UK Number Plates: Legal Do’s & Don’ts

Number Plates

When buying a new car, you’ll want to make sure it’s all mechanically sound and looks the same as it did in the advert. Perhaps you’ll have a mechanic check the car over before paying any money, just to be sure. What many drivers forget to check however is the legality of their number plates, and there are a surprising number of rules that govern them.
So how exactly can you tell if your number plates are fully legal?

Top motoring law expert Anton Balkitis from Rothera Sharp

Euro Car Parts has teamed up with top motoring law expert Anton Balkitis from Rothera Sharp to produce a quick-glance guide to make sure your registration plates are all above board.


  1. Since 1998, most registration plates will show the Great Britain EU badge on the left hand side; with this you won’t need a GB sticker on your car when driving on the continent. You can also choose to have individual country badges/flags, such as the St Georges Cross, but these will require you to have a GB sticker when in Europe.

Additionally, all characters must be of the standard font and correct size. That is 79mm tall; 14mm thick and the space between them must be exactly 11mm.

  1. The bottom right hand side of your number plate should include the British Standard Mark (BS AU 145d), typically in small print. You’ll also find the manufacturers trade mark here too.
  1. Make sure your plate supplier is authorised by the DVLA, as any attempt to supply registration plates without authorisation can carry a fine of up to £1000. The suppliers also have to keep a record of all sales and transactions; this information is made available for the DVLA and the police. This is to make it more difficult for criminals to make use of fake or stolen number plates.
  1. Make sure your registration plate is clean and legible, as an unreadable number plate can be punished with a £1000 fine. If your plate is damaged, you’ll need to be able to show both some personal identification and copy of the vehicle log book (V5) to get a replacement.
  1. If you opt for a private number plate, be careful your registration cannot be deemed offensive. The DVLA releases a list of banned plates twice a year, but some always slip through the net and end up in circulation. Between 2013 and 2016, 71 registrations were withdrawn, and no payment is reimbursed in cases such as this.

If your private number plate has been reported as offensive and you feel that this is unfair, such as this case in Canada, contact the experienced motoring solicitors at Rothera Sharp.

For more top tips, consumer advice and product reviews come back to the Euro Car Parts Blog soon. We’ll help to keep you safe with expert advice and opinions, plus new high quality car parts to improve, repair and maintain your car.
For help finding the right parts for your vehicle visit Euro Car Parts online or in store today, click here to locate your nearest branch. With more than 200 locations across the United Kingdom you’re never far from an ECP branch.