Drivers with personalised plates on retention could lose the right to use them if they don’t ensure their paperwork is up to date soon.

A major change regarding certificates of entitlement (V750) and retention documents (V778) is coming into force on December 18. These documents allow a personalised number plate to be kept while it is not attached or assigned to a vehicle – the V750 is used by the DVLA for the first issue of a personalised registration, whereas the V778 is for retained registrations that have previously been used. Both have historically been valid for one, two or three years from the date of issue but from March 9 2015, they became valid for 10 years and can be extended free of charge.

Currently, if your V750 or V778 has expired, you can buy the right to use a private registration number again if you got the V750 or V778 before March 9 2015 and it expired on or after May 1 2011. It costs £25 for each year that the certificate has expired, with any time under one year costing the same as a full year.

However, after December 18, DVLA will no longer renew out of date certificates meaning that they will effectively become worthless and unusable. With some personalised plates changing hands for six-figure sums, this could have significant implications.

The DVLA has said that if entitlement to a plate is allowed to lapse that plate will not be reissued to the previous keeper or anyone else and will simply disappear from use. The message is therefore one of haste – if your certificate has expired, get it renewed now.