons at the DVLA will never see your point.

  2. They might not bother to reply as a) The cost to reply in gathering the information might be deemed disproportionate to the information requested or b) it is classed as a "vexatious" inquiry.

  3. I'm fairly sure that the weird backdrop is actually detected by machinery in the print engine, and printing is either refused, or comes out intentionally degraded. (Back in the day it was configured like that to prevent colour photocopying, though.)

    (Try it and see? :) )

    1. Bank notes have a pattern to do that and it can be done with a few subtle yellow dots not this monstrosity. However my scanner and printer like many have no issue at al with bank notes of this. My point is that it Is just the information printed that matters in any way as you can simply do this on-line without submitting the form. Similarly, unlike the 1950s, if you sent DVLA a forged form they won’t just accept it and action it, they’ll be typing or scanning those details in to a computer and that work unless it is the details from the genuine form that has not yet been used, etc. There is no point in this crap now.

    2. Oh, agreed, this is almost certainly only here as a historical curiosity and because it's more than anyone's job is worth to try messing with a security precaution which at one point served a purpose but all the people who knew exactly what it was have retired or moved on or are sealed behind curtains of official secrecy and what do you think your job *is* anyway, you're supposed to be processing DVLA forms!

  4. Replies
    1. Nice concise comment. How exactly does it achieve that. What fraud would be possible if simply printed black on white on plane paper. I am curious to know.

  5. Be very careful. The whole personal/cherished plates system is a complete mess of the DVLA's making. The problems:

    1) if you buy a plate that is not currently on a vehicle and is held only on a retention certificate then DVLA will not change the name of the owner of the plate. The certificate will still be in the seller's name and you as buyer will just be listed as someone who CAN put it on to a vehicle, but not someone who owns it. Years later, thinking you own the plate, you could go to put it on a vehicle and find that the previous owner re-sold it and DVLA allowed this as you had not yet exercised your right to put it on a vehicle so DVLA still had it down as owned by the person who sold it to you XX years before.

    2) if you want to eliminate that risk then the only way to get your name listed on the DVLA paperwork as the plate owner is to put the plate onto a car and then immediately take it off again whilst specifying on the "take it off again" form who the new plate owner should be. DVLA will then issue a retention certificate in your own name. If neither the seller nor buyer of the plate have such a vehicle available then changing the name of the plate owner can't be done

    3) if you put your own plate onto someone else's car (employer's company car / boyfriend's car, etc.) then DVLA consider that the registered keeper of that car now owns that plate and you as true owner lose all rights to that plate from that moment on. DVLA will allow the employer/boyfriend to sell that plate without any reference to you. Never put a plate on a vehicle unless you are the registered keeper of that vehicle.

    4) if your car is written off, your insurer will be wise to this and will try to steal the plate using this method as soon as they become the registered keeper - get the plate taken off the car before the agreement to settle the claim and write off is made and before you sign over the car (or it's remains) to the insurer

    All this is so simple to fix. It just needs an ownership/title system for the plates.

    And I don't own a personal plate yet - this is all just stuff I found from looking into it last month.

    1. Wow, some interesting points. This is a new number issued by DVLA with James as purchaser, so we are OK on some of them. But worth watching out for the insurance one at least.

    2. Your point 1 actually highlights my point well. In that scenario you have a bit of paper saying you are the nominee for the plate. But it does not matter how fancy or authentic that bit of paper is, it means bugger all if computer says no, as the plate has now been assigned to someone else.

    3. Numberplates are in many ways a lot like domains - you don't ever actually own them; you're just granted an entitlement to use them by a central registrar, and only as long as you obey all the rules. At least numberplates don't have a recurring annual fee!

      But this does mean that there are various circumstances in which you can lose them, such as those given above.

      You also need to be extra diligent with things like tax and MOT. If those expire and then the car is stolen or written off in some way then you're screwed - you can't transfer a plate off an untaxed car, and you can't tax a car that has no MOT, and a written off or lost car can't pass an MOT.

      It used to be that you couldn't transfer a plate off a car with no MOT anyway, but these days I think it just has to be taxed.

      Oh and you can lose them if you're repeatedly stopped by the police for displaying them in an improper way.

    4. IMO, points 1, 2, and 3 are not problems, they are actually beneficial - we should not have people engaging in "number plate squatting" (like we do with domain squatting). Having to put a plate on a car to avoid losing "ownership" of it is a good thing because it ensure the plate actually gets used. Having to jump through the hoops of putting a plate on a car then taking it off again to change the name on the retention certificate is a good thing as it discourages holding on to retention certificates needlessly. Losing rights to the plate if you put a plate on someone else's vehicle makes sense so that the registered keeper always has rights to the plates on their vehicles and can't end up in a situation where e.g. some conman ends up owning the plate on your vehicle and charges a disproportionate amount to give it back.

      As for point 4 this could be easily solved by regulation to ensure that insurers must allow including a clause to "transfer the plate to another vehicle in the policyholder's name" in the settlement agreement and that (when a claim is made and being settled) they actively encourage customers with personalised plates to include this clause.

      Honestly I wish the rules for domain names were more like these rules for number plates (i.e. point your domain at an actual website or service that you can prove serves some use, or have it taken away; more simply put, use it or lose it).

    5. Oooh, I definitely don't agree on some of that. If you don't want squatting, make the "certificate of entitlement" have one year timeout not 10, and costly renewal. What is wrong with the current system is that you have a "certificate" it says "entitlement", and actually you are not entitled, having paid good money for the plate. That is misleading and very wrong.

      Also, you seem to forget that "keeper" and "owner" are not the same person. Why would the "keeper" have more (in fact total) right to a plate on a car that I own? Surely the obvious thing is for the person that pays for the plate to have a persisting right to it (subject to some rules, such as put it on a car), and be able to cleanly transfer that right to a new purchaser if they want. As we don't record "owner" of vehicles, we could perhaps record "owners" of plates, why not?

      And finally, for domains, what makes you think a domain has anything whatsoever to do with a "web site" or even a "service". Bear in mind almost all "parked" domains do point to a web site, one that tries to sell you the domain, so even your suggestion would not actually help.

      A debate on "domain" or "plate" squatting is one thing, and an interesting matter.

      But making the systems for management of either deliberately misleading and "broken" in order to enforce an anti-squatting policy is simply not the way to do it. Make a clear policy and clear costs that discourage squatting instead. IMHO

  6. The worst scenario involves both point (3) and (4) combined. You own a plate worth £10k. Perhaps it was your great grandfather's original plate on some 1920 classic, but is now something very special. You put your plate on a company car which is actually a lease car so the car has ABC Leasing as registered keeper and not My Employer Ltd as registered keeper. Car is written off. No problem - I'll just switch my plate back to either my own car, or my wife's car, or just hold it on a paper certificate for a few weeks until my new company car arrives. The fleet coordinator at My Employer Ltd refers you to ABC who own the car and handle everything to do with the scrapped car other than putting fuel in it. ABC Leasing aren't interested in talking to you about getting your plate back - they are so huge and have 18 different layers of management and 4 different call centres. Plus even if you do get hold of someone who understands this stuff they have no legal obligation to return your plate. On the day that you put that plate onto their lease car, they became the legal owner of that plate. You are in a rush to do it as you aren't the vehicle owner so can't control when the car is signed over to the insurer for settlement and scrapping. ABC Leasing then either nicks the plate and sells it themselves or, more likely, just signs over car AND IT'S PLATE to Big Insurance Corp without even thinking. Who then sell your plate for £10k. And all when you owned the plate. But DVLA allow the insurer to do this.

    1. In practice though these days everything is done electronically so holding the V5 is irrelevant.

      If the car is leased and the registered keeper is the leasing company then while they'd hold the V5 you would have been given a copy of it since you'd need it for example if you drove to Europe.

      You'd therefore do the transfer online and get the plate back the instant the car was involved in the accident/theft. You'd contact the leasing company immediately to tell them that you had transferred your cherished plate off the car and that you would be fitting new plates to it with the replacement VRM.

      Sure, technically you might have misrepresented things slightly on the online form, but the reality is that nobody is going to come after you and nobody has made a loss for which they need to be compensated.

  7. Indeed keeper and owner are not the same. A child can win a car in a competition. The child owns it. The parent agrees to be registered keeper. The parent does not own it.

    "You'd therefore do the transfer online and get the plate back the instant the car was involved in the accident/theft. You'd contact the leasing company immediately to tell them that you had transferred your cherished plate off the car".

    Certainly that isn't legal - you aren't the RK nor the legal holder of that plate (you should be if the system were designed right, but it isn't). Leasing company could pop up and object. Indeed by the current process I would think they *should* object. Someone is stealing their asset. I'd imagine the process involves a formal DVLA letter going to the RK's address to verify transfer is not the plate equivalent of "slamming".

    Whether it's morally right - maybe it is, but it ain't legal.

    Most police vehicles are owned by the police force or its governing police authority. But the registered keeper normally shows as the Chief Constable him/herself. (Those must be amusing speeding tickets that get sent to registered keeper.)

    I remembered the fifth problem:

    5) if you decide to run the risk of keeping your newly acquired plate on a certificate but still in the seller's name, then if after 10 years you have not put the plate on a vehicle (which is perfectly legal) the certificate will need to be renewed. Only the person named on the cert can do this: that's the seller. Chances of finding the seller? Could be dead, too ill, moved to Mongolia, in prison, changed name, gone bust (if it's a business name on the cert). And if you do manage to find the seller again what are the chances of him/her agreeing to faff about again over something he sold you 10 years ago for a few hundred quid? Nil. Or if it were a friend or family member they may have fallen out with you and simply refuse to help. High risk keeping a plate on a certificate not in your own name.

  8. Surely the point is that at one time it was difficult to duplicate this kind of certificate, so at the time there was some value in going to the effort. Times have moved on and obviously this no longer applies, but rather than waste taxpayers money changing the system for the sake of it, they've stuck with what they've got as that's the cheaper option and the best use of taxpayer money (although there's an argument that this is actually an income stream for DVLA, rather than a drain on resources).

    Rather than commend them not wasting money, what you appear to have done is made them waste taxpayers money by asking them to justify this?

    1. I'm not convinced the FoI letter could be deemed too expensive to respond to nor vexatious. Taking the three questions, namely:

      "1. How many documents does DVLA issue per year that are printed on special paper or backgrounds."

      Should be two clicks for them to answer this question. Even if they can't answer it precisely (and it would have to be asked why they can't), they ought to be able to answer it to the nearest thousand or so.

      "2. How much more do these cost than normal printing black on white on plain paper."

      Again, ought to be easy to pull out of their accounts system the cost of the deluxe paper per thousand or 10,000 or 100,000 sheets and then compare that to the cost of the same number of thousand sheets of bog-standard loo-roll-grade A4 paper from any bulk stationery supplier.

      "3. Which of these documents do DVLA consider to be documents that someone may need to accept on "face value" without checking the underlying details on-line or by other means, and as such the "special printing / paper" may be justified?"

      Shouldn't be expensive to answer that question. It's subjective though rather than factual so they may decline to give an opinion as they may be giving an opinion on security matters they would rather not discuss publicly.

  9. Another wrinkle with putting a plate on a vehicle, cannot be done if the vehicle has been sold to a motor trader. You have to wait for the new V5 to come in the post in your name before you can transfer your plate on.

    This means two sets of phone calls to the insurance company, one to set up your policy on the cars existing plate and another to change the registration. Some insurers charge for changes after a policy comes into force.

    At the very least it causes them mass confusion. First the policy was for the old vehicle with our reg, then transferred to a new vehicle with a different reg, then changed to the new vehicle bearing the original reg. Not surprisingly their little heads exploded and I ended up with the policy referring to the type of the old vehicle. Cue yet another set of phone calls...

    Even after I got the V5 I was not allowed to put the plate on using the online system and was redirected to live chat. The operator had a look and said that the system refused it because the vehicle hadn't been taxed for over 6 months (sitting on the dealer's lot). She said she'd fix it and sure enough two days later a V5 arrived bearing the new reg.

    Its fine for DVLA to step away from dealing with ownership issues for vehicles (keeper not owner) but there is a clear conflict of interest when they earn a nice income from sale of un-issued plates but there are so many strings attached that could prevent the 'owner' from gaining the benefit of of what they have paid for.

  10. Great post I liked it. Thanks for sharing with us.


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