Personalised number plates are an affordable way to add real individuality to your vehicle, helping you to show a little character on the roads. They can often be completely unique and, over time, can become very valuable, making them an attractive investment for many drivers across the world.
But with numerous laws and regulations surrounding the manufacturing and creation of number plates, it has led many to ask the question, “can I design my own number plates?”.
Want to know more about how you can design your own number plates legally and risk-free? Continue reading!
Is It Legal To Make Your Own Number Plates?
Those with a stronger artistic streak may want to take personalising their vehicle a step further by creating their own custom number plates. Whilst this may seem like a cost-effective alternative to getting a professionally-made plate, it can actually cause more issues for you in the future, legally and practically.
Attempting to make your own number plates can be illegal without proper documentation. When you purchase new licence plates online, you are not only paying for the physical product but also for the licensing and paperwork attached to the plate.
We also found that number plates must have either a ‘BSAU 145d’ or ‘BSAU 145e’ code applied to them, which can only be completed by a legally certified licence plate vendor. Without this, criminals can forge your plates and victims may only find out that they have been victimised once the police apprehend them.
On average, there are around 25,000 number plate thefts a year; whether thieves choose to take the actual plate or copy it, victims can find themselves stuck with their only source of aid being the documentation that they have for their plates. By making your own, you do not have any paperwork to prove that you actually own it and are who you say you are, making it much harder for you to protect yourself.
Practically speaking, custom number plates can sometimes be an issue to install onto cars. We found that for the best results, you must ensure that the area underneath the plate is clean and debris free. Failure to do so could result in the plates not being fitted as securely as possible, which can make them a hazard to you and other drivers if it were to come off.
Besides these issues, there are still official regulations that need to be met. The following list details all specifications that must be met for the plate itself to be legal:
- Be made from a reflective material.
- Black display characters on a white background (front plate).
- Black display characters on a yellow background (rear plate).
- Not have a background pattern.
- Be marked to show who supplied the number plate.
- Be marked with a British Standard number.
- Plates must be made from durable materials.
- Only single colours are allowed.
Whilst it is technically possible to make your own plate, you would not be able to use it, as it would have no registration or licensing that can determine who owns it.
Can You Put A Custom Number Plate On Any Car?
In the UK alone, there are over 45 million private number plates, equating to more than two for every three people in the country. It is one of the most popular ways of changing the cosmetics of your car whilst still ensuring that it looks modern and polished, which is one of the lead driving factors for its spike in popularity in recent years. With so many plates being used, it’s inevitable that they were placed on a range of different vehicles – but can a custom number plate be put on any car?
Simply put, no – you cannot put a custom number plate on any car. In the UK, number plates have a number to show how old the vehicle is, and changing the number plate can sometimes affect how old the vehicle seems. This can be seen as forgery or fraud if done for the purpose of upselling the vehicle and making it seem younger than advertised.
The main criteria for installing a custom number plate is that the registration number must be registered before the car was first registered. By doing so, you keep the dates in line and accurately advertise your vehicle to potential buyers. This can make it easier for you to sell your vehicle as the whole process can be streamlined and progressed faster with fewer issues and complications. If you were to install a custom number plate that misled potential buyers, it can slow down the original sale and lead to legal action and potential criminal charges.
Research suggests that one in ten adults will fall victim to a scam or fraud every year; according to the Federal Trade Commission, this number jumped by 34% in 2018, with a continuous growth annually. Making sure that car plates and car dates match up is the best way to protect yourself from car-related scams, and ensuring that your plate does not falsely advertise the age of your car is the best way to prevent accidentally committing one.
As long as the plate is not misleading in relation to the age or model of the car, you should be okay to put it on most vehicles. However, it’s also important to check that all of your insurance and registrations are in order before taking it on the road too.
Can I Change The Layout Of My Number Plate?
Whilst a private licence plate is a cosmetic in itself, many like to customise it to further differentiate themselves from other cars on the road. With a range of different ideas and methods to choose from, the possibilities of customising your number plate are endless.
Changing a number plate layout can be a tempting modification for any car enthusiast; not only can it look cool, but it may also make the car more unique which can make it more valuable. Although there are some things that you can do to your number plate, there are many more that you cannot, and you must be careful to adhere to these rules.
One of the many things that you cannot do to your number plate is change the layout.
Correctly spaced number plates are essential for all vehicles in the United Kingdom. It helps to make the plates easier to read, and the standardisation of this rule makes it easier to identify and track plates and their owners to ensure no crime is committed. Following this rule is vital, as if you attempt to modify the spacing on your number plate, you will be committing a crime.
We found that normally, in relation to the number plate, the size of the number plate does not matter, so long as the correct font, font size and character spacing is used. As one of the most important points on the criteria for registrations, it is crucial that it is adhered to and spacing is not changed. Unlike other cosmetic modifications available, there is no leeway with your number plate – the specifications must be met.
Surveys conducted on road safety issues found that one in five of the 1,094 UK drivers surveyed admitted to breaking one type of road safety law. With insurance and practical laws such as cosmetic implementation one of the most common laws broken, it’s extremely important that people look to the guidelines of the DVLA to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy and not breaking any practical law such as plate spacing.
To answer the question, you cannot change the layout of your number plate. Last year there were 6,000 motorists caught speeding every day in the UK; changing the spacing, colouring or shape of your licence plate can make it harder to identify your car on the roads, which removes the threat of prosecution for growing crimes like this. This can lead to greater hazards on the road and can make it more complicated for law enforcement to read the plates of potentially dangerous drivers. This is why it has been deemed illegal.
Conclusion – Can I design my own number plates?
In essence, you cannot make your own road-worthy number plates, nor can you alter existing ones without permission and guidance from an authoritative body. If you were to try to, you could risk breaking the DVLA’s guidelines for number plates and therefore the road laws, which can result in criminal charges and punishments.
However, because plate legality is dependent on the plates meeting this standard, you should aim to purchase them from a trusted, registered number plate supplier such as Bespoke Plates.
Bespoke Plates are the UK’s leading number plate maker for specialised and custom-ordered plates, with a nationwide reputation that precedes their quality work. Supported with glowing reviews and recommendations online, Bespoke Plates provides an innovative and quality service with a range of products and services available.
For more information, contact a member of our team and find the product for you.