Plate Legality

As a leading, established and legally certified provider of number plates, we at Bespoke Plates understand the responsibility we hold when it comes to our services. When it comes to plate legality, we are often asked many questions, so we thought it would be helpful to provide you with some answers when it comes to the legality of the plates we sell.

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.

What makes a plate legal?

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 customer 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.

Your personalised number plates can also:

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.

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.

Further to the release of new standards in September 2021, March 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.

3D and 4D plate legality

3D and 4D plates, collectively known as gel plates are 100% legal as long as you go through a reputable plating company such as Bespoke plates. As mentioned earlier, personalised number plates are allowed to have 3D raised characters, which are the defining feature of our 3D and 4D plates.

Upon creation of your desired plate, you will receive legal documentation in case you are ever required to prove the legality of your plate.

Alongside this, our plates are made in-house, further ensuring we keep an eye on the production process to make sure they stay within legal means. In regards to MOT, our 3D plates and 4D plates will NOT fail an MOT, as they are made to the standards set by the DVLA.

This is not a guarantee that you will pass an MOT though, as there are multiple factors that are assessed aside from the number plate, if you fail any of the checks, regardless if your number plate is within the law, you will fail your MOT.

The only exception to gel plates being illegal is in the case of show plates. Though they are legal to own, the highly customisable nature of them means they are illegal to use on public roads.

Show plates can be used on private property, but that is the only exception to them being used on a vehicle.

LED number plate light legality

As of now, there are no rules regarding the maximum amount of light allowed to use for you to highlight a number plate. So currently, LED number plate lights are legal.

Even though this is the case, you should always proceed with caution and common sense if deciding to install this upgrade. This would come in the form of not having the lights so bright that it distracts other road users or makes your plate more difficult to identify.

Furthermore, proper installation must be considered, even though LED’s are energy efficient you must be careful especially if your installation involves wiring (which is unlikely.) Frayed or loose wiring can present a danger to yourself and other road users.

Private plate legality

As an authorised seller of private plates we are here to also inform you on the legality of private plates.

You are only able to buy legal private number plates from either DVLA auctions or from their licensed sellers. Private plates are all pre-approved and created by the DVLA. As such, they maintain a library of legally registered private plates that can be sold to dealers or customers, all supported by legal documentation.

You must always research where you are buying your private number plate from, as illegal plate sales are on the rise. Your dealer or auction house should always be able to provide you with a view of their documentation which approves them as a legitimate seller when you ask to see it.

You can also gain peace of mind if you book to attend an auction which has been listed on the DVLA’s official list of upcoming events as they all will be adhering to the private plate rules.

Once you buy your number plate, you will always be provided with the legal documentation, which is the V750. Another way to ensure that your seller is genuine is to ask to see a copy of this beforehand.

 As with our own collection of private registrations, most resellers will only stock a selection of designs, so alarm bells should always ring if someone gives you a large selection.

Private plates must have either a V750 certificate or a V778 retention document to prove you have legal ownership and the right to use the bespoke design.

The V750 is the document that assigns the actual registration mark to the new owner. This document will be needed for assigning a plate and for selling in the future. The V778 is the retention document needed to keep ownership of a private plate and to be able to use it legally on the roads. Valid for ten years, it only needs to be renewed if the plate is not currently assigned to a vehicle.

If you have lost these documents, you can apply for replacements, but you will need to be able to prove another way that you are the legal owner of the plate to eliminate fraud issues. To do this, you will need to prove your identity which the DVLA can use to match you with the owner they have on record.

Number plate fitting

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A LED number plate light is a series of small energy-efficient LED lights placed on the vehicle in such a way that the licence plate is highlighted. Most cars have number plate lights as a standard feature, to ensure the vehicle is easily identifiable.

Sometimes, you may not realise that you are a victim of number plate cloning, because the criminal has not physically stolen them from your vehicle.

Watch out for these signs that your number plate has been cloned:

  • Speeding fines and fixed penalty notices start arriving for you, even though you haven’t committed them.
  • The police have contacted you, pulled you over, or imposed a penalty on you, believing that you have committed a motoring offence.
  • Your vehicle documents have disappeared (such as your V5C logbook.)
  • Your insurance provider has imposed sanctions on you for an offence, which you didn’t commit.
  • You may have bought a car that turns out to have cloned number plates, so it could be seized.

If you, or someone you know, has become a victim of number plate cloning or vehicle identity theft, you should take these steps:

  • Contact the police as soon as possible.
  • Collect as much evidence as you can that you are not responsible for any fines, penalties, or criminal activity.
  • Inform the DVLA that a criminal has duplicated your number plate, so they can advise you of your next steps.

Used cars can be targeted for number plate cloning. You might buy a used car and have no idea that its number plates have been stolen or exploited by criminals.

An illegal number plate is one which is incorrectly displayed. It could contain the wrong spacings, font, colours, style, material, and so on.

So, how much is the fine for illegal number plate?

If your vehicle is displaying illegal or incorrectly displayed number plates, you could be fined up to £1,000 and your vehicle will fail its MOT test.

If you are a first-time offender, police will issue you with a ‘vehicle defect rectification notice’, giving you 14 days to get the plate made legal and get the form stamped by an official supplier, which then gets handed in at your local police station.

The main reason that these colours are important is that it is instantly recognisable to other road users and pedestrians what way a car is facing. When vision is compromised thanks to dim lighting or bad weather, seeing the flash of either white or yellow lets other road users understand what vehicles are doing. This is also effective when vehicles are non-standard sizes, such as large lorries, as, at first glance, it can be difficult to see what is happening when situations are outside of normal conditions.

Contact us

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.

Want to read more about all things plating? Check out our blog. 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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