DVLA Rules On Displaying Your Reg Number Plate

Reg Number Plate rules and regulations

When replacing your number plate you should make sure that the correct material has been used to manufacture the plate. It should be made from a reflective material. Front number plates must display black characters on a white background and rear number plate must display black characters on a yellow background.

Also, the characters on a number plate need to be a standard height and width.

Your number plate should show the correct:

  • character height - 79 millimetres

  • character width - 50 millimetres (except the figure 1 or letter I)

  • character stroke - 14 millimetres

  • space between characters - 11 millimetres

  • space between groups - 33 millimetres

  • top, bottom and side margins - minimum 11 millimetres

  • space between vertical lines - 19 millimetres

Motorcycles and tricycles

Motorcycles registered from 1 September 2001 must only display a number plate at the rear of the vehicle.

Motorcycles registered before 1 September 2001 can display a reg number plate at the front, but do not have to. The number plate must be a 'two-line' number plate.

Motorcycle number plates should have a:

  • character height - 64 millimetres

  • character width - 44 millimetres (except the figure 1 or letter I)

  • character stroke - 10 millimetres

  • space between characters - 10 millimetres

  • space between groups - 30 millimetres

  • top, bottom and side margins - 11 millimetres (minimum)

  • vertical space between groups - 13 millimetres

Tricycles made from motorcycles must meet the number plate requirements for motorcycles.

Tricycles made from four-wheeled vehicles, such as saloon cars and quad bikes must meet the same number plate requirements as all other vehicles.

On the 28 December 2001 the Department of Transport released this press release

"Motorists in Great Britain will be able to display national flags and symbols on their number-plates, Minister for Transport John Spellar announced today.

Mr Spellar said:

"The Government or DVLA has decided to legislate to allow the voluntary display of national flags and symbols on vehicle number plates. It is what the people of England, Scotland and Wales have asked for and strengthens their feeling of national identity.

"We did have initial concerns about the ability of enforcement cameras to read the plates but these concerns have been overcome through enhanced camera technology. I am pleased to be able to make this announcement today."

The Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001 will be amended to allow national flags to be displayed on the left hand side of the number plate, in the area currently set aside for the voluntary display of the Euro symbol and GB national identifier.

Vehicle owners will be provided with the option of displaying either the Union Jack, Cross of St George, Scottish Saltire or Welsh Dragon accompanied, if they wish, by identifiers such as GB, ENG, SCO, CYM, UK etc.Those who choose to display a national flag or symbol on their number plates in preference to the European circle of stars and GB identifier will be required to continue to display a separate GB sticker when travelling outside the United Kingdom.

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Additional Information

There has never been provision in law for the display of flags or symbols on vehicle number plates. However the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001, which took effect on1 September 2001, provided for the voluntary display of the Euro symbol and GB national identifier.

Under EC Council Regulation 2411/98 Member States are required to recognise number plates that conform with this Regulation (i.e. display the European circle of stars and distinguishing sign of the Member of State of registration on the extreme left of the registration plate). This enables motorists to circulate freely within the European Community without the need for a separate national identity sticker.

Representations have been made for the inclusion of national flags, in preference to the European circle of stars. When the legislation is changed to accommodate national flags, motorists who wish to take advantage of the facility will be required to display a separate GB decal when travelling abroad.

The police and enforcement agencies have advised that this easement will not have an adverse effect on law enforcement. Advances in camera technology mean that number plates will continue to be capable of being effectively read by roadside cameras.

Motorists will be permitted to display any combination of the following flags and literals:

Flags: Union Flag, Cross of St George, Cross of St Andrew (Saltire), Red Dragon

Literals: England, ENG, Great Britain, GB, United Kingdom, UK, Cymru, CYM, Wales, Scotland, SCO 

A concession which will permit some vehicles to continue to display motorcycle size number plates was announced on July 31st 2001 by Minister for Transport John Spellar.This will apply to certain imported cars, mainly from America and the Far East. It follows concerns about the cost of modifying vehicles which are designed for foreign markets and unable to display UK size number plates. Bargain low cost sale numberplates available.

Minister for Transport John Spellar. said

"The introduction of this concession demonstrates that the Government listens and responds to the concerns of motorists.

"We have taken into account the views of enthusiasts, vehicle importers and the police. We have been assured that law enforcement agencies will be able to recognise and record the smaller character size.

"We are clear that the cost of modifying some of these vehicles, in particular those which originate from the USA, to take standard size plates would be costly and unfair. We intend therefore to allow them to display motorcycle size number plates."

Harry Tune, Chairman of the American Auto Club UK, welcomed the announcement:

"This really is a milestone in the history of the American car enthusiast in Britain. We so appreciate that a Government department has listened to us and been sympathetic to our needs. Number plates can be heaven!

"Over 90% of American cars, whether classic or modern, are manufactured with a motorcycle size number plate indent so this concession will benefit thousands of enthusiasts.

"I am absolutely delighted at today's news."

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency will commence a short consultation exercise prior to amendment of the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001.

As of September 2001 the number plate format changed in accordance with BS AU 145d Statutory Instrument 2001/No 561. The New format consists of 2 letters, 2 numbers a space of 33mm and a group of 3 letters.

Age Identifiers

Date Range Identifier Date Range Identifier
Sept 09 - Feb 10 59 Mar 10 - Aug 10 10
Sept 10 - Feb 11 60 Mar 11 - Aug 11 11
Sept 11- Feb 12 61 Mar 12- Aug 12 12
Sept 12- Feb 13 62 Mar 13- Aug 13 13
Sept 13- Feb 14 63 Mar14- Aug 14 14
Sept 14- Feb 15 64 Mar15- Aug 15 15

Area Identifiers

Where LMT means "Local Memory Tag"

On 1st of December 2005 the DVLA changed the documentation required to buy a Number Plate. The following now applies - In order to obtain a Number Plate you will have to provide verification of your current personal details and proof of entitlement to the registration mark quoted.

At least one original document from each of the lists below is required. The combination of the documents must be sufficient to check your name, address and the entitlement.

Proof of Identity:

  • A driving licence whether or not issued in the United Kingdom (with or without a photograph). This is preferred because it is a secure, government-issued document showing both name and address.

  • A current bill issued by an electricity, gas or water supplier, a landline telephone bill or a council tax bill.

  • A bank or building society statement.

  • A passport (whether issued or not in the United Kingdom).

  • A national identity card issued by the Government of a state or territory other than the United Kingdom.

  • A debit or credit card issued by a bank or building society (the requirement for a photograph no longer applies).

  • A police warrant card.

  • An armed forces identity card.

Proof of Entitlement:

  • The preferred document is a Vehicle Registration Certificate (V5C).

  • The tear - off slip (V5C/2) from V5C (Section 10).

  • Certificate of entitlement to a mark (V750).

  • Cherished transfer retention document (V778).

  • Vehicle licence renewal form (VI 1).

  • Temporary registration Certificate (V379).

  • Authorisation Certificate (V948) with official DVLA stamp.

  • A letter of authorisation from a fleet operator (including a lease/hire company). The letter must quote the document reference number from the V5C. Quoting the vehicle identification number is no longer acceptable.