Display of Registration Marks on Number Plates
for Motor Vehicles

VEHICLE REGISTRATION MARKS including marks offered for sale and purchased through DVLA’s Sales of Number Plates Scheme must be displayed in accordance with The Road Vehicles (Display of Vehicle Registration Marks) Regulations 2001 (obtainable from HMSO).

The Regulations specify the typeface, the size, colouring and the British Standard that car number plates must conform to (the alternative provisions for number plates of motorcycles, tricycles and traditional number plates are also shown below).

Normal requirements
All vehicles manufactured after 1.1.1973 must display number plates of reflex-reflecting material, white at the front and yellow at the rear, the characters must be black. In addition, the characters on car number plates purchased from 1.9.2001 will need to conform to the following specifications.

Character height 79 mm
Character width (except the figure 1 or letter I) 50 mm
Character stroke 14 mm
Space between characters 11 mm
Space between groups 33 mm
Top, bottom and side margins (minimum) 11 mm
Space between vertical lines 19 mm

Motorcycles and Tricycles
There are separate vehicle registration provisions for motorcycles and tricycles. Basically motorcycles registered after 1.9.2001 must only display a number plate at the rear of the vehicle. Motorcycles registered before 1.9.2001 can display a normal or private number plate at the front but are not required to.

Tricycles derived from four wheeled bodies i.e. saloon cars must meet the normal requirements above whereas tricycles derived from motorcycles must meet the
requirements for motorcycles.

Number Plate Character height 64 mm
Number Plate Character width (except the figure 1 or letter I) 44 mm
Number Plate Character stroke 10 mm
Space between characters 10 mm on the registration mark
Space between groups 30 mm on the number plates
Top, bottom and side margins (minimum) 11 mm
Space between vertical lines 13 mm

Traditional plates for vehicles constructed before 1 January 1973
Vehicles constructed before 1.1.1973 may display traditional style “black and white”
plates i.e. white, silver or grey characters on a black plate.

Number plates fitted before 1 September 2001
Number plates fitted before 1.9.2001 must display characters that meet the
dimensions shown in one of the two groups below:

Group 1 Group 2
Character height 89 mm 79 mm
Number Plates Character width (except the figure 1 or letter I) 64 mm 57 mm
Number plates Character stroke 16 mm 14 mm
Space between characters 13 mm 11 mm
Space between groups 38 mm 33 mm
Side margins (minimum) 13 mm 11 mm
Top and bottom margins (minimum) 13 mm 11 mm
Space between vertical lines 19 mm 19 mm

Motorists may, if they wish, display the Euro symbol and GB national identifier on the personalised or normal car registration number plate. This will dispense with the need for a separate GB sticker when travelling within the EU.

The symbol must conform to the EC Council Regulation 2411/98 which states the height must be a minimum of 98mm the width must be a minimum of 40mm, maximum of 50mm. The background must be of retro-reflecting blue with 12 retro-reflecting yellow stars at the top and the distinguishing sign of the Member State (GB) in retro-reflecting white
or yellow. An example is shown below:

The Mandatory Typeface

All number plates made after 31.8.2001 must display the mandatory typeface. Number plates made prior to this date
must be substantially the same. An example of the typeface is shown below.


The British Standard Number Plates

The British Standard sets out the physical characteristics of the number plate. This includes visibility, strength and reflectivity. The British Standard also requires each number plate to be permanently and legibly marked with the following information:-

1. The British Standard number (currently BS AU 145d)
2. The name, trade mark or other means of identification of the manufacturer or component supplier
3. Name and postcode of the number plate supplying outlet

It is an offence to alter, rearrange or misrepresent letters or numbers in order to form names or words or in such a way that makes it difficult to read the car registration number by the DVLA or any other law enforcement.

Characters must not be moved from one block to the other e.g. AB51 DVL
must not be displayed as AB5 1DVL or AB 51DVL. Vehicles with illegally displayed number plates may FAIL the MoT test on incorrect number plates. The police can also issue fixed penalty fines for illegally displayed number plates. Offenders are liable to a MAXIMUM
FINE of £1,000 and in some cases the mark may be withdrawn by DVLA.

For vehicles with new or replacement number plates fitted after 31.8.2001, “3-line” number plates are no longer permitted.

Further Information

DVLA has produced a booklet entitled INF46 “Registration Numbers And You” which provides further details.

This is available for download from www.direct.gov.uk/motoring or by writing to Customer Enquiries Vehicles, DVLA, Number Plate Enquiries, Swansea SA7 0EE.