Monday 11 November 2019


Having a number plate on your car is a legal requirement, and most people are aware of this, but the law is actually a little more specific than just having a number plate. This is where a lot of confusion can arise, and it helps to understand the law surrounding number plates entirely. There is a tendency to want to change the actual plate to match upgrades to the car, but before you order something, there are considerations.

The Basics

A number plate is required for front and rear of a car, and if it gets broken or damaged, you need to get it replaced ASAP. You can purchase replacements, but you will need to provide evidence of ownership, in the form of the V5 to do so. The plate must be readable, so if your vehicle gets covered in mud, you need to get in clean, you can be fined if it cannot be easily read. A front number plate must have a white background, and the characters must be black. Your rear plate must have a yellow background with black characters; nothing else is considered legal. It is permissible to have a flag on the plate, but it must be positioned so as not to affect the ease with which the plate can be read. You may also have the country name either in full or abbreviated, for example, England or ENG. The number plate must never have any form of a pattern on, plain backgrounds only. 

3D and 4D Plates 

If you are hoping to customise the plates to go with upgrades to your car, you may have 3D or 4D plates made provided you stick to the law. All plates must be made from a reflective material and not contain any coatings that prevent speed cameras taking an image. You must ensure the plates adhere to size guidance, and for 4D plates you must comply with British Standard BS AU 145d, using the Charles Wright Font. When it comes to sizes, you must ensure every letter and number is the same size and cars registered after 2001 should have a 79mm height. There must be a bargain of 11mm on all sides. Cars registered before Sept 2001 have slightly different rules with a height of 89mm and a margin of 13mm. 

Whats Not Legal 

Tinted plates are considered not legal as the law clearly states that plates cannot be obscured in any way, however there is a grey area as tinting is involved in 3D and 4D plates which we have already confirmed are legal The fact that the plate is different means they can still be read provided they are compliant with the rules above. Stick on plates are also a bit of an unclear area, as very often they fail to be marked with the official British Safety Standard, and it is harder to get them printed onto reflective material. One element of the MOT is also to demonstrate number plate strength, and again stickers do not have the strength of acrylic plates, so they are best avoided.

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