With the personalised and custom number plates industry having seen a search increase of 82% in recent months, you may be left thinking, can you make your own number plate? Whilst it may seem as simple as a few characters on a reflective surface, there is much more than goes into your number plate.
This slick upgrade is the perfect way to make your vehicle unique, incorporate a modern finish, and invest in a stylish modification that does not have to cost an outrageous amount. You may think that creating a number plate is a simple process, but many rules and regulations MUST be adhered to for a legal product.
Illegal number plates are still one of the leading motoring offences that result in a fine. To try and combat this, the government released the updated guidelines in 2021, which were designed to make it clear what is deemed as legal and to make number plates harder to recreate.
If the guidelines for a number plate are available for everybody to read, why can’t you just make your own number plate? Continue reading to find out more about the legal side of number plates and just how important having a compliant one is.
Why are number plates so important?
Before you consider how you can obtain a custom plate for your vehicle, it’s important to understand why they have so many rules surrounding them.
Motoring safety is achieved using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras which rely on legal standards plates to process the data successfully. Without a plate being readable, it could result in delays in investigations and errors in terms of assigning fines. Further safety aspects include the reflective quality of the surface, which is needed to support safe driving in bad weather and for easy visibility from pedestrians and cyclists.
Number plates are also one of the ways that a vehicle can be legally identified, which is why any modifications need to be supported by paperwork. As well as confirming who a vehicle belongs to, you can also ascertain origin and age.
With many safety and legal purposes, it is clear to see why making your own plate is not allowed.
What qualifies as a legal number plate?
All number plates must have a BSAU 145d code printed which can only be applied by a legal, DVLA-approved business. Without this mark, or paperwork to confirm that a legally accredited company manufactured it, your plate is not classed as legal. Published back in 1972, the guidelines attached to this unique identifier code encompass all of the safety elements needed to ensure your car is road-worthy and identifiable. For any vehicles made after January 2021, the code has been updated to the BSAU 145e which still holds the same legalities but just represents a newer make. Both are still legal in the UK.
The areas that your number plate must also adhere to are outlined below, which are all design features that we encompass within the creation process at Bespoke Plates.
- 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
Both the BSAU 145d and BSAU 145e guidelines were created in accordance with the British Standards Institute, the number plate component manufacturing and supply industry, and the police. These rules are therefore adhered to with all road-based settings, with the same regulations covering all vehicles.
As well as the above manufacturing rules being included with all number plate production, there is a legal responsibility to include flags, symbols, and identifiers. Without these, your car is again deemed illegal for road use. Only licensed manufacturers are given access to the official artwork and designs for these, which means for professionals, such as the police, it is simple to spot when non-standard markings have been applied.
Custom plates always come to mind when looking at the topic of what number plates are legal (and to the top of the search results!). There are many questions about whether custom number plates are permitted in the first place, which we confirmed in our blog post here that they are if the correct rules have been adhered to. Personalised and short number plates are also legal if they adhere to the legalities outlined above.
Unless number plates are produced by registered experts, it is impossible that all the outlined guidelines have been achieved with exact precision. Legal paperwork and plate registration are also needed when any changes are made. If you cannot show this when your car has other work done or when requested by a legal representative, you will face an automatic fine. We think it’s just not worth it to source an illegal plate or make your own when plenty of garages are around that specialise in this modification.
How do I know if a manufacturer is legally approved by the DVLA?
Just having somebody tell you that their work is legal is not likely to be enough to instil confidence in you, especially knowing what you could do wrong. It is, therefore, important that you do your own research and educate yourself on how to source a legal garage to complete your work.
Once you have found your prospective manufacturer, you should always check that they are legal suppliers of number plates as approved by the DVLA. This information should be available via the website, backed up with legal certificates, and the company should be listed on the DVLA supplier list.
If you are unsure if the company is unable to provide you with any of these legal confirmations, you should not proceed with having a plate manufactured as it could lead you to further trouble in the future.
If your number is found to be illegal, not only will you face a £1000 fine as a minimum, but your vehicle will be classed as not road-worthy, meaning it technically fails its MOT and cannot be driven. At Bespoke Plates, we are proud to be approved number plate suppliers, so you can rest assured that all our products meet all legal needs.
How are number plates made?
Legalities aside, another reason that number plates cannot be made by just anyone is that the process of creating them is very complex. Without using the highest industry standard materials, you risk your plate deteriorating over time. Whether you have chosen a standard, 3D, or 4D plate, the production processes all use state-of-the-art technology and skilled labour to produce the finished result. Our phases for production are:
Design phase. Our website lets you choose the style of the plate that you would like. At the design and ordering phase, we will also cover the legal paperwork side of things to ensure you are happy with our qualifications and for us to ensure that you are the legal owner. You can also contact our team directly if you have more bespoke needs.
Production. Once the design is selected, we produce standard number plates using durable acrylic and HD character printing. For customer plates, at this stage, we cut out the 3D gel or 4D acrylic characters using a precision cutting machine. Depending on the design of your plate, we then carry out the further stages and apply the legal data at this point.
Quality test. Once completely cured, dried, and solidified, we run our final quality checks and remove imperfections. We also test the durability and ensure the plate is ready for installation. This also includes a visual check to ensure no bubbles or marks have been left, along with a final check with our alignment tool to ensure complete legal compliance.
As you can see from these various stages, even producing the plate without considering the legal paperwork side of things is impossible without the right tools.
So should you make your own number plate?
Do you feel more educated on the legal side of number plate production?
Number plates are just one of the legal components that make your car road worthy. Without adhering to the laws of the road, your vehicle is not legally compliant, which will land you in trouble. It’s not worth risking it when so many great manufacturers are ready to make your new number plate.
As with any car modification, choosing the right supplier is paramount. We believe we are the best thanks to our high-end equipment, professional team, and industry knowledge, but it’s also brilliant to see that our customers think the same way. Our five-star reviews on Trustpilot and Facebook let you instantly see how happy people are with their legal, custom plates.
Can you make your own number plate? No, you cannot, but we can make it for you! Our fully legal process provides you with the product and paperwork that you need to drive around with confidence. Check out our full collection here and contact us if you have any questions.