Are Gel Number Plates Legal

Number plates can be special to us, it can be a code that reminds you of a certain time of your life. Maybe you like to make an introduction by having your number plate stand out just that little bit more. Whatever the reason, at Bespoke Plates we understand.

As a leading number plate maker in the UK, from 3D gel number plates to 4D number plates, to regular number plates and electric vehicle number plates, we understand that you may have some questions, the most important one being, are gel number plates legal?

Personalised number plates are becoming increasingly popular, so we want to make sure that you have all of the information you need about gel number plates and if they are right for you.

What is a gel number plate?

A gel number plate refers to a number plate which has its characters altered to achieve a distinct 3-dimensional raised appearance on the words and numbers on the number plate. This is achieved by applying industrial-strength long-lasting resin on top of the 3D characters.

Gel number plates come with the option of 3D plates and 4D plates.

Black 3D Gel
4D Gel

The outlay of the gel characters provides a modern easily readable finish, along with a durable top layer of resin which ensures that the characters are durable as well as readable.

It’s important to mention that as of September 2021 new rules have been implemented to number plating in Great Britain as a result of England’s dissociation with the European Union. Here are the new rulings directly from the UK government. We know that seems worrying especially if you’re considering personalising your number plate, however, at Bespoke Plates, we thoroughly advise you on what plates can be put on your car legally.

We always find it’s better to show you what we mean, head over to our website so you can visualize what your plate could look like. Do you like what you see? we have same-day collections and fittings available.

Are gel number plates legal?

Considering the new ruling around number plating in the UK, it’s not exactly straightforward when it comes to asking ‘are gel number plates legal?’ but we know you’re here for answers.

And the answer is yes… well, sort of.

As long as your number plate follows the guidelines highlighted by the DVLA,  it is 100% legal for gel plates to be used on your vehicle. Customised license plates that fall outside of the rules of the DVLA are still legal to own and can be used as decoration or given as a gift. However, if they are used on a car you can face legal consequences.

The new rulings highlighted by the DVLA are as follows:

  • The plate must be made from a reflective material. This is for road safety, to make sure other road users and authorities such as the police can see your license plate.
  • Black display characters on a white background (front plate)
  • Black display characters on a yellow background (rear plate)
  • No background pattern on the plate, to avoid any distortion in the readability of the plate.
  • Having markings that indicate the number plate supplier. To assist with any sourcing queries or incidents of theft.
  • Be marked with a British Standard number – for plates fitted after September 1st 2021, the British Standard number is ‘BS AU 145e’.
  • Numbers and letters on the plate must not be removable or reflective. From September 1st 2021 all fitted plates must have a single shade of black within the numbering and lettering.

Additionally, custom plates must also display:

  • 3D raised characters
  • Display of certain flags, symbols and identifiers
  • If your vehicle is a zero-emission vehicle, it must display a green flash on the side of the plate.

As of March 2022, further changes have been made to the law regarding number plating (including gel plates) and are as follows:

  • 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.

As a legally certified license plate vendor, we can guarantee that the options you choose for your plate will be within all of the legal parameters outlined by the DVLA, as a result, you will pass the MOT and receive official paperwork to show any time it is requested.  If your customisation falls outside of the previously stated legal parameters, you will fail the MOT and not be legally allowed to use the plate on your vehicle.

You may have a few more questions in regard to the legality of gel plates, if so you should take a look at our blog which tells you all you need to know to make sure your plates are legal, and what to look out for when it comes to illegal plates. For information by the DVLA on private (personalised) number plate registering, buying and selling and other processes, click here.

3D vs 4D plates: What’s the difference?

Although 3D gel plates are a popular option, 4D plates are equally sought after. You might be wondering what the differences are between both plates, the key difference is in how they look and the process that is undertaken to create them both.

The key physical difference between the 3D and 4D plates is in the characters, 4D characters are raised and have a more rectangular look as opposed to the 3D characters, which are slightly less raised and have a rounded look to them.

3D plates are made from acrylic, with the raised characters being made from polyurethane. we ‘stick’ these characters by hand. We use an aligner bar to ensure perfect spacing. On the other hand, 4D plates share the same acrylic base but instead of polyurethane characters, acrylic sheeting is cut by laser creating a thicker and more rectangular character which also has the added benefit of making the number plate more durable than its 3D counterpart.

We also offer the option of 4D gel characters which have a wet look, made in the same way as the 3D characters but with a slightly thicker profile.

To read more on the differences between 3D and 4D plates along with the extra styles we offer on our plates, come and check out our blog page so you know exactly what you want in advance. If you already know the style you’re after or want to see how each style may look with your plate, our website can show you what to expect whilst also giving you a quote so all of the answers you need are instantly available.

Show plates – the difference and risks

At Bespoke Plates we also offer show plates, these can be selected on our website when choosing your style of plate. A show plate is a number plate made for a show with mild to extreme modifications on characters, spacing and more. The plate owner has complete freedom when designing a show plate so much so that we even offer accessories that can be used for your show plate such as a number plate holder.

Whilst we provide show plates to deliver a fun alternative for car enthusiasts or for those who want to personalise their garage, home or business, or as a thoughtful gift for a loved one, we must disclose clearly that show plates are illegal to use on public roads.

4d show plate

Using a show plate on any public road could lead to a fine of £1000 and can also get points added to your license, however, using a show plate on private property is perfectly legal.

With show plates you have more freedom in personalising your plate, the reason it is illegal to use whilst driving on a public road is due to some designs being harder to read for other road users, whilst alternative backgrounds, spacings and character raising can make technologies such as speed cameras and ANPR’s struggle to recognise the plate.

Show plates generally do not fall in the ‘BS AU 145D’ structure making the vehicle’s origin and owner harder to establish, which will put other road users at risk. Our blog site offers insight into show plates and their rules. If you’re considering buying a show plate for yourself or someone else, browse our website for the style you want. We also sell private registrations if that is an option you are interested in.

Want to get in touch?

To get in touch and discuss your plate with one of the members of our team you can e-mail us at or give us a call on 0333 006 7878. You can also choose to visit us in-store at:

36A Broughton Street,
M8 8NN,
United Kingdom

We hope for anyone still wondering ‘are gel number plates legal?’ that we provided all the right answers and options for all of your plate modification needs. We at Bespoke Plates have all the options you can ask for. As an approved license vendor we can guarantee your modification abides by the DVLA rules whilst offering same-day collections and full fitting service.

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