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Using a Private Plate on a leased vehicle

Can you use your own private plate on a lease or hire vehicle?

The answer is YES if you have the right permission. Only the registered owner of the vehicle can apply for a licence plate transfer, which means if the vehicle is leased it will likely be the car or van leasing company that will need to apply.

There are certain licence plates that can not be transferred but if you check your V5C Registration Certificate it will let you know if the plate is non-transferable. There are also restrictions on the transfer of registration plates with a year identifier; these restrictions are in place to prevent vehicles from being made to look younger than the year of their registration. If a vehicle is registered with an M plate you can not put a plate with an N year suffix on to the vehicle. The age of the vehicle is the date the vehicle was first registered and can be found on the V5 logbook, it’s not necessarily the number shown on the plate which may already have been personalised. Should you wish to transfer an M suffix plate on to a vehicle registered with an N suffix, this is acceptable. This rule does not apply to the transfer of plates without a year identifier, if you had a personal plate such as “HAPPY 05” which is 8 years old there would be no problem in transferring the plate to a newer vehicle. (If you are at all unsure contact the DVLA for advice).

The DVLA states that only the registered owner of a vehicle can apply for the transfer of a plate, which means if the vehicle is leased or on HP it will need to be the lease company that applies for the transfer. Once the leased vehicle has been registered with your new private plate, the existing registration number will be withdrawn and no longer exist, unless it’s either transferred to another vehicle or retained by the lease company. The old plate can be retained for up to 3 years on a V317 document, which means after the lease agreement ends the original plate can return to the leased vehicle.

The whole process seems simple enough until at the end of the leasing agreement the vehicle is returned to leasing company and they keep the private plate. They can do this because they are the registered owners of the vehicle and license plate and are entitled to do what they wish with the vehicle at the end of the lease agreement. To prevent such an event occurring it’s an advisable measure to get a written agreement with the lease company to ensure that at the end of the rental agreement the plate gets returned to you.

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