Can You Put A Private Plate On A Lease Car?

There are more than 50 million registered private plates (also known as personalised or cherished plates) in the UK and you’ll be pleased to know that you can use your custom plate on a lease car, as long as you get permission from your finance provider to do so.

But how does this process work? Read our guide below to find out everything you need to know about private plates on lease cars.

What is a private plate?

private plate

A private plate is a unique number plate chosen by the driver that is transferable between vehicles. Private plates have become an incredibly lucrative business in their own right and many celebrities and individuals sport private plates on their beloved cars.

By buying a custom plate you are buying the rights to use that plate on a vehicle, as long as it follows the DVLA guidelines.

How do you add a private plate to a lease car?

Follow the steps outlined below and you’ll be adding your private plate to your lease car in no time.

  1. Obtain permission from your provider since they are the registered owner and keeper of the vehicle.
  2. Add your provider as a nominee on your Certificate of Entitlement. This can be done online or by post, and instructions on how to do so can be found on the reverse of the document.
  3. Send your provider the certificate, along with a brief cover letter and cheque payable to the DVLA for the cost of assigning the number plate. (It is also likely that your provider will charge you an admin fee, so make sure you find out who and how much to pay if applicable).
  4. Having received your documents, your provider will send you an acknowledgement of receival before sending the documents onto the DVLA to process the transfer.
  5. The DVLA will then assign the registration number to the vehicle and send you the necessary documents when enable you to update the vehicle’s number plates.

Remember: It is not possible to put a private plate on your vehicle prior to delivery since it will have a registered plate already. Moreover, it is illegal to add the plates to a vehicle before both the funder and the DVLA have given you confirmation to do so.

How do you remove a private plate from a lease car?

number plates

Similar to the process of adding a plate, the process to remove one also requires documentation to be sent to the DVLA via your finance provider. This time however, they will need to send the DVLA a ‘transfer or retain a vehicle registration’ form on your behalf, as well as the vehicle’s log book which is held by the provider and a cheque to cover the transfer fee supplied by yourself.

Even if you don’t wish to keep your private plates at the end of your contract, it is likely that your provider will require you to change the plates back to the originals. As such, it is recommended that you contact your provider at least six weeks prior to your contract end to arrange the removal of your private plate. This is because the DVLA advises that it can take up to six weeks to complete the transfer and it can take up to two weeks before the documentation is sent following a successful transfer.

Remember: it is your responsibility to pay any fees and to make sure that that the vehicle is being returned with the correct number plates that reflect the changes in registration.

What are the DVLA guidelines?

Due to the traditional nature of number plate registration, there are guidelines in place to ensure that only valid number plates are used to prevent potentially malicious or inappropriate behaviour. These are outlined below:

  • You cannot assign a plate beginning with ‘Q’ or ‘NIQ’
  • You cannot assign a plate to a ‘Q’ registered vehicle
  • You cannot assign a plate that makes the vehicle look newer than it is i.e. you can’t use an 07 plate on an 03 vehicle.

Moreover, the DVLA annually bans numerous plates that it deems rude or offensive and while some registrations may slip through on the short term, they may be retrospectively banned in the future. Therefore it is advised that you stick to family friendly registrations when searching for your dream plate to avoid it being taken away from you in the future.

Remember: if your plate doesn’t meet the guidelines, it won’t be valid and will be deemed illegal. This means you could lose the right to use your number plate and may be fined £1000.

How do you buy a private plate?

With a growing market of over £2 billion annually, private plates have become incredibly popular since their inception in 1989 and there are three ways you can buy one: online, via auction and from private sellers. Each method offers its own advantages and which one is right for you depends on whether or not the number plate you are looking for is currently available.

1. Buying online

The DVLA runs an online personalisation registration system that allows you to search their ever-growing catalogue of private number plates and are the go-to site for online purchasing. This is great if you’re looking to buy an unclaimed plate i.e. a number plate that no one currently owns the rights to. You can access the DVLA’s registration catalogue here.

2. Auctions

The DVLA also runs auctions for previously registered plates that are being sold by their owners. Auctions typically start at around £130 and there are numerous auctions each year. All lots are shown in advance so you know what you’re bidding on and you can bid in person, over the phone, in writing or online.

Auctions can be a good way of getting a claimed number plate cheaper than negotiating a private sale, however, it’s also worth keeping in mind that auctions can also lead to a higher than market price if you get caught in a bidding war with another buyer.

3. Private sale

It is also possible to buy number plates from private sellers or from listing sites where a company acts as an intermediary between buyer and seller. This can be more expensive than purchasing from the DVLA or by auction, but this may be the only way to find the plate you’re looking for i.e. if your desired plate has already been claimed by someone else.

Once you’ve bought your registration you will usually be sent a V750 or Certificate of Entitlement which is used to assign the registration to a vehicle. However, in a private sale the seller might transfer the registration to your vehicle for you. If they do, you need to ensure that your finance provider is marked as a nominee since you don’t own the vehicle. As such, it is recommended that they send you the V750 / Certificate of Entitlement, so that you can ensure everything is sorted out correctly.

Remember: The Certificate of Entitlement does come with an expiry date, so make sure to register your plate before it expires if you intend to use it.

How do you get your private plates made?

Once you have the rights to your private number plate, it is your responsibility to get your plates made and to ensure that they meet the legal requirements as set by the DVLA. If your plate is believed to be illegal, you will face a fine of £1000 and your vehicle will fail it’s MOT if you drive with illegal plates. As such, it’s worth ensuring that the following guidelines are met:

  • be made from a reflective material
  • display black characters on a white background (front plate)
  • display black characters on a yellow background (rear plate)
  • not have a background pattern
  • characters must be 79mm tall
  • characters (except the number 1 or letter I) must be 50mm wide
  • the character stroke must be 14mm
  • the space between characters must be 11mm
  • the space between the age identifier and the random letters must be 33mm
  • the margins at the top, bottom and side of the plate must be 11mm
  • vertical space between the age identifier and the letters must be 19mm.

To make sure that your registration meets these guidelines we recommend using a registered supplier, all of whom can be found using the government’s supplier search. In order to produce your number plates, a supplier will require proof of ownership which comes in the form of proof of name and address e.g. your driving license, and proof that you are allowed to use the registration e.g. the Certificate of Entitlement.

Remember: as the lease driver, it is your responsibility to pay for any manufacturing costs (which vary in price) and ensure that the number plates change to reflect the change in registration.

Do you still have questions regarding the do’s and don’ts of car leasing or what is and isn’t possible with a lease car? Well check out our handy guide page for all our answers to your FAQs. Or if you’re ready to begin your search, use our manufacturer, price and deal searches to find your dream personal or business lease deal.

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