Pressed plates are metal number plates in the characters are raised off the background. If you have seen them on the road you know that they look very stylish, but the question is are they legal?
Quick research shows that is all dependent on the age of the vehicle.
Are pressed number plates legal for modern vehicles?
Guidelines for the display of number plates for vehicles registered from March 21st 2001 are detailed under British Standard BS AU 145d. As per these guidelines number plates must be made of reflective material (not retroactively made reflective by treatment). Aluminium, which traditionally makes up pressed number plates, does not meet this standard.
Another standard requires the material to be flexible, and must be able to spring back to its original shape if bent. Metal plates cannot do this.
These two requirements means that pressed metal number plates are effectively illegal for any modern vehicle.
Are pressed number plates legal for classic vehicles?
Vehicles from 1972 and before originally came with black pressed aluminium plates. There is nothing wrong with using these on this age of vehicle, however they are still bound by the display guidelines of the time that dictated the size and font of the characters.
Any vehicle registered before 1972 can have a traditional black and silver pressed number plates. These are made out of aluminium and are made retroactively reflective.
Pre-1950s vehicles can also have black and white acrylic painted aluminium plates as well. These have a slightly different size to the letters (these style came before the introduction of the suffix style, DVLA had to make more room for the extra letter).
Older still are the cast aluminium plates available to vehicles from the 1930s and before. These are made from molten aluminium with all characters and designs moulded in the same cast.