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The Number Plate Laws That Can Land You With A Fine

May, 18 2022 | James Russell

Earlier this year, a range of motoring laws were implemented for UK motorists.


The Number Plate Laws That Can Land You With A Fine

We covered a lot of them in this blog, but today, we’ll focus specifically on number plates, highlighting where you might go wrong and how you might be punished for doing so. We’ll cover everything from spacing to lettering, colours and materials, essentially looking at all the regulations you need to know to avoid a fine.

Let’s start with the new standard for UK number plates, which applies if your vehicle was manufactured after September 2021.

The new number plate standard

Back in September 2021, number plate regulations were changed with the introduction of a new standard, the BSAU145e. This new standard featured updates to legal number plate borders, artwork, digits, size, materials for the plate itself, and more.

Click here to watch a handy YouTube guide by our parent company, Jepson & Co, about the new number plate standard. You can also view the changes in the below image which applies to standard vehicle number plates.

BSau145e Standard Number Plate Image from Jepson & Co

We covered the all-new BSAU145e standard number plate in this blog, which you can read for more information on number plate regulations. The blog covers all the different forms of number plates and vehicles they go on, so you don’t get caught out on UK roads.

Why were the number plate standards changed?

Number plates were changed primarily to assist police officers and ANPR cameras capture number plates to identify vehicles, which is one of the core reasons number plates exist on vehicles at all.

The materials used in these new number plates are also much stronger and resilient than their older counterparts, as well as being more durable and scratch-proof. This obviously provided an added incentive for their widespread introduction.

Now, with the basics of the new standard of number plate covered, let’s take a look at some of the rules you need to be aware of so that you don’t get fined on the roads.

Number plate lettering, colours, and borders

As we mentioned at the start of the blog, the characters on your number plates need to be clear so ANPR cameras and police officers are able to read them.

They also need to fit a range of spacing and sizing requirements when it comes to the characters and plates themselves. These include:

  • Spacing between characters and the margins at the top, side, and bottom, need to be 11 mm on all UK number plates.
  • The space between the age identifier and letters must be 33 mm.
  • The characters are required to be 50 mm wide and 79 mm tall, with the letter L and number 1 being thinner.
  • The font has to be the one that’s been on UK number plates since 2001, which is known as “Charles Wright”.
  • The colour of the lettering needs to be black on a white background for the front number plate and yellow for the back. This means no tinting or multicoloured lettering.
  • There are limits on borders, too, with only solid, non-reflective colours legal in the UK.

By law, number plates must also display a permanent mark of the following information:

  • The name and postcode of the supplying outlet
  • The British Standard number (BS AU 145d)
  • The name of the manufacturer

Number plate character spacing

Your number plate also has to match specific criteria when it comes to the spacing of digits and letters for it to be legal on UK roads. If it’s a millennium, or new style registration, it follows the format of two letters, two numbers, a space, and three letters, which looks like this: XX00 XXX.

The first two letters are area identifiers and indicate where the number plate came from, the following two numbers are the age identifier, and the final three letters are randomly generated. Take a look at our range of millennium number plates here.

Dateless, or cherished number plates don’t have an age identifier (hence the name), and they follow a different format to millennium or “new style” number plates. Here’s a handy explanation of cherished number plate formats. You can also buy dateless or cherished number plates with National Numbers.

Then there’s suffix style number plates, which adhere to the format of three letters, a number which can be 1, 2 or 3 digits in length, followed by a single year identifying letter. These kinds of registrations are reserved for vehicles manufactured between 1963 and 1983 and as is the case with millennium style number plates, you have to ensure that your vehicle is the same age or older as the age identifier. This is because of the golden number plate rule that you can’t make your vehicle look younger than it is with its reg.

Next up we have prefix style number plates which follow the format of a single year identifying letter, a number (which can be 1, 2 or 3 digits in length), and finally, three more letters. There are a few more things to note about prefix number plates, which you can read here, and you can also click here to buy prefix style number plates with National Numbers.Top of Form

It’s vital that you stick to these formats and don’t rearrange letters on the physical number plate to look more like the desired word. If this is something you had in mind or something you’ve already paid for and put on your vehicle, it could land you in big trouble…

What happens if my number plates don’t meet the required standards?

UK Traffic Police
 UK Traffic Police image in header, thumbnail, and above, courtesy of West Midlands Police, licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0.

If your number plates aren’t correctly displayed, you’re breaking UK driving law. Everything needs to adhere to the above regulations, with clear, block lettering used for the digits and the correct format used for the spacing.

If your plates aren’t up to scratch or don’t meet the requirements, police can dish out fines of up to £1,000 to motorists. They could even be seized. Your vehicle will also fail its MOT if your number plates don’t meet the standards.

Buy fully legal number plates with National Numbers

On the lookout for the perfect number plate that doesn’t break any UK driving laws? Look no further than National Numbers.

We’re a fully registered dealer of private number plates and have over 40 years experience in the industry and you can even buy the physical number plates you purchase from ourselves from our parent company Jepson & Co, who are the longest-serving number plate manufacturer in the entire UK.

Give our sales team a call on 01642 363738 to find out more about the kinds of registrations you could buy, or find the ideal, fully legal number plate online today.

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