Can You Drive With One Number Plate in the UK?

With plate modification becoming an ever more popular option for those looking to add a unique look to their car, gel plates (both 3D & 4D) are becoming the go-to customisation option.

But there may be those who are concerned about their plate placement who may be thinking ‘Can you drive with one number plate in the UK?’

Bespoke Plates is here to answer that question, whilst providing you with information that will make you realise the rules around plating, as well as the value that our affordable customisation options can grant you.

Whether it’s a standard number plate, a private plate, an electric number plate, or our gel plates, we can help you with all of your plating needs.

The importance of number plates

Number plates serve as a form of identification for your vehicle. It helps to identify the age and history of your vehicle in terms of maintenance, MOT, road infractions and more. Without number plates, we wouldn’t be able to differentiate cars of the same model.

Number plates can also serve to help in legal proceedings as the license plate helps to trace a vehicle involved in any situation, back to its current owner. Unfortunately, plate theft/cloning can sometimes complicate this instance.

What are number plates made from?

A standard UK number plate is made from acrylic. Here are the benefits that acrylic holds that make it the ideal material for a number plate.

  • Acrylic is resistant to variations in temperature, which is ideal for driving in the UK where temperatures are known to fluctuate.
  • It has a high resistance to many chemicals, some of which your car may drive through (whether it’s in the air or on the road)
  • It is very lightweight, which helps maintain the balance of the vehicle it is placed on.
  • It holds up to 17 times the impact resistance of ordinary glass, making it quite generally durable.
  • Ideal for precise machining, meaning it can be shaped with little effort.

What are the different styles of number plates?

3D, 4D and show plates present an alternative to your standard number plate. 3D and 4D plates are legal (as long as they are installed by a certified plate vendor). Show Plates are not legal to use whilst driving and can only be used for display purposes.

Can you drive with one number plate in the UK?

According to the rules from the DVLA. you must have a number plate on the front and back of your vehicle. The rules specify that front plates must have black display characters on a white background, whilst rear plates must have black display characters on a yellow background.

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.

Here are some additional legal terms that a number plate must adhere to are:

  • be made from a reflective material – for road safety
  • 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, as long as your custom plate is created and installed by a legally certified licence plate vendor.

These regulations all work to ensure that number plate modification can still take place whilst making sure cars are legally compliant on the road so as not to cause issues for other road users and plate reading systems.

Can I drive with one plate if my bumper is broken?

You should never drive without your number plates. At a stretch, the only exception may possibly be if you were taking your vehicle’s plate to be repaired back on the front or rear bumper. That being said, we must highlight this is at the discretion of the officer if you ever find yourself pulled over in this specific situation.

Can I install my number plate myself?

It is entirely possible for you to install or re-attach your number plate yourself. Though it must be done to a rigorous standard, this means that it has to be securely placed without any possibility that it can move or be moved with force.

The reason for this is that your number plates are checked as part of your MOT, one of the stipulations in order for you to pass is your plate being securely attached, along with it displaying properly placed characters.

As a certified license vendor, Bespoke Plates provides a variety of plates, and we also have a full fitting service.

3D and 4D gel plates

A ‘gel plate’ refers to a licence plate with slightly exaggerated characters that differ from a standard licence plate. Gel plates can come in the form of 3D, or 4D plates.

For those looking to add character, impact and a sleek appearance to their car, 3D & 4D plates have seen a surge in popularity as car modification has become common. Their popularity is not only because of their unique and Bespoke look but also their increased durability.

3D plates

  • Characters placed by hand
  • Acrylic plate – polyurethane letters
  • Rounded-raised characters with a wet, gel-like look

3D plates are made from acrylic with individual raised letters. The raised letters are manufactured from polyurethane and get ‘stuck’ to the acrylic plate by hand. An aligner bar is used to guarantee perfect spacing.

The rounded and shiny gel-like appearance of 3D plates makes them a great choice if you want to add understated personalisation to your vehicle.

4D plates

  • Characters are placed by hand
  • Acrylic plate – acrylic letters (laser cut)
  • Rectangular and deep raised characters

4D plates are also made from acrylic, but instead of polyurethane characters they use professionally laser cut characters made from acrylic sheets. This allows the characters to be thicker and more rectangular for a more eye-catching look.

4D plates carry a premium over 3D plates by up to 20%. The reason 4D plates cost more is that the individual characters are laser cut, or they are of the thicker gel variety. In the case of laser-cut, the characters are also made to order in-house.

The 3D and 4D plates we offer are available in several styles:

4D plate options

  • 4D 3mm
  • 4D 5mm
  • 4D Gel
  • 4D Glitter Gel
  • Carbon 4D Gel
  • Krystal 4D
  • Krystal Gel

3D plate options

  • Black
  • Carbon Brickwork
  • Carbon Galaxy
  • Glitter Gel

The best place for legal number plates

We hope for anyone still wondering ‘Can you drive with one number plate in the UK?’ that we provided all the right answers and options for all of your plate modifications, or replacement needs.

Bespoke Plates have all the options you can ask for, as an approved licence vendor we can guarantee your modification abides by the DVLA rules whilst offering same-day collections and full fitting service.

To get in touch and discuss the full fitting service we offer with our plates you can talk to one of the members of our team by:


Phone 0333 006 7878

Visit in-store

36A Broughton Street,



M8 8NN

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