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Personalising your lease car

 Published 20th October 2021
Driver Guides  General Guides 

It doesn't really matter what particular car you're leasing. We all get that same excitement when the brand-new car you've been waiting for arrives, and it finally becomes yours.

For some people – actually, quite a lot of people – part of the process of personalising their new car is to add a private registration plate. There are literally millions of them on the road, and millions more available to purchase from DVLA . Most may look like regular registration numbers, but they hold some significance to someone.

If you drive a lease car you can still use those personalised number plates, but the process of transferring them is a little bit more complicated. You can still put a private plate on a lease car, however, because the car technically isn't owned by you, there are a few extra steps that you need to take before you can screw the number plate onto your shiny new car.

First, you'll need to get permission from the finance company who leased you the car as they are the registered keeper of the vehicle. Once they've agreed that you can change the number plates on the car, you will need to arrange to send them the relevant documents.

Most finance companies won't really have an issue with you changing the registration plates as long as it's done properly, but don't be surprised if they take the opportunity to charge you an admin fee for the privilege. On top of the £80 fee DVLA charges, it might end up costing you £100 or so to add a private plate to your lease car, but overall, it's not massively expensive.

Technically, the car belongs to the finance provider, so you'll need to fill in the DVLA forms (we'll come to those in a moment) and add/change the Nominee to the finance company. This just means that they are entitled to use the DVLA registration for the duration of your lease agreement. This can be done online or by post.

Once the DVLA has assigned the new registration number to your vehicle, they will send the paperwork back to you and you can fit your new number plates. If you fit them before the DVLA has written back with confirmation, you could receive a fine so don't be impatient. It can take up to six weeks for DVLA to process the transfer, so you'll need to curb your excitement a little.

What about the forms then?

That depends on the particular situation you find yourself in, and where the private registration is currently being “stored”.

If you've just bought brand-new number plates from DVLA you'll need to fill out your V750 . This is the document that shows that the registration number you've purchased has never been used, and that you are entitled to use it. That's relatively straightforward.

If your number plate has previously been registered to another car, or it's still attached to another car and you need to transfer it, you'll need to fill out a different form.

Transferring a vehicle registration plate

A V317 form needs to be completed when you want to transfer a vehicle registration directly from one car to another. Depending on your finance company you might not be able to do a direct transfer from an existing car to your new one. You won't know until you ask, but if they say no it just means you need a different form.

If you can't transfer the plate directly you need to get a V778 instead. This removes the plates from a previous car and holds them in retention until you want to attach it to a new car. You still own the registration number, it's just the DVLA equivalent of placing it on file until it's needed again. Once the plate is in retention it can then be transferred to the lease car.

Transferring a vehicle registration plate

At the end of the lease period, you are obviously required to give the car back, but you'll probably want to keep your private number plates for your next car. That means repeating the whole process in reverse.

Six weeks before your lease is due to finish, you should contact your finance provider. They can organise to have your V317 form sent to the DVLA, along with the vehicle's logbook, which is held on their file as the registered keeper.

Once all the documentation has been processed, the DVLA will send the finance provider a new logbook showing the vehicle's original registration number as well as a V778 retention document which should be issued back to you. If you want to reissue your plates to another car in the future, you can then use that V778 document to do so - so keep it safe.

It's actually quite a simple procedure to get yourself a personalised plate and transfer it to your vehicle. It might take up a few weeks to process, but the forms are straightforward, and the process is well established. And at the end of it you've really personalised your lease car and made it yours.

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