If you have found yourself googling, ‘Are 3D number plates legal?’, you are in the right place to get your question answered once and for all! Choosing a car modification is an important decision, so we understand that knowing exactly what is allowed for your pride and joy is important.
Modifying your vehicle is a great way of adding style and personality to a standard model. Number plate upgrades equal big business in the UK, with over 6 million personalised plates alone having been distributed by the DVLA over the last 30 years. The world of 3D and 4D number plates is vast, with various modifications available to turn normally provided plates into slick accessories that wouldn’t be out of place on the most contemporary models.
So why is there so much confusion around these upgrades, and should drivers be worried if they choose to have one adoring their vehicles? Let’s find out together in our latest blog post.
What are 3D number plates?
3D plates are impactfully designed number plates which offer a dimensional appearance that is far superior to the standard product. Created by applying industrial strength, long-last resin on top of 3D letters, plates have a distinctive raised character profile that gives a vehicle a modern finish. The outlay of the gel characters provides an easy-to-read finish that is further enhanced by the durable top layer. This also means that 3D numbers are more durable than their standard counterparts.
At Bespoke Plates, the aspects of a 3D number plate that we can personalise are:
- The high-quality gel characters – Available in carbon, glitter, galaxy, or black finishes for a range of legal and show plate options.
- The bordering design on your plate – On our website, you can choose from our variety of 3D plate border styles that are road safe and offer improved visibility.
- Choice of plates – Select the front, back, or both. If the design of your plate is legal, you can amend just one of your plates if you wish.
3D numbers are also commonly used for show purposes. These designs are not road legal but are used for promotions, shows, and events. We always make it super clear which options are permitted so that you do not run into any nasty issues down the line.
3D Number Plates – The Legal Details
To clear up any confusion, 3D plates are 100% LEGAL if you stick to the outlined rules from the DVLA.
The latest update to UK number plate rules was released in 2021. The DVLA created these outlines to improve road safety, minimise the number of illegal vehicle activities, and clear up any confusion drivers were expressing. The industry is worth £2 billion in the UK alone, so it’s not like the government wants the trade to just come to a stand-still. Instead, improving regulations were designed to enhance the industry’s growth by showcasing to consumers how easy it is to be compliant.
As a DVLA-certified producer of number plates, we were thrilled to see these changes come into effect as it added that extra layer of legality supporting trusted businesses like ours. The legal terms that a number plate must adhere to are:
- be made from a reflective material – for road safety
- black display characters on a white background (front plate)
- black display characters on a yellow background (rear plate)
- not have a background pattern – so as not to distort the readability of your plate
- be marked to show who supplied the number plate – to assist with thefts and sourcing queries
- be marked with a British Standard number – this is ‘BS AU 145e’ for plates fitted after 1 September 2021
- The characters must not be removable or reflective. If your number plates were fitted after 1 September 2021, they must also be a single shade of black.
As well as these outlined conditions, custom plates must also display the following:
- have 3D (raised) characters
- display certain flags, symbols and identifiers
- display a green flash if you have a zero-emission vehicle
If the rules have been adhered to, you will be fine. Number plates must also have either a ‘BSAU 145d’or a ‘BSAU 145e’ code applied to them, which can only be completed by a legally certified licence plate vendor. These regulations all work to ensure that number plate modifications still make certain that cars are legally compliant on the road so as not to cause issues for other road users.
Further to the release of new standards in September 2021, in March 2022, more rules were added. These amendments to number plate production reflect not just legal requirements but also have been designed to ensure that vehicles are roadworthy and safer for longer.
These rules mean that all number plates, including 3D designs, must be:
- Additionally toughened to ensure they can withstand hits and destructive materials that can be found on UK roads.
- Only single in colour as two tones are deemed to cause issues when dealing with different light sources and bad weather. Acrylic and gel lettering is still approved, it just needs to be a single tone to be a legal plate. Show plates can, of course, still have more creative designs.
- Location identifiers, including the address and postcode of the supplier, also need to be included.
Why are there so many questions about whether 3D numbers are legal?
One of the reasons that there may be confusion about the legality of 3D number plates is likely to be the ever-changing forms of modifications that are hitting the market. That is why we make it our mission to provide a service which is as clear as possible in terms of what is legal and what can only be used for show plates.
Certain rules also leave slight room for confusion, such as the colouring of characters on plates. It is a misconception that a raised profile can only be achieved through dual colours. However, questions like this can make people concerned about whether their plates are allowed. That is why you should also choose a legally certified DVLA garage to complete the work for you, as the supporting paperwork is just as important as the finished plate itself.
Will a 3D number plate pass an MOT?
As a legally compliant part of your vehicle, we can confirm that certified 3D plates WILL pass an MOT. As an annual test to ensure that all vehicles are suitable for use on UK roads, Ministry of Transport checks are an essential aspect to consider.
The elements that can cause a number plate to fail an MOT check are:
- The number is deemed to not be durable and runs the risk of becoming loose from the vehicle.
- Characters on the number plate are either missing or illegible in accordance with the rules outlined by the DVLA
- The wrong registration details are showing
Furthermore, although the details including supplier name and logos are not checked during an MOT, a well-trained garage will be able to spot these issues and let you know what needs to be amended. If your number plate is deemed to be illegal, not only will you receive a £1000 fine, but your vehicle will also fail its MOT meaning it’s not allowed to be used at all until the issue has been resolved.
What should you expect when you are purchasing a 3D number plate
Another way to tell if your manufacturer is legal or not is during the ordering stages. This is because you should be asked to provide certain documentation, as the legal owner, to meet the DVLA needs that the manufacturer needs to comply with. This process also further anchors the fact that 3D plates are a legal purchase.
When ordering any custom plate, you will need to provide the following:
- Proof that you are the owner using either the V5C or V5CNI logbook, V5C/2 or V5C/2NI new keeper slip, or the V778 certificate.
- A form of ID which proves your name and identity, such as your driving license, passport, or a utility bill
Once your plate has been created and installed, you will also be given supporting paperwork which shows the manufacturer’s details. This can be presented anytime if your plate’s legality is ever mentioned.
Are 3D number plates legal? Yes, they are!
Hopefully, now you understand that these sleek car upgrades are completely legal when carried out by a certified professional. Upgrading your car does not have to cost the price of a new vehicle with these artistic forms of upgrades.
As licensed plate manufacturers, we are always on hand to answer any further questions and share with you exactly what makes your new plate a legal product.
If you still want to find out more, why not give some of our other articles on the topic a read:
Are custom plates legal? https://www.bespoke-plates.co.uk/blog/are-custom-number-plates-legal-in-the-uk/
Are 4D plates legal? https://www.bespoke-plates.co.uk/blog/are-4d-plates-legal/