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Number Plate Laws You Probably Didn't Know

May, 15 2024 | James Russell

Number plate laws range from the understandable to the ridiculous and today, we will be exploring them all.


Number Plate Laws You Probably Didn't Know

With a new set of laws coming into place earlier this year, what better time to run through some of the number plate rules and regulations that may land you with a fine on British roads?

So, without further ado, let’s dive straight in.

Number plate laws in red font over a gavel photo

Front and rear number plates must always be on display

This means no decoration getting in the way of your number plate digits and making sure your plates are kept clean and readable. The reason behind this is so police and ANPR cameras can pick up your reg should they need to.

To avoid being pulled over and potentially fined, check bulbs around your registration that may make your reg hard to read in the dark and regularly clean your plates, especially if you’ve recently travelled off-road or in rainy conditions.

Only electric cars can have green strips

The DVLA allow number plates to have various flags displayed on the side of a registration. These include the Union Jack flag, the Red Dragon of Wales, and the Cross of St George.

However, since Britain left the EU, the EU flag is not allowed. Another one not allowed unless your vehicle has zero emissions is the green strip, which makes sense, really.

Get your character sizing right

Here’s a quick rundown of the most up-to-date regulations around your number plate characters. If your plates don’t match these, you could end up having your acrylics seized and a nasty fine.

  • Characters must be 79mm tall and 50mm wide
  • Character stroke thickness must be 14mm
  • There must be an 11m gap between characters
  • The space between the age identifier and letters must be 33mm
  • Margins at the top, sides, and bottom of the reg must be 11mm
  • The official Charles Wright font must be used.

Rules around acrylics

From characters to the plate itself next, the following rules apply to UK vehicle number plates:

  • The plate must be made of a reflective material
  • The front plate must have black characters on a white background
  • The back plate must have black characters on a yellow background
  • The background cannot be patterned
  • The supplier of the reg must be displayed
  • Characters can’t be removable or reflective
  • Characters on reg fitted after September 1st 2021 must be a single shade of black
  • Each reg must be marked with a British Standard number, which is BS AU 145e for plates fitted after September 1st
Number plate standards Jepson graphic

Your number plate can’t be newer than your car

This is the golden rule for number plates and if you have a car from 2002, for example, you can’t put a registration on it with any age identifier that’s newer than this year.

This is so you don’t deceive people and make your car seem newer than it is.

Only buy number plates from a registered supplier

DVLA-registered number plate suppliers are the only way to go when buying number plates for your vehicle. This ensures your registration adheres to British standards and is made correctly and in line with DVLA regulations.

Failure to do so may deem your plates illegal, leading to fines if caught by the police.

When it comes to physical number plates, Jepson & Co Ltd is the oldest number plate manufacturer in the UK, and also our parent company. As a result, you can buy physical number plates when you buy the rights to your reg with National Numbers.

The correct stickers for driving outside the UK

If you’re driving your UK-registered vehicle anywhere else in Europe, except for Ireland, you’ll need a UK identifier (in the form of a sticker) added to your car. Failure to do so could land you with a hefty fine from European authorities.

However, if you already have a Union Jack flag on your number plate, you don’t need to add a sticker to your vehicle.

Buy private number plates with National Numbers

At National Numbers, we’re a DVLA-approved number plate supplier with over 40 years of experience in the industry. Our team knows everything there is to know about UK vehicle registrations, which makes us the best place to secure the personalised plate of your dreams.

To speak to one of our friendly experts, give us a call on 01642 363738. You can also build your own private number plate at our website

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