Can you put personalised plates on a financed car?

Roman Danaev

31 January 2023

If you’d like to put a private registration on a financed car, you’re not the only one with that thought. We have to agree that it’s a great way to make the car feel like your own. But you can’t simply transfer to a private registration plate on the spot. There is a whole process attached to it and a lot of nuances to consider.

Here is what you need to know about the use of a private plate on a financed car.

What are personalised registration plates?

Personalised number plates are unique identifiers (numeric or alphanumeric IDs) that replace the original numbers assigned to the vehicle.

When an owner registers a new vehicle, the DVLA provides them with a registration number. This number is chosen by the agency at random. Private registration, on the other hand, means that you can choose something more special, like your initials or a date.

Private number plates are not free, especially if they display something very desirable, like a common name or something fun, like THI5 DOG.

Can you change the number plate on a financed car?

Yes, you can change the registration to a personalised plate even on a financed vehicle. It doesn’t really matter if you’re just a registered keeper as long as the legal owner, the lender, approves of the private plates.

Can you put a private plate on an HP car?

If you bought a car, new or used, on Hire Purchase (HP), you can still put a private registration plate on it. No reason to worry that you don’t legally own the car until your last payment. The ownership is transferred to you after the last instalment, so you can keep the same registration plate you bought earlier.

Can you put a private plate on a PCP car?

Personal Contract Purchase (PCP), another popular way of financing a car, is similar when it comes to private registrations. While the car belongs to the lender, the process is the same as with HP.

The differences come in when the contract ends. As you may know, there are three options at the end of PCP, which affect what happens to the private number plate:

  • You can pay the balloon payment to own the car. In this case, you can keep the plates.
  • You can trade the car in and transfer the plates to your next car.
  • You can hand the car back to the lender and keep the ownership of the plates for later.

Do you need to tell the finance company about the private plate?

Yes, the finance company absolutely needs to know if you’re planning to get private reg. You can’t skip this step, as the DVLA won’t even proceed with the change. The plate change doesn’t happen without the registered owner, which is the lender for now. They even can arrange everything for you for a fee.

If you already have the new private registration plate, you can’t put it on the car before the leasing company confirms that it’s been processed with the DVLA.

You also need to tell your insurance company. The insurer needs to have accurate information about the car. Otherwise, they’ll be insuring the wrong car on the road with an outdated record.

What happens to your old number plate when you change it?

Technically, you don’t lose the original number plate because it gets reassigned to the car when you’re no longer the keeper. In other words, if you take your personalised number plate off (let’s say you trade or sell the car), the old plate “returns” to it.

If you don’t want to use the new number plates yet, you can put them on retention and keep using the old ones. Of course, this can only happen if you haven’t officially transferred yet. The retention certificate, which you process through the DVLA, confirms that you own and can use this number. You’ll also need this document if you decide to sell the plates.

The DVLA number plate guidelines

The current vehicle registration number format was presented in 2001 and applies to any private plate, too. The format consists of the following:

  • Local memory tag: 2 letters
  • Age identifier: 2 numbers
  • Any 3 letters

While registration plates can be personalised, they can’t be customised. You’re not allowed to have stylised letters, like italics, or change the colours, spacing, and size.

You can learn more about the rules for number plates on the DVLA website.

Is it worth getting a private number plate?

It’s your decision. A private plate isn’t functional, but it can be a unique accessory that expresses who you are. For example, if you feel like you’re Her Majesty’s Secret Service agent, a 007 plate will be perfect.

Some people consider private number plates as investments. They purchase them hoping they will appreciate in value; and if that happens, they resell them at a profit. It’s not a very lucrative business for most resellers, so it’s probably better to get new plates if you personally want to have them.

How to put personalised registration plates on a car

So, you’ve got plates that meet the DVLA’s guidelines and are ready to start the number plate transfer. This can be done in four steps:

1. Ask permission from your finance provider

The decision regarding a personal number plate is actually not your own, so reach out to the finance company. Well, you may want to look up the terms of your agreement first to confirm you’re not violating the terms. If everything checks out, ask the lender to greenlight the change.

2. Update the nominee details

With the lender’s approval, you can initiate the transfer itself.

In this scenario, the finance company is the nominee. This means you’ll be using the information provided by them rather than your own (even though a “private registration plate” sounds like it’d be attached to you).

Put down the correct address on the retention document (the V778 form, green piece of paper) or the certificate of entitlement (the V750 form, pink piece of paper).

3. Send the documents to the DVLA

Send the completed V750 or V778 form to the DVLA online or by post. You’ll also need the vehicle’s log book (V5C), which will be updated once the new plates take effect.

There are a couple of fees you’ll need to pay: the transfer fee charged by the DVLA and the admin fee charged by the lending company.

4. Confirm the transfer is complete

Wait for the written confirmation from the DVLA saying that the registration number change is officially approved. The confirmation will come online or by post, depending on the way you initially contacted the agency.

That is pretty much it, now you have a private number plate. It doesn’t change a lot from the insurance or taxation perspective; it’s more of a preference.

What happens when my car finance agreement ends?

What happens to your private registration plate depends on what you do with the car. If you keep the car at the end of the finance agreement (for example, you’ve made the balloon payment at the end of PCP), you’ll keep the private plate. You own the car outright, so the plates are yours by extension. No need to tell the DVLA since you’ve already notified them of the change.

If you take the car back to the lender, you’ll have to remove the new plates. Start the process six to eight weeks before the agreement ends; these things can take a while. You have three options: transfer the plate to another vehicle, keep the number to use later, or let go of it altogether.

Contact a reliable car finance broker!

The journey to a private number plate isn’t complicated. You just need to get permission from the legal owner (car finance company) and take care of the documents.

But do you actually need it? Is getting a private reg worth it? Up to you to decide. Because it’s just a way of personalising your car, it’s not necessary. But if you’ve read this article, you probably see the value in making the car feel like your own, so go ahead!

Before you can get your own private number plate, you need to get a car, right? That’s where you’ll need Carplus and our search tool. We’ll get you connected to the best dealers and help you make sense of all finance-related calculations and payments. Reach out, and let’s talk about the car of your dreams!

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