Is It a Crime to Clone Plates?

As an established personalised and replacement plate provider, we at Bespoke Plates understand the issues that may become apparent when owning a vehicle. One of these issues is cloning plates. But is it a crime to clone plates? In this article, we will be exploring that question.

What is plate cloning? Is it a crime to clone plates?

A cloned plate is when a number plate from a car in use, is replicated and attached to another vehicle in order to avoid paying for tolls or parking. But more sinisterly, it can be used to hide the identity of a car being used in illegal crime. Essentially stealing the identity of your car in order to hide theirs.

It is a crime to clone plates, if caught with a cloned plate you can be fined and/or charged depending on the circumstances. Over a 1000 motorists contacted the DVLA about their vehicles being wrongly linked to offences. So what should you do if it happens to you?

According to Autotrader, here is what you can do if your plates have been cloned.

How can you tell if a car has been cloned?

To avoid buying a cloned car, you should:

  • Make sure the number plate matches the VIN number and the registration number on the V5 document
  • Get a vehicle check on Auto Trader to check the car’s full history which includes details about any plate changes
  • Avoid purchasing a car in cash as this makes the transaction between you and the seller untraceable.

What to do if your number plate has been cloned?

If you get wrongly fined for a road offence, it’s possible your number plates have been cloned. In such a case, you should:

  • Collect as much evidence as possible that proves you didn’t commit the crime such as CCTV footage or GPS data
  • Contact the police so that they can catch and prosecute the person impersonating you
  • Contact the DVLA with your crime reference number to inform them you’ve been wrongly fined
  • Return any fines or correspondence that you’ve received for the offence to the issuing authority

How do I avoid my number plate from getting cloned?

You can take a few steps to reduce your chances of number plate cloning:

  • Purchase number plates from a supplier registered with the DVLA – looking for cheap but dodgy suppliers can land you in trouble down the line
  • Personalised number plates have a lesser chance of being cloned due to their distinctiveness
  • Keep photos of your car. Differences such as dents, scrapes or unique modifications on your car can help distinguish it from the car committing the crime. This can serve as evidence to help you avoid paying fines and penalties.
  • A dash camera can help track your whereabouts and serve as evidence as well
  • Never share your V5C logbook or the 11 or 12-digit reference number on it with anyone online  

Can gel plates be cloned?

At Bespoke Plates, the technology needed to clone a gel plate makes it difficult to replicate. Firstly, the plate cloner would need to see if it’s a 3D or 4D plate, and then replicate it whilst abiding by the specific dimensions we have to use by law.

The time, effort and technology needed to replicate this would be too time-consuming for any plate cloner, which is why they opt for standard registration plates to clone.

On the rare occasion that our gel plates are cloned, for an added layer of security, we provide official documents for you to prove your gel plates are from a legally certified producer of private plates. This gives you the peace of mind you need from cloned plates.

Are gel plates legal?


With show plates being the only exemption, our gel plates, both 3D and 4D are fully compliant with the specified legalities that should be observed when making a plate, as the number 1 plate maker, we have standards to stick to, and one of them is to keep our customers stress free!

As long as your number plate follows the guidelines highlighted by the DVLAit is 100% legal for gel plates to be used on your vehicle. Customised license plates that fall outside of the rules of the DVLA are still legal to own and can be used as decoration or given as a gift. However, if they are used on a car you can face legal consequences.

The new rulings highlighted by the DVLA are as follows:

  • The plate must be made from a reflective material. This is for road safety, to make sure other road users and authorities such as the police can see your license plate.
  • Black display characters on a white background (front plate)
  • Black display characters on a yellow background (rear plate)
  • No background pattern on the plate, to avoid any distortion in the readability of the plate.
  • Having markings that indicate the number plate supplier. To assist with any sourcing queries or incidents of theft.
  • Be marked with a British Standard number – for plates fitted after September 1st 2021, the British Standard number is ‘BS AU 145e’.
  • Numbers and letters on the plate must not be removable or reflective. From September 1st 2021 all fitted plates must have a single shade of black within the numbering and lettering.

Additionally, custom plates must also display:

  • 3D raised characters
  • Display of certain flags, symbols and identifiers
  • If your vehicle is a zero-emission vehicle, it must display a green flash on the side of the plate.

As of March 2022, further changes have been made to the law regarding number plating (including gel plates) and are as follows:

  • Additionally toughened to ensure they can withstand hits and destructive materials that can be found on UK roads.
  • Only single in colour as two tones are deemed to cause issues when dealing with different light sources and bad weather. Acrylic and gel lettering is still approved, it just needs to be a single tone to be a legal plate. Show plates can, of course, still have more creative designs.
  • Location identifiers, including the address and postcode of the supplier, also need to be included.

As a legally certified license plate vendor, we can guarantee that the options you choose for your plate will be within all of the legal parameters outlined by the DVLA, as a result, you will pass the MOT and receive official paperwork to show any time it is requested.  If your customisation falls outside of the previously stated legal parameters, you will fail the MOT and not be legally allowed to use the plate on your vehicle.

For information by the DVLA on private (personalised) number plate registering, buying and selling and other processes, click here.

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.

Contact us today

If you choose to purchase and install your personalised plates through Bespoke Plates, we can guarantee your registration plate will be MOT compliant, as the number 1 plate maker in the UK, we have a reputation to uphold.

We hope to have provided all the options for all of your plate modification needs, whilst also answering the question “Is it a crime to clone plates?”

We at Bespoke Plates have all the options you can ask for, as an approved license 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:

  • Email –
  • Phone – 0333 006 7878
  • Visit in-store

36A Broughton Street,
M8 8NN

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