Personalised plates can mean one of two things – 1. Private registrations that Nationla Numbers sells, and 2. The plastic plates that you put onto your vehicle.
You are probably aware already what you can and can’t have on a private registration, but what many people aren’t aware of are the rules and regulations relating to the plates themselves.
Personalised number plates are just strict as the DVLA’s format for car registrations, and the penalties can be hugely costly if you deliberately or accidentally use an illegal set.
In today’s blog we will address the common myths surrounding personalised plates, and we will tell you exactly what you can and can’t have.
“I can space personalised number plates however I want.”
Many people forget that when you buy a personalised registration you are still buying what is a valid vehicle registration number from the DVLA, and so it is still in format. However, since it is a personalised plate you might still make the assumption that you can modify it to look however you want.
For example, if you buy F511 NGH because your name is Singh then you might want to space it so 511NGH is together, thus spelling the name. It makes sense, but it is illegal as it doesn’t match the official format.
All personalised plates much meet the standard DVLA formats, which have been explained here. Spaces are legally mandated and cannot be omitted, altered or moved.
“I am allowed to use my own images on a personal reg.”
You might have noticed that some plates have a flag on the left side. You might think this is a customisation option and you could potentially have any picture you want in place of that, but unfortunately that is not correct.
Flags act as identifiers and the EU symbol is compulsory for any vehicle travelling through Europe. Like characters and spacing, the size, shape and even colour are mandated by DVLA. The only ones you can have are as follows:
- Union Flag (UK)
- Cross of St George (ENG)
- Cross of St Andrew – also known as the Saltire (SCO)
- Red Dragon of Wales (WALES, CYM)
- Euro Flag (GB)
I have had customers ask for things like the Cornish flag in the past, but even this is not allowed unfortunately.
“It is okay to add my own slogan at the bottom of my number plates.”
If you get number plates from a car dealership you will notice that they will put their name at the bottom. You might this this is them trying to get some free advertising and that if you had your own personalised plates made up you can add your own name or slogan at the bottom.
However, that is not correct. According to DVLA:
The British Standard sets out the characteristics of the number plate. This includes visibility, strength and reflectivity. To meet the British Standard, each number plate must be permanently and legibly marked with the following information.
1. The British Standard number (currently BS AU 145d)
2. The name, trademark or other way of identifying the manufacturer or supplier
3. The name and postcode of the supplying outlet
This is basically so the supplier of the number plate can be held accountable if there is anything wrong with the plate, such as it not being made to legal standards.
The space reserved for the name can be no more than 13mm in height, so is barely visible at a distance, and no other advertisement is allowed.
“Personal number plates don’t have to use the standard sizes and colours.”
Technically, this is sort-of half true if you are talking about the size and shape of the acrylic number plate. Many makes and models even require specially cut and shaped number plates these days, such as the curved Ferrari plates.
Other than this though, DVLA do have set guidelines for the size of the font, the colour of the font, and the material used. All personalised plates must be made of reflective acrylic and must be white on the front and yellow on the back, all with black text.
You couldn’t for example had a red number plate to match your Ferrari, like one customer asked for.
You cannot actually have anything in the background on the number plate. It much be plain white or yellow. Even the honeycomb that some number plate suppliers issue is no longer allowed.
“The font on personalised plates can be changed.”
No matter what personalised number plate you have, no matter the format or the length, every single character on a number plate is deliberately formatted within DVLA’s specifications. You cannot have any variation on the font.
We’ve been through what this format is in the past, but as a summary it is as follows:
- Characters must be 50mmx79mm (except for I/1), and 14mm thick.
- Spaces of 11mm between each character.
- Spaces in the format must be 33mm.
- Margins at the top and bottom must be 11mm.
Even if you have your own personalised number plates made up you cannot change the font if you want to be able to drive the car. It is this way so every number plate on the road can be easily identified. In fact, that is the reason why many of these rules are in place to begin with.
If you are caught violating any of the rules mentioned you could face fines of up to lb1,000 and your MOT will be invalidated, even if you are using personalised plates.
Remember, these are in place to keep you and other drivers as safe as possible. Do not fall for any of these myths, it is not worth it!
By Peter Jepson