Jaguar F Type Jalopnik Number 1 Plate UK carwitter  700x432 - Your Ultimate Guide to Private Plates - Your Ultimate Guide to Private Plates

Car Features

Your Ultimate Guide to Private Plates

26 Nov , 2019  

Personalised plates are a great way to personalise your car. It is a publicly visible and unusual way to make your car stand out. Others may want to show parts of their personality, and they can be a great conversation starter.

However, there are a lot of misconceptions about private plates, and people often make mistakes when buying them which could end up costing them in the long run. In this article, we’re going to give you everything you need to know about private plates.


Halfords Illegal Number Plates 007 carwitter - Your Ultimate Guide to Private Plates - Halfords Illegal Number Plates - 007 - carwitter


Displaying Number Plates

The DVLA has strict rules about all number plates, not just private ones. These rules are intended to create a consistent appearance of all number plates, which makes it easier for police and cameras to read the plates.

These rules also help cut down on car theft crimes, because it makes broken and unreadable plates a crime.

Number plates must have a white background on the front plate and yellow background on the rear plate. The plates cannot have a background pattern, and you can’t put extra decorative stickers on it.

The number plate should be made from a reflective material. However, you can use 3D characters if they’re in the mandatory font.

The characters themselves must be 79 mm tall. All characters except the number one and letter ‘l’ must be 50 mm wide.

The space between most characters is 11 mm, but the space between random letters and the age identifier is 33 mm. The margins of the letter plate must be 11 mm. Older plates that don’t meet these standards should be replaced.


Purchased a 2005 RenaultSport Clio Trophy 002 700x465 - Your Ultimate Guide to Private Plates - Your Ultimate Guide to Private Plates


Formatting Number Plates

Number plates must follow the only allowed format. The first two characters are letters representing the city or location. For example, BD stands for Birmingham.

Then there are two numbers – the numbers indicate the age of the vehicle, and they change twice a year. There is a space followed by three more letters. These characters are random. You are not allowed to alter or rearrange the letters and numbers to form words.

You can also get into trouble for using bolts or screws to change the letters or make them difficult to read. For example, bolts that look like letters can get you fined. Plates customised with italics are forbidden, too.

If the number plate doesn’t read correctly, you could be hit with a fine of up to a thousand pounds.

Older number plates followed a different format than those today, but they don’t always have to be changed.

For example, number plates fitted before the start of September 2001 don’t have to be changed if they use a similar font to the officially allowed one.


Peugeot 106 GTi 03 carwitter 1024x768 - Your Ultimate Guide to Private Plates - Your Ultimate Guide to Private Plates


Ordering Number Plates

You can order private number plates from a variety of suppliers. However, not everyone offering these plates is making them in line with the government standards. You should only order a number plate from a registered number plate supplier.

For example, you could get private plates at and know that the plates will be in compliance with the law. They also have tons of different modification options to choose from, but will always make sure that they won’t get you in trouble.

For instance, they are one of the few that offer 4D private number plates which are made with high end acrylic characters. But what makes them 4D is that you can actually add some colour underneath the characters, which will add some style to them, but will still be fully legal.

Accredited suppliers will be able to give you feedback, such as by telling you that you can’t use a plate starting with a Q, or have a private number that makes the car look newer than it is.

A legitimate plate supplier will also ask for proof of ID and proof you’re allowed to use that number plate. Only transfer the number plate to your vehicle after that’s been done.


2018 Honda Civic 1.6 i DTEC Review Rear Badge Detail carwitter 1024x681 - Your Ultimate Guide to Private Plates - Your Ultimate Guide to Private Plates


The Potential Creative Choices You Have

You can balance creativity with government regulations. For example, you can choose a coloured border for the private number plate, or choose one of the flags that you are allowed to put on the plate.

You could put a red dragon of Wales flag, Scottish flag, English flag or Union Jack on your plates. Just know that you’ll have to have a GB sticker on the car if you have any of these flags on your number plate.

Note that you don’t need this sticker if you have a Euro symbol on the plate, and that’s allowed on the number plate, as well.

Private number plates are a popular way to personalise your car, given that more than a hundred million pounds are spent on them per year. Find the right balance so you can express yourself without being at risk of traffic fines.


2018 Hyundai i30N Performance Pack Review Rear Angle carwitter 1024x681 - Your Ultimate Guide to Private Plates - Your Ultimate Guide to Private Plates

, , , ,

Vlad 96x96 - Your Ultimate Guide to Private Plates - Your Ultimate Guide to Private Plates By
James Dempsey is originally from mother Russia. He works as a freelance journalist for various publishing companies and devours anything tech and car related. He has been a long standing contributor to Team Carwitter and helps keep the site viable.