Can You Put A Private Number Plate On A Lease Car?

Can You Put A Private Number Plate On A Lease Car?

Private plates have been around since the early days of motoring in the UK, and roughly 400,000 are sold every year. There are many reasons drivers opt for a personalised plate, but one consideration is whether you are even allowed to change the registration plate if your car is on finance or lease.  

With around 20-30% of new cars being leased, we’ve put together this guide to help you, covering the legalities, process, and costs. 

What Is A Private Number Plate? 

Regular number plates are assigned to a car when first registered, they follow one of the 4 set styles, depending on the vehicle's year of manufacture. Private number plates make use of this to allow the driver to personalise their vehicle. 

Private number plates can be used to display various things, the most common uses are names or variations of, initials, birth years or even sports teams. Many private plates are bought by companies to add brand identity to their signwritten cars or vans. 

Types of Number Plates In The UK 

Number plate styles change every so often, usually because the format has run out of variations for displaying the registration year. Below are the four types of plate format. 

Dateless Number Plates 

The most commonly used for private plates, these were used before registration plates started to include the year, in 1963. Because there is no need for conveying a year, they can be as short as two characters.  

Plate “F1” is one example of this, and was last sold for over £440,000 in, but we’d guess it worth even more now. 

Suffix Style Number Plates 

In 1963 number plates started using the last character to display the registration year. A designated a 1963 car, B a 1964, and so on. The format used three letters, then 2, 3, or 4 characters, with the last one always being a letter. 

Prefix Style Number Plates 

1983 saw the DVLA run out of suffix-style letters to use, so a new system was introduced, the prefix style used a letter again to designate year, but it was at the start of the registration number.  

Like suffix plates, some letters such as Q are not used as they are reserved for specialty registrations. 

Current Style Number Plates 

Since 2001, we have been using the numbers at the end of the first block of seven to show registration age. The first used was 01, for example, “LG01 HCP”. This was the first format to split the year into two allocations, with “51” being used after the 1st September. 

The latest number plate allocations for 20204 are “24” - registered between March and September, and 74 - registered after September.

Legalities Around Private Plates 

One of the biggest factors to consider when buying personalised registration plates is if it is allowed on your car. Registration numbers with dates have to be the correct year or older than your car. In other words, you cannot make your car appear newer with a personalised plate. 

Further to that, allowing the general public to control what their number plate says without rules or restrictions would be a recipe for disaster, so the DVLA bans number plates if they deem them to “cause offence, embarrassment or are in poor taste”.  

Examples include plates that spell profanity or religious/political references.

Can You Put a Private Plate on a Lease Car?  

Yes, there is no legal restriction on putting a private plate on a leased car, but you will need permission from the finance company.  

Many leasing companies have no problem adding a private plate, but they often charge an admin fee to do so.  

How to Get a Private Number Plate 

We’ve summarised the process of how to get a private number plate, but always read the DVLA guidelines thoroughly before making a change, also remember to notify your insurance company.  

  1. Buy a Plate - In order to add a private plate to your car, you first need to own one. They can be bought straight from the DVLA, from an individual or a broker 
  2. Prepare the forms - the DVLA site requires one of two forms, a V750 if you are the first owner of the registration, or both a V750 and a V778 if you have bought it second hand. 
  3. Assign the plate - The DVLA site is the easiest way to do this, simply fill out the online tool using the details from the forms mentioned above.  
  4. Wait for the V5 - An updated V5C (registration document) will be sent out, wait for this to arrive before fitting new plates 
  5. Buy new plates - You will need to get new plates printed, unless the broker provided them. To do this take your V5 and a form of ID to your local motor factors.  
  6. Fit the new plates - remove the old plates and fit anew, making sure to correctly secure them without obscuring the lettering with the screw heads. Plate fitting kits with coloured screw caps are widely available.  

How to Add a Private Number Plate to Your Leased Car 

The process of adding a private plate to a lease car is slightly different, as you cannot apply to the DVLA directly, you will need to do it through the leasing company. 

  1. Ask permission  - The leasing company has the right to refuse the change, so check with them first before you spend any money. 
  2. Purchase a private number plate - as described in step 2 above, you will need copies of the V750 and V778 forms.  
  3. Fill out the forms - usually, the lease provider will advise their nominee details, this is to allow them to apply your number plate to their car 
  4. Send them to DVLA - Some lease companies will want to process these themselves, and some allow you to send them directly to the DVLA. An admin fee is likely to be charged in either case. 
  5. Wait for confirmation - the DVLA will write to you confirming the change has been made, you can then follow steps 5 and 6 above to buy and fit your new plates. 

Factors to Consider When Putting a Private Plate on a Leased Car 

  • Time of lease, the process of changing a plate takes time and effort, which will be repeated when removing it. If you only have a short period of time left on your lease, it might be more hassle than it’s worth. 
  • Fees, the lease company is likely to charge an admin fee, you will also likely incur a retention fee when removing the plate, unless you have another car to transfer it to 
  • Removing in time, it is advised to start the process of removing the plate 6 weeks before the lease ends. Be sure to mark the date in your diary! 
  • Company car? Your employer may have rules around applying personal plates to their lease cars, and the extra party involved in the process may slow things down 

What Happens to the Private Plate at the End of the Lease? 

To retain the number plate, you will need to instruct the leasing company in advance of the end of the lease term. As the registered owner of the car, the leasing company will need to send the appropriate forms to the DVLA to have the plate transferred. 

Private Number Plate FAQ 

What are the cost implications of getting a private plate? 

The personalised plates start at around £250, with fees and transfer costs, expect that to rise to over £300. To remove the private plate, you must either transfer it to another vehicle, or put it on what's known as ‘retention’ 

The DVLA charges £80 to put a registration number on retention. Insurance is another consideration, most insurers will not charge a higher premium, but some will charge an admin fee to swap it mid-term.  

Can I put a private plate on a company car? 

Yes, but your employer will be the deciding factor here, generally speaking, business lease companies are just as willing to apply for personalised plates, but your company may not allow it. 

If you are self-employed with a leased car or van, there are no restrictions other than those imposed by the leasing company.  

Should I get a personalised plate on my company van? 

Private or personalised registration plates are a common sight on company vehicles. They can add to the vehicle’s brand identity and appear more professional. Just make sure it doesn't spell anything unprofessional or embarrassing! 

Can I put a private plate on a second-hand car? 

Of course! There are no limitations that apply because you bought the vehicle second-hand. In some cases, such as the plate being relevant to the car’s make or model, they can increase the resale value of the vehicle. 

Can I keep my normal number plate when I sell my car? 

If your car’s original registration number is of significant importance to you, for instance the last three letters are your initials, or it holds sentimental value, it is possible to have a replacement registration put on, and you can transfer or put-on-retention the original plate.  

There are rules around this, so check the DVLA guide for more information. 

Can I find who owns a personalised number plate? 

If you’ve seen a car on the road with a number plate you would like to own, either private or of standard format, it is possible to g

et the driver to transfer and then sell this plate to you.  

However, if you do not know who owns the number plate, the DVLA will not pass on any information to help you buy it. They will only cooperate with such requests in the event of an accident, crime etc.  

Private Plates on Lease Cars - Final Thoughts 

So there we have it, the low down on adding a private plate on your leased car or van. The key takeaways to be aware of are that you do not automatically have the right to change the plate on your lease car, but most leasing companies will be obliged if you ask.  

For more information, we suggest contacting your lease provider, as they are likely to have a procedure for their customers to follow. To make sure you don’t end up with a fine or extra fees to pay, read through the DVLA website on private plate purchase and application. 

Related Posts