What Letters Are Not on UK Number Plates?

Understanding the characters within a UK number plate can help you easily understand when someone may be driving a fake plate. Or, it can even help you understand the identity of a vehicle, including when and where it was manufactured.

In this blog, we will answer the question ‘What letters are not on UK number plates?’

Bespoke Plates is a renowned and legally certified registration platemaker and installer, with options of 3D Plates, 4D Plates, Show Plates, and regular / Electric Vehicle Plates and more. We are the one-stop shop for all things registration plates!

Whether it’s a Private Plate, Gel Plate, Standard Registration Plate or plating accessories, we have you covered.

As a certified and experienced team of plate fitters and makers, our plates are installed to the specification of UK law, provided alongside the appropriate paperwork you require. (The only exception to this is show plates.)

How are UK number plates structured?

How many characters are on a standard UK vehicle number plate?

From 2001, all subsequent vehicles produced since then have followed the following format. The X’s meaning letters, and the 0’s meaning numbers.

‘XX 00 XXX’

Here is an explanation of this format…

  1. The first two letters signify the region of the country your vehicle was first registered.
  1. The following two numbers signify when the plate was issued to the vehicle.
  1. The final three letters are chosen at random to ensure a unique number plate.

Why do we need number plates?

Number plates are a necessity to help not only ourselves, but ANPR systems too. A number plate gives a vehicle its identity, this identity allows the vehicle’s owner/future owners, as well as ANPR systems and other relevant bodies and services, the ability to see and understand the history of the vehicle, wherever relevant.

Number plates also serve as a way of legitimising insurance. If number plates didn’t exist, anyone could say that they’re insured on a vehicle, but you wouldn’t know, as there is no way to identify the vehicle aside from its colour, make and model.

Are number plate formats the same globally?

No. Countries follow their own number plating format that may resemble or be completely different to the UK’s structure. This makes sense as if there was a universal structure adopted, it can leave room for duplicates to be formed, which would be a problem for the owners of those particular vehicles.

What letters are not on UK number plates?

What Letters Are Not on UK Number Plates?

Certain areas of a UK number plate have a restriction on what characters can be used. The first two letters of a UK number plate refer to the vehicle’s area code, it is only in this area that certain letters are not allowed. These letters are Z, Q and I, O is also included on this list, but is the only exception, as O can be used as part of an area code for Oxford.

The following two characters are numbers. These numbers identify the age of the vehicle, or at least when it was first registered. The final three letters of a number plate are random, and there is no restriction on what letters can be used here.

The reason the final three characters are randomised is to ensure individuality, so that there are no duplicate number plates.

Why do some number plates have different characters?

There are two kinds of plates that will have characters that do not follow the format of UK number plates. They would be private plates and show plates.

  • Private plates are government approved number plates that have been requested by a member of the public. Alternatively, there are many legal sellers of private plates. Private plates, if sold by a reputable business, like Bespoke Plates are legal to use.
  • Show plates are a completely personalised kind of number plate. They can come in various colours, have an order of characters that is different, and whatever other features a customer can imagine.

These types of plate are not legal to drive with under any circumstances. The only exception is if the area being driven in is on private land, away from a public road.

What letters can gel plates have on them?

How many characters are on a standard UK vehicle number plate?

Gel plates follow the same lettering rules mentioned previously, unless it is also a private plate, or a show plate.

Gel plates are a legal plating customisation option, their main feature is that the characters are raised, creating a 3D effect. This effect creates a subtle yet intriguing aesthetic that is sure to be the ‘cherry on top’ of a beloved vehicle. The gel plates we provide are available in 3D and 4D plates.

Additionally, due to the materials that form the gel plate characters, there is a nominal increase in durability in the plate. Adding a practical benefit alongside the aesthetic upgrade provided by a gel plate.

Our gel plates are made in house by our expert platemakers with years of experience, guaranteeing peace of mind and undeniable quality.

Are electric number plates different to normal number plates?

Electric plates follow all the same rulings that are required by a standard or gel plate. The only aesthetic difference is a green stripe on the number plate. The green stripe signifies that the vehicle is a fully electric vehicle.

Identifying an electric vehicle is more useful for ANPR systems that may otherwise charge non-electric vehicles in certain ultra-low emission zones.

Do hybrid vehicles have their own plates?

No. Hybrid vehicles use the same kind of number plate that a petrol fuelled vehicle would, as they also require the use of petrol or diesel. Green number plates are reserved exclusively for vehicles that are fully electric.

How can I order a new number plate?

Bespoke Plates makes the hassle of getting yourself a brand-new number plate easy and efficient. This is regardless of whether you’re after a standard replacement number plate, or a gel plate. Here is the process.

By following these steps, you will also have the option to see the plate before making a decision.

Visualising how your plate can look in real-time, with the characters from your actual registration plate, saves time and makes it easy for you to know what you want before you get it. Let us walk you through the process of choosing your plate through us.

  1. Head to the Bespoke Plates website
  2. Select the plate style you want under the “Build Your Plate” tab. Alternatively, you can follow this link.
  3. Enter your registration (You can press ‘preview’ to see your registration with all the modification options you have selected.)
  4. When selecting your chosen plate, you can opt for 3D/4D options, a Hex plate, and whether you want a legal plate or a show plate.
  5. Select preferred optional accessories.
  6. Decide if you are collecting with installation, or if you want it to be delivered.

Installing through Bespoke Plates ensures the best service & secure installation for your number plate, along with guidance for any questions you may have.

Order a new number plate today

Number plate badges explained

In this blog, we have highlighted our plate options, and the information you need in order to obtain our stylish customisation options for your vehicle. We aim to answered to have answered the question, ‘What letters are not on UK number plates?’

We hope that we have provided all the right answers and options for all of your plate modification needs.

Bespoke Plates has all the options you can ask for, as an approved registration 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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