Can You Change A Number Plate On A Leased Car?

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 number 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.
 

Other related FAQs

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You must inform the DVLA if you wish to remove your personalised number plate and replace it with the car’s original plate. It costs £80 to remove personalised plates and this can be done online or by post.

Acquiring a private plate won’t mean your car insurance goes up, but you’ll need to inform your insurer of the plate change and should ask for a letter confirming they have no interest in your private plate.

To find out the registered keeper of a vehicle number plate here in the UK, apply in writing to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). However, it will only provide these details if you have a reasonable cause.

A number plate’s value varies according to how desirable and unusual it is. A number plate featuring a name, word or initials that a lot of people want is likely to fetch a higher price.

You can discover certain information about the vehicle that a number plate is on fairly simply, but to find out who it actually belongs to is a little more tricky. Your best port of call is the DVLA.

A simple transfer from one vehicle to another can be completed online with the DVLA and you can make the switch as soon as you've finished the process. Organising it by post takes longer – expect two to five weeks.

Personalised number plates can be a good investment as they nearly always retain their value and often increase in price. Investing in these plates is not risk free though, so it shouldn’t be undertaken without careful research.

The process of removing a personalised number plate from a vehicle will differ depending on whether you want to save the number plate for future use, sell it on, or immediately reassign it to another vehicle.

Much like a personalised or cherished number plate in any other part of the UK, all personalised number plates in Northern Ireland must be registered with the DVLA in Swansea. This system has been in place since 2014.

Having an illuminated number plate is a legal requirement, so it's important that you replace your number plate bulb if it fails. This a simple process which anyone can complete, and replacement bulbs are readily available in shops and online.