Many people now get their cars through lease agreements, and although they don’t own their vehicles outright, they may still want to personalise their cars with distinctive number plates that contain words or numbers of significance to them. You can change the number plate on a leased car to a personalised one, but you need to follow the correct process. If you have previously put personalised numbers on a car you own, you’ll find the procedure for leased cars a little different.
Getting your documents in order
You need to own the personalised number plate, for a start, and have the correct documents establishing that you are the owner. If you buy a vehicle registration plate at an online auction, online car number dealer, or the DVLA, you will receive a retention document form (V778), which you will need for the plate to be transferred to your name. If you have taken off your existing licence plate, you should already have a retention document.
Once you have the retention document, if your new lease car has not been delivered yet, give the document to the car dealer who will arrange for the number to be assigned to the car. Delivery may be delayed as the process can take a few weeks.
If you have already taken delivery of the lease car, you need to arrange for new plates to be made and fitted. First, let your lease company know that you want to change the number plates and send them the retention document. They will start the process of assigning the new number to your car. They will charge a fee for this to cover administration costs and DVLA charges. The process may take several weeks, but you can continue to drive the car with its existing number plates in the meantime.
As soon as the number has been changed, you need to arrange to have new plates made and fitted. You can buy plates from a company that makes them and fit them yourself, or a garage will do it for you. Either way, remember that you must inform your insurance company about the change.
What happens at the end of the lease period?
Near the end of the lease contract, you must arrange to have the number plate taken off the vehicle. This is best done about six weeks before the contract end date as the process takes a while. You need to tell the finance provider, first and foremost, who will ask you for your signature on a letter or form confirming that you want to remove the plates. You will also need to pay the provider an amount to cover their administration costs and DVLA fees.
The DVLA will normally reassign the original registration number to the car. As soon as the lease company informs you that this has been done, you must immediately take off the licence plate from the car and attach plates with the newly assigned DVLA number.
You are then entitled to put your personalised number on a new car, or you can hold onto it. Your ownership rights of a number that’s not assigned to a car last for ten years, but you can renew ownership after this period. You are also entitled to sell the number, and you may find that it has changed in price since you bought it – hopefully upwards.