show plates

Show plates look great and allow you to personalise your vehicle without modifying the body. But are they legal to use on public roads?

The answer is simple – show plates are illegal to use on public roads and only number plates made to BS AU 145d are legal to use on public roads.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at show plates including their legality and whether you can be fined for using them on public roads.

What are show plates?

Show plates are plates that are used for novelty and decoration. They are popular with car enthusiasts because they allow complete design freedom, allowing you to change the characters, font, font size, font weight, plate size and plate colour away from the standard number plate format which is required by law on public roads.

Show plates are a way to customise a vehicle and make it stand out. They are perfectly legal to use on private land but illegal to use on public roads.

The legality of show plates

‘Show plates’ are so-named because they are only for show. They are not in any way intended to be used on public roads.

Show plates are illegal to use on public roads because they do not conform to the DVLA’s standard for number plates.

At Bespoke Plates, we manufacture show plates for our customers with full disclosure that show plates are only intended for private use.

You can use show plates on private land however you can not legally use them on public roads. This includes ‘hopping’ from private to public land and vice versa. You must change your plates to legal plates before using public roads.

The relevant law for number plate display is The Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001, which sets out the standards for number plates, which are then transcribed under the British Standard BS AU 145d.

Can you be fined for show plates?

Yes, you can be fined for using show plates on public roads, and in 2021 you could be given 3 penalty points!

The fine for being caught using show plates on public roads in 2020 is £100 via a Fixed Penalty Notice with no penalty points.

However, in 2021, you could be given penalty points thanks to new legislation under The Vehicle Registration Offences Penalty Points Bill.

The Vehicle Registration Offences Penalty Points Bill is under review by Parliament and is expected to pass in 2021. It will make using illegal plates on public roads a serious offence with a fine of £100 and 3 penalty points. 

If you’ve had your licence for less than two years, it’s important to remember that if you rack up six or more penalty points you will have your licence revoked. If you’re a more experienced driver, you will receive a driving ban if you rack up 12 or more penalty points and you could end up going to court.

So, keep your show plates off your vehicle and only use them on private land. Using them on public roads is asking for trouble.

If you’re after legal plates to put on your car, check out our 3D number plates and 4D number plates. 

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