Custom number plates are a sought-after item that brings a bespoke level of individuality and character to any vehicle.
As a leading, established and legally certified provider of number plates, we at Bespoke Plates understand the privilege we have in making your plate an expression of you. So we are here to answer the question “is a custom number plate worth it?”
Are custom number plates illegal?
There is a lot of confusion in even knowing what qualifies as a legal custom plate.
We at Bespoke Plates sell 3D plates, standard registration plates, 4D plates and electric number plates. All of these are made within the legal stipulations that have been outlined by the DVLA. The only exception is in the creation of show plates.
UK number plate laws
In 2021, to educate motorists on the correct standards for number plates, the government released new standards relating to the legal requirements. Whilst these rules did not change dramatically, they did outline in more precise detail the regulations that custom plates need to adhere to.
The conditions that your number plate must meet are:
- be made from a reflective material – for the purpose of road safety
- black display characters on a white background (front plate)
- black display characters on a yellow background (rear plate)
- 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.
- have 3D (raised) characters
- display certain flags, symbols and identifiers
- display a green flash, if you have a zero-emission vehicle
As you can see, the instructions are clear, encompassing both 3D and 4D number plate designs within the approved list. Further recommendations also state the British standard number should be permanently marked, non-retroreflecting, a single colour, and be no less than 3mm x 10mm in size.
Old plate legality
However, any number plates produced before September 2021 will include the ‘BSAU 145d’ code. The rules state that as long as your number plate was legally compliant at the time of purchase, then it will still be the case now. Therefore, the new rules did not omit any previously legal number plates but defined the approved remits in more detail.
As long as your plate was legal when you decided to invest in it, you are fine. Should your plate not be deemed legal, you will be subject to a £1000 and a failed MOT making your car not road-worthy.
These rules also showcase that the controversial opinions around raised numbers do not affect safety. In 2020, there were rumblings that perhaps these forms of number plates may have been made illegal, but it was decided that as long as they are made correctly, they are still safe to use.
2022 plate changes
Further to the release of new standards in September 2021, March 2022 saw three new changes come into force. These amendments to number plate production reflect not just legal requirements but also have been designed to ensure that vehicles are roadworthy for longer due to the cost-of-living crisis.
Number plates have new durability standards.
Plates now need to be tougher and extra-durable to withstand destructive materials that can be found on the road. Encouraging road users to ensure their plates are abrasion free, our 3D and 4D plates are a brilliant example of how you can invest in a customer number plate to ensure your car is compliant.
Two-tone colours have been banned.
Characters must only be in solid block colours for 3D and 4D plates. Acrylic lettering is fine, but solid colours must be used to ensure that the colours are not distorted even when the light hits.
More details are now legally required on plates.
Location identifiers, including the address and postcode of the supplier, also need to be included.
Is a custom number plate worth it?
Now that you’ve seen the legalities involved with number plates, you may feel a bit apprehensive and wondering is a custom plate even worth it?
Well, we at Bespoke Plates can tell you that it is absolutely worth it if you want your car to be unique. As an established and legal plate manufacturer we know what is and isn’t allowed on your plate and will keep you informed as we work to make your plate.
The only instance where you have free reign over your plate customisability is with show plates.
Whilst we provide show plates we must disclose clearly that show plates are illegal to use on public roads. 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. We make mention of this with every purchase and/or installation of show plates.
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.
Driving a vehicle from public to private land with show plates on is also illegal.
Due to the level of customisation offered for a show plate, the colour, or character spacing and formation (and non-compliance of plate coding) will likely be the factors that contribute to it failing an MOT as well as it being illegal to use on a public road.
We can provide regular, 4D or 3D coloured show plates, with whatever colour or design you decide to choose, but this is at your discretion, the legalities we have previously mentioned will be reiterated when you receive your plate.
Bespoke Plates – 3D & 4D Plates
Our most popular options for custom plates are our 3D & 4D plates, here is a brief description of them both.
- 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.
- Characters 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 sheet. This allows the characters to be thicker and more rectangular for a more eye-catching look.
You can also get 4D gel characters which have a ‘wet look’. These are made in the same way as 3D letters but have a thicker profile.
In terms of cost, 4D plates carry a premium over 3D plates up to 20%. The reason 4D plates cost more is because 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 3mm
- 4D 5mm
- 4D Gel
- 4D Glitter Gel
- Carbon 4D Gel
- Krystal 4D
- Krystal Gel
- Carbon Brickwork
- Carbon Galaxy
- Glitter Gel
It’s important to note that with all these different styles, the only thing that changes is the texture and appearance of the characters.
Want to see what we mean rather than read an explanation? 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.
Create your bespoke plate today
As one of the established number plate makers in the UK, we at 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.
So browse our options today to get the plate that speaks to you, and speak for you, with Bespoke Plates. We hope to have answered the question ‘Is a custom number plate worth it?’ whilst providing you with insights into our expert services.
- Email – email@example.com
- Phone – 0333 006 7878
- Visit in-store –
36A Broughton Street,