Understanding Legal and Illegal Number Plates in the UK

Understanding Legal and Illegal Number Plates in the UK

When it comes to displaying number plates on your vehicle in the UK, there are specific legal guidelines that must be adhered to. Failure to comply with these rules can result in fines or even the loss of your personalised registration. This blog post aims to provide a clear understanding of what constitutes a legal and an illegal number plate.

Legal Number Plates

Legal number plates must follow the regulations set by DVLA. These requirements include:

  1. Standard Character Font - The characters on your number plate should be in the standard 'Charles Wright' font. This ensures uniformity across all vehicles and improves readability.

  2. Black Characters on a White Background - The front number plate should have black characters on a white background, and the rear plate should have black characters on a yellow background.

  3. Size and Spacing - The size and spacing of the characters on a number plate are regulated. Each character should be 79mm high and 50mm wide, excluding the number 1 or letter I. There should be a gap of 11mm between characters and 33mm between the age identifier and the random letters.

  4. BS AU 145d Compliant - The number plate must be BS AU 145d compliant, indicating that it meets the British Standard for number plates.


Types of Legal Number Plates

There are several types of legal number plates recognised by the DVLA in the UK. These include:

  1. Standard Plates - These plates follow the DVLA's regulations strictly. They feature black characters on a white or yellow background and comply with the size, spacing, and font requirements, as explained above.

  2. 3D and 4D Plates - 3D and 4D number plates are also considered legal, provided they meet specific criteria. The characters must be black and in Charles Wright font. They must not incorporate any background patterns or contain any graphics.

  3. Vintage Plates - For vintage vehicles (vehicles over 40 years old), the DVLA allows the use of traditional black and silver plates. These plates must also follow the appropriate character sizing and spacing requirements.

  4. Euro Plates - Number plates featuring the EU flag and the country identifier are legal in the UK. However, following Brexit, drivers may need to display a GB sticker when travelling in Europe.

  5. National Flag Plates - Plates displaying one of the UK national flags (Union Jack, Cross of St George, Cross of St Andrew, or the Red Dragon of Wales) along with the corresponding country identifiers (GB, ENG, SCO, or WALES) are legal.

Remember, all these plates must be BS AU 145d compliant to ensure they meet the British Standard for durability, reflectivity, and visibility.


Legal and Illegal Number Plates


Illegal Number Plates

Contrary to the above, any number plate that does not adhere to these regulations is considered illegal. Examples include:

  1. Incorrect Font - Using a non-standard font is illegal. This includes stylised fonts, italic fonts, or those that mimic handwriting or other scripts.

  2. Incorrect Colour Scheme - Other colour schemes, such as silver text on a black background, are illegal unless you have a classic vehicle that was registered before 1st January 1975.

  3. Incorrect Size and Spacing - Altering the size and spacing of characters to make a word or phrase is illegal.

  4. Decorative Symbols or Graphics - Including decorative symbols, graphics, or emojis on a number plate is illegal.

  5. Plates without BS AU 145d Compliance - Plates that do not meet the BS AU 145


Types of Illegal Number Plates

While the DVLA provides some flexibility in the style of number plates, certain types are strictly illegal. Here are a few examples:

  1. Neon Plates - Number plates with neon colours or illumination are not permitted. All characters must be black on a white or yellow reflective background.

  2. Holographic Plates - Holographic or 3D-effect backgrounds can interfere with readability and are therefore considered illegal.

  3. Plate with Decorative Badge - Badges, insignia, or decorative elements that are not recognised national identifiers are not allowed on number plates.

  4. Plates with Incorrect Reflectivity - Plates that don't meet the correct reflectivity standards (BS AU 145d) are illegal.

  5. Show Plates - These are often purchased as novelty or decorative items and do not adhere to DVLA regulations. While they can be used off-road or at events, they are illegal for use on public roads.

Please remember that failure to comply with DVLA number plate regulations could result in fines or the loss of your personalised registration.

By understanding the legal requirements and restrictions for number plates in the UK, vehicle owners can avoid unintentional breaches of the law while expressing their individuality. Always ensure to purchase number plates from a reputable supplier that meets DVLA standards.


Order Your Number Plates from Us

Safeguard your vehicle's compliance with DVLA number plate regulations by ordering from us. We offer a wide selection of legal number plates, including standard, 3D, 4D, vintage, and national flag plates. Our plates are meticulously crafted to meet all statutory requirements, including character size, spacing, font, and BS AU 145d compliance. Whether you're looking to replace your existing plates or invest in a personalised registration, trust us for quality, legality, and service. Order your number plates from us today and drive with confidence, knowing you're on the right side of the law.