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What Number Plates Are Legal In The UK?

As a road user in Britain, it is imperative you understand the requirements that constitute a number plate’s legality and what can render a registration plate non-compliant.

If you cannot tell the difference, you run the risk of punishment, including fines being issued by the Police.

Background & Latest Regulations

The current British Standard for UK number plates is 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.

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

Number plates must have characters that comply with the criteria set out in BS AU 145e.

The characters must be solid black in the prescribed Charles Wright typeface, and they need to comply with the rules governing size, spacing, grouping and positioning.

Number plates may optionally have raised 3D characters of plain black colour (known as “4D” number plates), provided that they meet all requirements of the British Standard.

Number plates MUST have the following features:

  • They must be the correct size as specified in the rules.
  • The background of front plates must be the prescribed reflective white colour and rear plates must be the prescribed reflective yellow colour.
  • They must have reflective properties complying with British Standard BS AU 145e.
  • They must have physical resilience properties complying with British Standard BS AU 145e.
  • They must display solid black characters in the prescribed Charles Wright typeface that comply with the rules governing size, spacing, grouping and positioning.
  • They must bear the supplier’s name and postcode and the manufacturer’s mark.
  • They must bear the current British Standard number, BS AU 145e.

They MUST NOT have any of the following:

  • Any background colour, pattern or texture except the plain reflective colours specified in the rules and the British Standard;
  • Any font or typeface except the regulation Charles Wright typeface;
  • Any character colour, shading, effect or texture except solid black;
  • Any text, except that which is required or is specifically allowed by the rules;
  • Any badge, emblem image or graphic element not expressly allowed by the rules;
  • Any coating, treatment or another measure that may affect the reflective properties or legibility of the number plate, either visually or by number plate recognition technology;
  • Any screws, bolts or other objects that alter the appearance of characters or interfere with legibility.

Plates MAY optionally have the following:

  • Raised 3D characters of plain black colour (known as “4D” number plates) provided that they meet all requirements of British Standard BS AU 145e;
  • A coloured border as allowed by the rules;
  • A national flag/emblem as specifically allowed by the rules;
  • National identifier letters as specifically allowed by the rules.
  • Fully electric/zero-tailpipe-emissions vehicles may optionally display the approved green ‘flash’ or panel at the left-hand end of the number plate.

If the registration is spaced correctly and the British Standard is adhered to, the following number plate styles are considered road legal.

  • Standard Printed Plates
  • 4D Plates (Acrylic) – Aplates offer these in 3mm & 5mm depths
  • 4D Gel Plates – Aplates offer these in 3mm & 5mm depths
  • 3D Gel Plates
  • 4D Krystal Plates (characters have coloured backgrounds)
  • 4D Neon Gel Plates (characters have coloured backgrounds)
  • 4D Carbon Gel Plates (characters aren’t a solid black colour)
  • 3D Carbon Gel Plates (characters aren’t a solid black colour)

What Are Show Plates?

Show plates are illegal for use on public UK roads – they are strictly intended for Show purposes only, e.g. car roadshows.

Following the latest iteration of the British Standard (BSAU 145e), various number plate styles (including 4D Krystal, 4D Neon Gel and Carbon Gel) are no longer road legal in the UK.

Consequently, Aplates strictly sell these as Show plates. This means they are printed without our manufacturer details and the British Standard.

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