Are stealth number plates legal?

For anyone new to number plate laws in the UK, you may be wondering what the rules are for UK number plates? Can you use a number plate of any style? Or must they be following a certain allocation of rules?

In this blog, we will answer the question ‘What are number plates are banned in the UK?’

Bespoke Plates is a renowned and legally certified registration platemaker and installer, with options of 3D Plates, 4D Plates, Show Plates, 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.)

Can you drive a vehicle without a number plate?

Why do some cars not have front licence plates UK

No. Any mechanical vehicle that must be driven on public roads must have a number plate, whether this is a car, van, truck, or motorbike/motorised vehicle. By driving these vehicles without number plates, you can easily find yourself in trouble with the authorities.

Number plates serve as an identity for your vehicle, by having this identity, it becomes simple and easy to identify who the registered drivers of the vehicle are. Understandably, this allows for only registered people, with legitimate licences, to drive these vehicles.

Why do people steal number plates?

People steal number plates for one of two reasons…

  1. Private plates are stolen as the value of the private plate may be exceedingly high. This would allow the thief to re-sell the plate. Although this is difficult to do through illegal means, there is still a market for illegally obtained private plates.
  1. Number plates are stolen to be used as a decoy plate for another car. Criminals often use cars that have stolen number plates in order to throw off ANPR systems whilst they commit their crimes.

An ANPR will analyse the number plate and display the details of the vehicle it is registered to. Unfortunately, unless this is done in real time, the criminal has already committed their crime and dumped the plate and vehicle.

What to do if your number plate is stolen

If your number plate is stolen, whether it is a private plate or a standard or customised number plate, you should report it immediately. Reporting it to the police, your insurer and/or lease provider must be done before anything else.

By reporting it to the police, they will know in advance not to charge you for any fines that the vehicle with your stolen plates has built up. By informing your insurer, any accidents that take place with the vehicle that is using your stolen plates are not attributed to you.

Once you have made the appropriate reports, you can start to look at a replacement number plate. Using the government gateway is the best way to find legal plate manufacturers in your vicinity. This includes Bespoke Plates, who have nationwide delivery.

What number plates are banned in the UK?

What number plates are banned in the UK?

Number plates are not banned in the UK. You can own any kind of number plate. The issue is if you attach a number plate that does not fall within the ruling on number plates to your vehicle.

As long as your custom plate complies with the following rules, it is completely legal. As per the legal guidance, the ruling on number plates is as follows…

The number plates on your vehicle must:

  • be made from a reflective material.
  • display black characters on a white background (front plate).
  • display black 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—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.

Your number plates can also:

  • have 3D (raised) characters.
  • display certain flags, symbols, and identifiers.
  • display a green flash, if you have a zero-emission vehicle.

In conjunction with these rules, certain 3D and 4D number plates are a totally legal option for you to choose from. This means that custom number plates are not completely relegated to show plates.

Any customisation that breaches these rules will result in your plate becoming a show plate. Show plates are number plates made specifically for decoration, they can have a much more extravagant customisation than a legally-compliant custom plate.  Show plates are illegal to use on a vehicle.

Any reputable plate manufacturer such as Bespoke Plates will tell you immediately when your customisation has crossed the legal threshold.

What happens if I’m stopped using an illegal number plate?

If you are driving with a number plate that is deemed as illegal, and you are caught doing this, you can face multiple repercussions. This can include fines, points on your licence, towing of your vehicle, and more.

Each number plate is specifically assigned to a vehicle, even if you want to use a private plate, you must get it legally assigned to your vehicle in order to use it whilst you drive. Number plates serve as the identity of your vehicle, so using an illegal or unassigned number plates can make it look like you are driving illegally.

What else counts as an illegal number plate?

Using a number plate that is assigned to another vehicle other than the one you are currently driving is illegal. This is a tactic that is often employed by criminals, so if you are caught doing this, you may be subject to more questions regarding the origin of your number plates.

How to order a custom legal number plate online

Upgrade your number plate today

Getting your own bespoke custom number plate is relatively simple. In most cases, you can even do it from the comfort of your own home! If you opt to use Bespoke Plates, you can order a custom number plate directly from our website.

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.
  7. Confirm your order!

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

Purchase a legal number plate today

In this blog, we have highlighted our plate options and the information you need to obtain our stylish customisation options for your vehicle. We aim to have confidently displayed everything you need to know regarding the question ‘What number plate are banned in the UK?’

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:


Phone 0333 006 7878

Visit in-store

36A Broughton Street,


M8 8NN

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