What are the number plate spacing laws?

Over the years, right back until 1901, number plates in the UK have followed a strict format. That has changed as the combination of characters available to a particular format has been exhausted. 

Now, we use the current or new style format. This is the one that all UK road users will be most familiar with. It is made up of two characters, followed by two numbers, finally followed by three further characters.

This is a clear, simple format for individuals to remember and memorise, but that’s not the only reason that we use it. Modern day technology requires this format to be displayed properly in order to work. ANPR cameras used for a multitude of reasons need to be able to quickly recognise a reg. 

With this in mind, we must ensure that we adhere to specific number plates spacing law. Number plate spacing is one of many things that some people wish to customise to set their vehicle aside from the rest. 

Can you change the spacing on a number plate? 

Quite simply, no. Even if the registration that you are displaying is a private reg, you are not able to customise the spacing. If a friend, colleague, or stranger states that there has been a number plate spacing law change or that number plates laws have been relaxed, they are mistaken. 

Legal and illegal number plate spacing

The rules here have been in place for many years and have not undergone any specific change.

Can number plate spacing fail an MOT? 

Absolutely. MOT Test centers will adhere to the very same rules that a Registered Number Plates Supplier has to when manufacturing plates. 

These regulations in place stretch much further than just spacing. The characters used when manufacturing replacement number plates must be made to strict dimensions:

  • Character height: 79mm
  • Character width: 57mm
  • Character stroke: 14mm
  • Space between each character: 11mm
  • Space between the two groups: 33mm
  • Space between vertical lines: 19mm
  • Side, top, and bottom margins (minimum): 11mm

Number Plate Spacing Law

Having miss-spaced number plates, or plates with the wrong sized characters may cause your vehicle to fail your MOT (or perhaps receive an advisory to change it right away). But the punishment could be worse. 

What will happen if I change the spacing on my car?

If you were to display incorrectly spaced registration plates on your vehicle and were pulled over by the police, you may receive a hefty fine. 

Fine for crossing the miss-spaced number plate line could be up to £1,000. Is it really worth the risk? For a little more information, you could look at our Are My Number Plates Legal? article.

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