Help & Advice for Modifying & Personalising a Lease Car or Leased Van

As contract hire and leasing grows in popularity, so do the questions and FAQs. This is largely down to some misinformation and misunderstanding. Hopefully, in this short advice bulletin, we can answer some of the main questions the CarLease UK team gets asked in relation to private plates (aka personalised/cherished plates) and after-market alterations. We are going to break this down into two questions, namely:

1) Can I add my own private number plate to a car leasing vehicle? and

2) Is it possible to modify a contract hire vehicle.

Private Plate – Key Facts

The basics:

Since circa 1989 the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has been selling personalised plates to the general public through auctions, magazines and now online. The plates sold by the DVLA will not have been issued before (or used on another vehicle). In the alternative, some motorists will sell their personalise registration privately if it is deemed to have worth or value.

When you purchase the plate from the DVLA you will receive a V750 certificate of entitlement which essentially proves the plate is yours and that you have the right to affix it to a vehicle of your choosing. In the case of a private sale, you will receive either a V750 or a V778 (retention document). Ensure you do receive either one of these forms otherwise you will be unable to proceed further.

With a contract hire and leasing arrangement the registered owner of the vehicle is always the finance company. As this is not an ownership product, you will never own the vehicles and so you will not appear as the registered owner on the V5 (log book). However, you are deemed to be a registered keeper, as the day to day user of the vehicle, and this will be relevant for insurance purposes.

With ownership-style products, such as a cash-sales and Hire Purchase (HP), the vehicle will be registered in your name and you will have possession of the V5.

How to organise a plate going onto the new vehicle:

Once you are in possession of the V750 (certificate of entitlement) or V778 (retention document) you are able to request the plate to be assigned to the vehicle. However, as noted above, this is not something you can do yourself in the case of contract hire as you do not have the V5 in your possession.

What you need to do is to assign the private plate to the registered owner of the vehicle. You do this by changing the finance company to the grantee or nominee on your form. You will then need to send this to the finance company, together with an administration fee, for them to arrange this on your behalf. Do note that different charges apply depending on who the finance company is – CarLease UK work with a select number of finance companies who we will introduce you to.

The finance company will arrange this with the DVLA, a process of circa 21 days, and will subsequently write to you to confirm this has been done. At this point you will be able to physically put on the private plate. Please do note that you will need a letter of authority in order to request for the plates to be produced for you. Many companies need a copy of the V5, or letter, in order to make plates (this is a legal requirement).

The above advice does assume that the vehicle has already been registered and you are organising the transfer at a later date. In some exceptional circumstances ,we can work alongside the supplying dealer to arrange the private plate be put onto the vehicle before delivery. However, this could delay delivery and is never our preferred route

How to remove a private plate from a lease vehicle:

If you approaching the end of the contract (we send a reminder 6 months before contract end date) or you wish to sell the personalise reg, you will need to go through a similar process to the above.

Essentially, you are asking to DVLA to organise the registration to be removed from the vehicle and retained in the name of the registered keeper. To do this you will need to send a cheque to the finance company for the DVLA - this fee is currently £80. You will also need to provide the new nominee details so that the retention certificate displays the correct keeper details.

Bear in mind that since 2015 you must renew the private number every 10 years if not being used on a vehicle. If you fail to renew this, the number will expire.

Can I Modify a lease vehicle?

Making after-market changes to a vehicle is a slightly more complicated question. In every circumstance we would suggest that you speak to the credit broker, such as CarLease UK, or the finance company, before making any changes to the vehicle. You will also need to consider liaising with your motor insurance provider and, if applicable, your GAP insurance provider.

Certain changes are commonly made to the vehicles we supply, including:

  • Vinyl wrapping;
  • Privacy glass;
  • Towbars; and
  • Roof Boxes.

In many cases, the cost of organising the modification to be made after delivery is simply more cost-effective. For example privacy glass and a contrast roof would you cost you circa £2000 if the Land Rover factory were to organise this on your Evoque. However, if you have this organised by a private re-seller, you would save circa £1250-1500.

In any case, what you need to do is to let your team know in advance that you wish to make the alterations to the vehicle. So long as these are not detrimental to the vehicle i.e. adjusting bodywork, making upgrades to the engine or changing the alloys, we can note these on your finance agreement so that the finance company are aware that the vehicle is being returned in an adjusted format. If you do make alterations without their knowledge you could be charged for the finance company having to remove them from the vehicle. In more serious cases, such as bodywork/engine modifications, you could be charged by the finance company for them having to rectify the vehicle back to the original position. Bear in mind that the finance company has set their residual value based on the vehicle being returned in a specific condition.

In short, so long as the minor alterations are noted beforehand and do not materially alter the vehicle, this is something which can be easily arranged. For more in-depth adjustments, you will need to let the finance company know in advance to prevent any unnecessary remediation charges.

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