What number plates are banned 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 wondering ‘What is the best number plate material?’

Bespoke Plates is here to answer that question, whilst providing you with information that will make you realise the value that this affordable customisation option can grant you, and how it differs from a regular plate.

What are number plates made from?

In this blog, Bespoke Plates will be telling you about 4D number plate keychains: The trendy accessory for car enthusiasts, whilst providing you with information that will help you understand some of the vital services we offer along with our bespoke accessories.

A standard UK number plate is made from acrylic. Here are 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.

So now we know the benefits of a standard number plate, why do people want gel plates? And are they legal?

Are gel plates legal?

In relation to the new ruling around number plating in the UK, As of 2022, as long as your number plate follows the guidelines highlighted by the DVLA, it is 100% legal for gel plates to be used on your vehicle.

Even though these plates are legal, an unlicensed plate vendor may make your plate in a way that is not compliant with DVLA rulings, that is why you should always seek modifications from an approved licence vendor like Bespoke Plates.

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 ensure 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 can also display the following:

  • 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 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.

So now we have the rules and regulations out of the way, let us explain our gel plate options for you.

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Gel Plates Explained

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 number plates & 4D number 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.

As an approved licence vendor with years of experience, Bespoke Plates offers this sleek plate upgrade, so for those who are curious, here is a brief description of 3D & 4D gel plates.

3D plates – What makes them unique?

  • 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 – How are they different?

  • 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.

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.

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

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 view an example of your ideal gel plate. And if you like what you see, we offer same-day collections and fittings!

What is the best number plate material?

If you want the most durable, aesthetic and unique option for your number plate, a 4D plate is well worth the investment.

We say 4D plates are the best number plate material as both the plate and its characters are made by acrylic rather than polyurethane which is what our 3D options use.Regardless of the option you opt for, both styles provide reinforcement and enhanced durability.

By choosing to have your plate made and installed by an approved licence vendor like Bespoke Plates, you are guaranteeing yourself a comprehensive service that ensures your plate not only looks amazing, but also complies with the legal stipulations set by the UK driving authority, as well as ensuring your plate passes its MOT checks. (The only exemption being show plates.)

Order a gel plate today

We hope for anyone still wondering ‘What is the best number plate material?’ that we provided all the right answers and options for all of your plate modification 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:

Email info@bespoke-plates.co.uk

Phone 0333 006 7878

Visit in-store

36A Broughton Street,



M8 8NN

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