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The most important point to remember is that it is an offence to rearrange your registration number to make it resemble a name or word more closely.

Remember, the actual reason for displaying registration numbers on vehicles is so the keeper can be identified easily for law enforcement purposes.

Number Plates on Cars, Vans and Four Wheeled Vehicles

Font Size, Measurements and Spacing

Front number plates must show black characters on a white background and the rear number plate must have black letters on a yellow reflective background.

The specific number plate sizes and measurements are as follows:

  • Height of characters: 79mm
  • Width of characters: 50mm (except for '1' or 'I')
  • Space between characters: at least 7mm. This will be compulsory from September 2021. 11mm being the standard prior to this date.
  • Space between groups: 33mm

Number Plates on Motorcycles

Font Size, Measurements and Spacing

Motorcycles registered from September 1st 2001 must only display a number plate at the back.

The law around number plates and motorcycles is as follows:

  • Height of characters: 64mm
  • Width of characters: 10mm (except for '1' or 'I')
  • Space between characters: 10mm
  • Space between groups: 30mm

Number Plates on Tricycles

Tricycles manufactured from motorcycles must follow the above requirements for motorcycles, whereas tricycles made from four-wheeled vehicles (e.g. quad bikes) must meet the requirements of these vehicles.

Backgrounds, Identifiers, Flags and Fonts

Honeycomb backgrounds are illegal on number plates but 3D lettering and a border are allowed for your car reg. The following flags are permitted on UK number plates:

  • Union Jack
  • St. George Cross
  • St. Andrew Cross (or Saltire)
  • Welsh Dragon
Union Jack St. George Cross St. Andrew Cross Welsh Dragon

The following identifiers are also allowed on number plates in the UK:

  • GB
  • UK
  • CYM
  • ENG
  • SCO

The various identifiers must be displayed on the left hand side of the number plate. The flag must be placed above the identifier, neither of which can be more than 50mm wide.

The Euro Flag and Displaying the Standard GB Sticker

Prior to January 2021, UK cars were allowed to have an EU flag on their number plates.

However, as a result of Brexit, from January 2021, the EU symbol will not be permitted on UK number plates.

If you have number plates issued before this date, then you don't need to worry, as this rule only applies to registrations manufactured AFTER December 31st, 2020.

If you want to swap your number plates for registrations without the EU flag, you can do so here. Although, it's not a necessity unless they were purchased after December 31st 2020.

From December 31st, 2020, UK-registered cars will also be required to display a GB sticker when driving in any of the 27 EU countries. However, this is not necessary if you want to drive in Ireland.

Last updated: Thursday 17th December 2020

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