What is the law on displaying a number plate?

The DVLA have very strict laws on how a number plate should be displayed. It is essential that number plates are visible so that they can be recognised easily if there has been a road accident, if a camera catches you speeding or even if a vehicle needs to be found in the case of theft.

Without a number plate, it would not be possible to differentiate between vehicles which could cause a whole host of problems. As years have gone on, the DVLA have implemented more rules in-regard to how a number plate should look, therefore it is vital that you know exactly how your plate should be displayed. If your plate is not displayed properly then you could face a fine. If you are still looking to get your car registered than you can use car registrations online service by MyReg.

Displaying a number plate

All cars in the UK have to display a number plate on both the front and the rear of the vehicle. The front plate must have a white background, whilst the rear plate has a reflective yellow background. In both cases, there must be no pattern added to the background as this could distract from the characters.

Additionally, all number plates must use the standard ‘Charles Wright’ font that the DVLA issue on regular plates. The only other option available is the 3D effect version of the ‘Charles Wright’ font, any italics or other fonts are not legal. You must also ensure there is nothing blocking any of the characters such as a sticker, bolt or anything else. This will make it harder to police and cameras to read the vehicle plate clearly.

Character spacing

On top of the regulations in regard to how to plate should be displayed, the DVLA also have a set of rules about the spacing of the character and layout of the plate.

To begin with, there has to be a gap between the first four character and the last three, and this gap has to be 33mm wide. The gap between the characters that are together in the same grouping is 11mm. Each individual character must be 79mm high and 50mm wide, this is except for the letter I and the number 1 and the width of the stroke is 14mm. There are also rules regarding the spacing between the characters and the border of the number plate.

Symbols and logos

One of the most commonly unknown facts is that you are not allowed to display any symbols or logos on a number plate, such as the badge of the car make or the logo of your favourite football team.

The only symbols allowed on a number plate are the following national emblems:

-British Union flag

-English flag

-Welsh flag

-Scottish flag

-Euro flag

Historic vehicles

There are different rules in place for historic vehicles as they do not follow the same number plate system. Many historic vehicles made before the 1970s had a dateless number plate with fewer characters which makes them extremely sort after and valuable.

If you have a historic vehicle, or vintage car, then you will be allowed to display the number plate in the old style. This consists of a black plate with either white or silver writing. If you are looking for a cheaper option, you can purchase a plastic plate similar to the ones today. Otherwise, if you are looking to splash out on a more authentic look, you can opt to purchase the traditional metal construction.