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Personalised number plate rules explained

Date: Tue 16th October 2018   |   Author: L Blake

Personalised Number Plate Rules Explained

The popularity of personalised number plates continues to grow in the UK, with as many as 335,000 personalised registrations sold per year according to the latest figures. Despite this, many are still unaware of the various number plate rules and regulations. In this article, your helpful team at AutoProtect tries to uncover the dos and don’ts that come with owning a personalised number plate.

Choosing a personalised number plate

You can buy any available number plate for your vehicle as long as it’s in a format that has been used previously in the UK. The number plate must also not make your car appear newer than it actually is. For example, if your car was bought in 2010, you would be able to have number plate showing 08, but you wouldn’t be able to have a 12 number plate.

All available number plates are detailed on the DVLA Registrations site where you can search for your desired plate.

You can buy a personalised number plate directly through the DVLA either by bidding in an auction when fresh number plates become available or by using their resale platform. You can also buy number plates via a number plate reseller who often offer finance packages and sort all of the relevant paperwork on your behalf.

Ensuring you adhere to personalised number plate rules

All number plates in the UK must be a specific shape, size and format in order for them to meet regulations set out by the Department of Transport. This is to ensure that they can be read clearly by the naked eye and by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems. Failure to adhere to Government number plate rules and regulations can result in a fine of up to £1000.

According to the Government, all private number plates should adhere to the following rules:

  • The number plate should be made of reflective material.
  • The front plate must display black characters on white background.
  • The back plate must display black characters on a yellow background.
  • The number plate must not have a background pattern.
  • All plates must follow the same standard font as outlined:
  1. characters must be 79mm tall
  2. characters must be 50mm wide
  3. the thickness of the characters must be 14mm
  4. the space between must be 11mm
  5. the space between age identifier and random letters must be 33mm
  6. margins must be 11mm.

In addition, the only emblems which may legally be altered or added are an England, Wales, Scotland, European or Union flag in a blue panel to the side of the number plate. These may have the relevant abbreviation written underneath.

You’re also allowed to make the letters and digits appear in a 3D font, as long as the letters are written in the correct font. There are no restrictions on the border of your number plate as long as it is non-reflective and doesn’t intrude on the letters. 

Common number plates that break the law

Despite the fact that the Government has the power to issue fines of up to £1000 for number plates that fail to meet guidelines, many drivers still try and flaunt the rulebook. Some of the most common number plates rule breakers include:

  • Number plates with fonts outside those outlined, including fonts in italic. These are often not picked up by Automatic Number Plate Readers.
  • Character alterations that make certain letters look like different letters. These are often used to try to make a number plate appear more like a person’s name.
  • Sports emblems displayed either to the side of the registration number or as a background image.
  • Background images or patterns.

How do you assign your number plate to your vehicle?

You can assign your new number plate to your vehicle by filling out a Government form either online or through the post, details of which can be found here. To do this you’ll need one of the following documents which you get when you either buy a number plate or transfer one from another vehicle:

  • a V778 retention document
  • a V750 certificate of entitlement
  • an online reference number.

Once that’s taken care of all you have to do then is put the new number plates on your vehicle and tell the insurance company your new registration number.