What Number Plates Are Legal And Illegal?

Number Plates Legalities – The Official Guide.

On a day to day basis we find that our customers aren’t sure which style plates are legal and which aren’t. It’s no surprise, seen as there’s differing information and interpretations everywhere!

With some companies offering all kinds of styles, and some companies only offering a few. We can understand that it must be a baffling concept. Another question we also receive is why are certain plates not actually allowed? Afterall, it is just a number plate, so long as your registration is showing then why would you not be able to use different styles?

Well, stress no more as we’ve put together an official guide for you to read through (with all of the correct information) so that you can confidently purchase and use number plates without feeling unsure or uncomfortable about the legalities of them!

So… what styles ARE legal?

We will give you a whistle-stop-tour of what is legal… bare with us, list incoming! 

  • 4D Plain – The original ‘non-standard’ number plate style. We hand-laser cut the 4D letters – just like our 4D Mattes and 5MM. They provide a shiny, clean look – which we love! Giving a sleek finish to your number plate.
  • 4D Matte – Our new and latest style! 4D Matte plates are completely fine and within the law. These are laser cut letters with a matte black finish on top. The letters are placed onto the number plate and stand out 3mm. They’re hand cut with our laser and each letter is perfected with the matte finish.  
  • 3D Gel – Our most popular styling. The 3D gels are almost like a raised sticker, batter-proof and very sublime. The perfect style for those looking for something unique yet a little more understated. Take a look at them here!
  • 5MM / 5MM Gel – Exactly the same as the 4Ds however they just stand out a little more, as the name suggests they are 5mm acrylic – so only 2mm deeper than the 4D’s however much more of a statement! 
  • Pressed – There’s a lot of confusion surrounding pressed, but to keep it short and sweet: all pressed yellow / white number plates are legal for all cars. The black and silver ones however are for vintage vehicles only! To find out a little bit more about that head over here. 
  • Shaped – Our brand new ranges of shaped plates, model specific and funky designs (such as our Hex plates) are 100% road legal and MOT compliant – passed by the DVLA. Don’t let the change in shape from a normal plate throw you off, the actual plate itself doesn’t matter. So long as all digits are displayed and spaced correctly then you can really have any plate out of our premium shaped plates range.5mm 4D Number Plates These are legal!


What number plate styles AREN’T legal?

So as you have easily gathered, all of the above are legal… so, let’s take a look at all of the styles which are actually illegal:

  • Any ‘Neon’ lettering.
  • Any ‘Carbon’ style.
  • Any ‘3D printed’ letters
  • Any ‘frosted’ letters.
  • All ‘glittery’ letters.

If you are using these styles for show purposes only; ie for on a bedroom wall, then they are okay to use. On a vehicle however, then no way. (We will get onto why in a short while). Lots of number plate companies still sell these styles, but please do be wary that you cannot put these on your car. The police will pull you over and give you a pretty hefty fine … if not more serious. 

Premium Registration Plates In a pile  So these are NOT legal!

Did they used to be legal?

Yes. Infact, we used to sell all of these styles once upon a time when they were legal! However, as technology has improved and thus analyses of such equipment, it soon became apparent that these letters on number plates soon became more of a hindrance. Studies of all types of ANPR cameras – including general traffic cameras, speed cameras, parking-lot cameras and many others – made it clear that these letters were not able to be ‘seen’ by the cameras. This caused for a great deal of concern as those who were acting illegally, by speeding, cloning cars and much more, were not being brought to justice due to using plates which were not able to be seen on the camera. Time, effort and money was wasted trying to catch these criminals however due to inappropriate lettering, they were never caught. 

Thus, governing bodies such as the DVLA and police forces, decided to deem these styles of number plates illegal. As soon as this decision was made and enforced, of course we obliged and took these off of our site and have since never sold them again. 

There are companies out there who will ‘pull the wool over your eyes’ as it were, and act as though these plates are still legal and able to be bought … Some even claim to sell them as ‘show plates’ – which is completely legal if they are show plates, but do be careful when ordering those! 


What should I avoid when purchasing number plates?

Step number 1. Always, always check that the company you are dealing with is DVLA registered. This information will usually be available on the bottom of all sites, or alternatively on ‘About Us’ sections. It is crucial that you do this before anything else, as this will provide you with information as to whether they can be a trustworthy source of purchasing from or provider of information.

Step number 2. Just take a quick look around at the website of the company. If they are legitimate and abide by the law, then nowhere on their site should there be any of the illegal forms of letters. Just a quick reminder for you of what those look like; neon, carbon, frosted, glitter! All letters should be plain one-tone of black. 

Step number 3. We usually find it good practice to have a fish around on company reviews. You can usually find these on the trustworthy companies; TrustPilot or Google Reviews usually are good places to start! Of course you will always find some negative reviews on there, don’t let that put you off however. Remember; there will always be some disgruntled customers no matter what company you look at.

Step number 4. Once you have exhausted all options, order with Number1Plates, where you can put your mind at ease and be rest assured that all of our plates are 100% road legal and MOT compliant. A DVLA registered company, since 2013, we work closely with all legal bodies to ensure that we are always abiding by the law, thus our customers are too!  

VW with short 3d gel number plate

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