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Have you seen one of those cool custom number plates yet? Britain loves them and everyone seems to be changing their number plate for a customised 3D or 4D version which adds a sleek look to your vehicle and that cherished private registration. But are they legal?

Are Custom Number Plates Legal In The UK?

We have all seen customised number plates that have left us unsure whether it is legal. In this blog, we will set the record straight as to whether or not customer number plates are legal and provide you with the knowledge needed to assess for yourself.
The fact is that 3D and 4D custom number plates ARE, in fact, legal, but ONLY when the rules laid out in the BS AU 145e 2021 British Standard have been adhered to. According to recent reports, this is not always what consumers receive when they choose to buy a custom number plate, with illegal plates still one of the leading motoring issues in 2022.

Buy Road Legal Custom Number Plates

At Bespoke Plates, we follow all legal requirements with our 3D and 4D  number plates to ensure that you do not encounter any issues with your bespoke design.

What are the legal requirements for custom number plates?

In 2021, to educate motorists on the correct standards for number plates, the government released new standards relating to the legal requirements. Whilst these rules did not change dramatically, they did outline in more precise detail the regulations that customer plates need to adhere to.
The conditions that your number plate must meet are:
  • be made from a reflective material – for the purpose of 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.

Your personalised number plates can also:

As you can see, the instructions are clear, encompassing both 3D and 4D number plate designs within the approved list. Further recommendations also state the British standard number should be permanently marked, non-retroreflecting, a single colour, and be no less than 3mm x 10mm in size.
However, any number plates produced before September 2021 will include the ‘BSAU 145d’ code. The rules state that as long as your number plate was legally compliant at the time of purchase, then it will still be the case now. Therefore, the new rules did not omit any previously legal number plates but defined the approved remits in more detail.
As long as your plate was legal when you decided to invest in it, you are fine. Should your plate not be deemed legal, you will be subject to a £1000 and a failed MOT making your car not road-worthy.
These rules also showcase that the controversial opinions around raised numbers do not affect safety. In 2020, there were rumblings that perhaps these forms of number plates may have been made illegal, but it was decided that as long as they are made correctly, they are still safe to use.

What changed in March 2022?

Further to the release of new standards in September 2021, March saw three new changes come into force. These amendments to number plate production reflect not just legal requirements but also have been designed to ensure that vehicles are roadworthy for longer due to the cost-of-living crisis.

Number plates have new durability standards.
Plates now need to be tougher and extra-durable to withstand destructive materials that can be found on the road. Encouraging road users to ensure their plates are abrasion free, our 3D and 4D plates are a brilliant example of how you can invest in a customer number plate to ensure your car is compliant.

Two-tone colours have been banned.
Characters must only be in solid block colours for 3D and 4D plates. Acrylic lettering is fine, but solid colours must be used to ensure that the colours are not distorted even when the light hits.

More details are now legally required on plates.
Location identifiers, including the address and postcode of the supplier, also need to be included.

Do these changes eliminate my chance of being pulled over?

Whilst the rules are a lot clearer, you may still find yourself standing out due to the prevalence of illegal number plates. As long as you have purchased from a reputable producer who displays their understanding of the legalities, you have nothing to worry about.

Regulations such as the following showcase how confusions still arise:

(1)     No reflex-reflecting material may be applied to any part of a registration plate, and the plate must not be treated in such a way that the characters of the registration mark become or are caused to act as, retroreflective characters.
(F13(1A)   The surface of a registration plate must not comprise or incorporate any design, pattern or texture or be treated in any way which gives to any part of the plate the appearance of a design, pattern or texture.)
(2)     A registration plate must not be treated in any other way which renders the characters of the registration mark less easily distinguishable to the eye or which would prevent or impair the making of a true photographic image of the plate through the medium of camera and film or any other device.’
As a motorist, you should therefore be clued up on what rules affect you so that you are always protected by evidence. Hopefully, as more people come to understand these remits, there will be fewer instances of uncertainty.

Reasons behind custom number plate rules.

The rules for customised number plates in the UK ensure that cars can use the roads safer for the benefit of other road users and pedestrians. If you purchase a non-compliant plate, you are not just breaking the law but also putting other people at risk.
Some of the most common rules that are broken with illegal customer number plates can cause catastrophic effects.
Non-reflective number plates increase the chance of accidents. As well as letting you judge distance better, reflective surfaces make it harder to copy plates illegally. The background colour is also important for allowing drivers to instantly know what direction a car is heading in when visibility may be poor, or lights are not working.
Supplier details help reduce the risk of long-term theft. With over 100,000 car thefts recorded in 2021, thefts are still a significant road issue. Supplier information helps track a car’s history and also discourages thieves.
Improved visibility thanks to solid colours. Solid characters that are easy to read reduce the risk of hit-and-run accidents by ensuring the traffic cameras can successfully pick up the number plate details. If customer plates do not feature these numbers and letters, it could cause delays in crimes being solved.
Custom number plates should also always be mounted professionally as often illegal number plates are not fixed with the correct support. We provide the option of installing all of our plates and also sell professional accessories for fixing.

Can you trust customer number plates supplier Bespoke Plates?

Of course you can! Check out over 700 reviews on our Trust Pilot page and our 5 star rating.
We have supplied thousands of custom number plates which is also reflected in our popular Instagram page.
We want to be able to promote the art of custom plates as a way to add personality to your car. To do this, we comply with all standards and explain to our customers the reasons behind our personalisation options.
As well as using industrial quality materials, we also work to precise detail when creating your customer 3D and 4D plates. Each of our team members are not just highly skilled but also passionate about creating sleek plates for vehicles; as such, we understand the attached responsibility.

We also provide plates for show cars which are not legal but can be used for shows and events. These plates do not feature the legal information required for road usage, and we would never recommend using your car for travel when these are attached.


Whilst the world of custom number plates may still be a grey area, the rules provide peace of mind that modifications are okay as long as you stick to regulations. Our vehicles are an extension of our lives, so being able to enhance them affordably will remain a popular activity for years to come.
The DVLA’s INF104 leaflet is a brilliant source of detailed information that can help you further.
Our team is always on hand to settle any worries you may have. We will not stop our mission to educate and will continue to make our consumers happy with sleek products.
Arm yourself with the facts and enjoy your custom number plate for years to come!
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