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Are Short Number Plates Road Legal?

At Aplates, we are regularly asked, ‘Are shortened number plates road legal?’. So, to put it simply, the answer is YES.


As a DVLA-registered manufacturer and supplier of number plates, we have to ensure all of our plates meet the British Standard.

The current British Standard for UK number plates is the BS AU 145e. This became mandatory on 1st September 2021 and all number plates manufactured, sold or fitted from that date must therefore comply.

The new British Standard ‘e’ builds upon BS AU 145d to ensure public safety and security through ANPR camera readings and harder, more resilient plates being produced.

Our registration plates are 100% UK road legal and MOT compliant, as they adhere to the aforementioned standards.

What are short number plates?

As the name suggests, short plates are simply number plates which have been reduced in length.

A standard sized number plate in the UK measures at 520mm x 111mm, and they are often referred to as 20-inch plates.

Shortened number plates measure at the same height, but they are offered in various widths.

Therefore, short plates are very distinctive on the roads – especially with shorter registrations.

The most common short plates offered on the market are:

  • 18-inch Oblong (7 Characters Maximum): 462mm x 111mm
  • 16-inch Oblong (6 Characters Maximum): 405mm x 111mm
  • 14-inch Oblong (5 Characters Maximum): 355mm x 111mm

According to the British Number Plate Manufacturers Association, there are numerous guidelines which number plate suppliers need to adhere to.

Mandatory elements of a number plate design:

Rules for number plate characters:

  • characters must be 79mm tall
  • characters (except the number 1 or letter I) must be 50mm wide
  • the character stroke (the thickness of the black print) must be 14mm
  • the space between characters must be 11mm
  • the space between the age identifier and the random letters must be 33mm
  • the margins at the top, bottom and side of the plate must be 11mm
  • vertical space between the age identifier and the
  • random letters must be 19mm.

Please see the Government’s INF104 leaflet for more information.

Provided the aforementioned guidelines are adhered to, there is nothing to suggest number plates need to be produced to a certain size.

Therefore, shortened number plates are 100% UK road legal and MOT compliant.

Here at Aplates, we offer various-sized number plates so you can customise your order to your exact specification.

At Aplates, our plates undergo vigorous testing procedures to ensure they adhere to each and every legal parameter set out by the DVLA. Our evaluation includes a state-of-the-art ANPR camera test, meaning you can rest assured we comply with Police regulations. Wiltshire Police have even visited to test our number plates, and as we passed with flying colours, we can guarantee our commitment to the British Standard.

By choosing our shortened number plates, you can rest assured that you won’t face any issues with the Police, MOT testing stations, VOSA, or the DVLA, as our plates undergo vigorous testing procedures to ensure they comply with each and every legal parameter defined in the law.

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