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What Documents Should I Have On Hand When Leasing a Car?

When leasing a vehicle it’s important to plan ahead, as you will be required to show certain documentation along the way. Depending upon your credit or situation, this documentation can be as little as a current driver’s license and proof of a valid insurance policy, or it could be a lot more. This article will cover the documents needed to ensure a hassle free process.

Personal Information

As with any financial agreement, one of the first things required in the lease process is to verify who you are. For most people, only one form of identification will be needed, and should be readily available at all times anyway. For others, more may be needed.

Have a Valid Driver’s License

The dealership will need to perform a credit check on you prior to even considering any lease terms. To do so, they will need to verify your identity. This can be done by providing a valid state issued driver’s license. This license will also be required to drive the vehicle off the lot, so it only makes sense that you would want to have one with you during the process anyway.

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Be sure to check the laws in your state before heading out to lease a vehicle. In some states the law requires your driver’s license to be issued by that state. If you’ve recently moved and are just settling in, or if you are a student, you may need to take care of that step first. Since this varies from state to state, it is not within the scope of this article to say whether this will apply for any individual lessee, but a quick call to any local auto dealer that does leasing should get you a quick answer.

You May Need Additional Documentation

A lot of times your driver’s license will be all the physical documentation required to verify your identity, and you will be ready to proceed to the next steps. You will, however, also need to provide your social security number when filling out the paperwork. While you will generally just need to provide it on the appropriate paperwork, it may be worthwhile to also have this piece of identification on hand. It will be rare for it to be asked for, but it can happen. Better safe than sorry.

Financial Information

As mentioned above, the leasing agent will need to pull a credit report for you. For the most part, that can be done with the driver’s license listed above, but sometimes more information will be required to verify the information on that report.

Provide Proof of Residency

In some cases, you will need to provide proof that you live at the address listed on your driver’s license. This is especially common if you have recently moved, or if the credit on your file is listed under a previous address. In either case, the dealer will want you to verify where you live. This will be pretty easy to do for most people. A current utility bill addressed to you is usually enough to get you through this part of the process.

While a current utility bill will work fine ninety percent of the time, it may be that you do not have any utilities in your name. In this case a bank statement, cell phone bill, or other piece of mail addressed to you from a reputable source may be accepted.

Each individual case will be different. If you think that there is a possibility that this may cause an issue for you, be sure to call the dealership ahead of time to ask what form of documents they will accept in this situation. They will be able clarify their requirements, and help you figure out exactly what you will need to have on hand to make the process as smooth as possible.

Bring Proof of Income

Depending on what’s on the credit report, and how strong your credit is, it may be necessary to provide verification of your current income. This can be done in several ways, but one of the most common would be to provide copies of your two most recent pay stubs from your current employer.

If you have more than one job, bring copies from all of them. While you may consider one job as your primary income source, your combined income may put you in a better position to obtain the leasing terms you would like.

Sometimes the nature of a person’s work will make it difficult to prove income with just a two to four week sample. It could be that you are self employed, or that you work in an industry where income could vary from week to week. If that is the case, often a copy of the previous year’s tax returns will also be accepted as verification. If you are in doubt, it is best to call and talk to a leasing agent beforehand to be sure you have the right documents.

Most times this documentation will not be required, but in the event that it is, it is best to be prepared and have these on hand.

Motor Vehicle Information

Your current motor vehicle information will be very important when applying for a lease. The dealer will want to be sure that you have the proper coverage to drive the leased vehicle off the lot, as well as verify proper ownership of any vehicle being presented for trade in. The following two documents will be very important to have.

Make Sure You Have a Current Insurance Policy and Card

Since you will not be purchasing the car outright, the finance company used by your dealership will have a set of insurance criteria that must be met in order to be financed to lease a vehicle through them. Most of the time, having a full coverage insurance policy issued from the state in which the lease originates will be sufficient on the day of the lease signing, but it’s never a bad idea to check your policy beforehand to be sure. Generally it will temporarily cover new and leased vehicles for a short while after purchase (14 days in many cases). This is so that you will have time to secure a full policy for that vehicle.

Some dealers will have different coverage requirements than others. Often times these requirements will vary further depending on the car you’ve selected. You will need to make sure you pay careful attention to the requirements and make sure that the policy you eventually purchase for the vehicle meets all of that criteria. This is not something that will need to be taken care of on the day of the lease, but once you obtain insurance coverage on the vehicle, that policy will need to be reported and verified. If the terms set forth in your lease agreement are not met, this could present serious issues.

Have Proof of Ownership of Your Current Vehicle

If you plan to trade in your current vehicle, the dealer will require that you have documentation that shows that you are the owner of that vehicle, and that can be used to verify that the vehicle is free and clear of any liens or other restrictions. To do this you will need to present an official copy of your title to verify ownership.

On older cars it’s not uncommon to have lost your copy. If you need to obtain a replacement title, you can obtain one by visiting your local DMV. The process will vary from state to state, but generally involves proving providing vehicle registration paperwork and your driver’s license. You may also be required to fill out a few forms, and there will be a small fee.

It will also be helpful to have service records on hand for your previous vehicle when you go to trade it in. A well maintained vehicle will many times have a higher resale value than one not maintained well. These aren’t critical to the process, but providing these records can sometimes help you get top dollar for your trade in if it has been well maintained.

What To Do if I Need a Copy of My Lease Agreement?

While it’s always best to keep important documents in a safe place, sometimes things get lost. It happens to all of us. It can be frustrating to lose your copy of the lease agreement, but it’s not the end of the world. Getting a copy of your lease can be fairly painless.

Contact The Number Provided on Your Monthly Statement

This will be the first place to contact when trying to track down a copy of your automobile lease agreement. Whether it is a dealer owned financier, or a third party bank, they will be the ones that technically own the lease. As such, they will have a copy of your original agreement on file, and will be able to provide to you upon request.

Contact The Original Leasing Dealer

If you do not have access to a current statement for whatever reason, you can always contact the dealer where you leased the car. Some dealers will keep copies on file for reference, but even if they do not have it on hand, they should be able to get you the proper contact information so you can obtain it.

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That’s all there is to it. You probably won’t need all of the items listed above. Sometimes just having a driver’s license and proof of insurance is enough to get you out the door, and into a newly leased car. If you plan on trading in your current vehicle at the time of the lease, you will also need documentation on it. The rest of the documents listed above aren’t always necessary, they can be good to have on hand, especially if you are unsure of your creditworthiness.

While the items listed above should cover you well in most cases, but laws and requirements can vary slightly from state to state. As such, you should always check with your individual dealer for specific documents they will require before making the trip to the dealership.

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