Number Plates In The UK: Know The Laws

Many people might not give too much consideration to the number plates on their car.  Yet the fact is, they are actually governed by quite a lot of strict rules and regulations, as set out by the DVLA.  If you weren’t number plate savvy before, then read on to get all the information you need.

Some basic facts

The DVLA states that you need to be registered on their Register of Number Plate Suppliers (RNPS) in order to manufacture number plates.

The rules are very precise for number plates.  They must fit with the British Standard and have the same colouring, typeface and size.  They must show the company that made the number plate and the name and postcode of the supplying outlet.

Number plate law also dictates that a vehicle must have a number plate both on its front and its rear.

On the front number plate, the letters should be black on a white plate.

On the rear number plate, the letters should be black on a yellow plate.

According to number plate law, the background surface should also be reflex-reflecting, although this doesn’t need to apply to the letters.

Number plates before and after September 2001

Number plate law varies slightly depending on whether the plates were fitted before or after 1st September 2001.  This is based on the dimensions for various aspects, such as space between characters, character height and width, and space between groups.

This also differs for any vehicles that were manufactured before 1st January 1973.

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What about other vehicles?

The above number plate law refers to motor vehicles, but to confuse matters even further, the rules are different for motorcycles and tricycles.

Motorbikes and tricycles are required to display a number plate at the rear of the vehicle.

However, motorcycles and tricycles that are two or three wheeled and have a body type of a four-wheeled vehicle must show both a number plate at the front and the rear of the vehicle.

Vehicles registered after 1st September 2001 need to display a two-line number plate, and those vehicles registered before this date must display a three-line number plate.  Number plates with just one-line on them are illegal.

Flags on number plates

Vehicles registered in the UK are allowed to display a Euro flag on their number plate, since 1st September 2001.  This symbol is located on the left hand side of the number plate, and represents the joining of the European Union.

The Government has also allowed the use of national flags on vehicle number plates.

Other considerations

Number plate law also dictates that you can’t alter or change the letters or numbers on the plates.  Characters also can’t be moved from one group to the other.  No images (apart from the allowed flags) can be displayed on the plates, for example, football teams.  Screws or fixings should not be used so that they misrepresent letters or numbers.

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