A Guide to Number Plates
Number plates have changed a little in the last twenty years, having gone through something of a makeover in 2001. This was rolled out across the UK, and all standard licence plates now carry the same alpha-numerical format – 2 numbers to show where the vehicle was registered, two to identify when, and three randomised letters. There is no further meaning to a number plate than this – and, as mentioned, you can fully customise your own plates should you wish to. As long as you keep your licence plate in full view, you are staying well within the law.
What are number plates used for?
Number plates are generally used to help identify a number of things. First and foremost, they are used by authorities and agencies such as the DVLA and the police to ascertain whether or not a car or vehicle is fully registered and road legal. Secondly, they help to track a vehicle – they are very useful in cases where insurance claims are being sought, or even when criminal cases are being investigated. The long and the short of licence plates is that they identify who you are – at least at a vehicle level – and it is therefore important to have such data on display at all times. Number plates for cars should never be hidden, obscured or even thrown away – as you may face a reprimand if caught.
How should I display my number plate?
Number plates for cars should be displayed in full view of other road users – and here is a brief checklist to make sure you’ve got it right.
- Are your numbers and letters easy to read and unaltered?
- Is the plate you are using of a reflective material?
- Is your front plate white – and your rear plate yellow?
- Is it plain and pattern-free?
- Can all road users see and read your number plate from behind and via rear-view mirrors?
These are the general rules you must bear in mind when displaying any number plate – and the same will apply if you are using a trailer – as it will need to bear the standard and legal yellow plate as advised above.
There is also a set of guidelines in place to ensure that fonts and spacing are correct – and for more information, you can speak with the DVLA directly on 0843 903 3770 should you require any specific support. This is a call forwarding service, costing 7p per minute plus your operator’s access charge. We are not associated with DVLA.
What other rules should I be aware of?
It is important that you do not cover or mask your number plates in any way – and that you do not make any adjustments or edits yourself. These will not be classed as road legal, and it is likely you will face a reprimand if caught.
If you wish to make a number plate, or to consult a number plate builder for a custom design or insignia, then you should always consult a certified provider – the DVLA, in fact, provides its own service for personalised number plates online, and designing and purchasing your own unique creation has never been easier.
When do number plates change?
Number plates haven’t changed in their current formatting since 2001 – and they carry a standard set of information on them that helps to identify when and where your vehicle was registered. For example, there are two letters to show where it originated – and two numbers to identify the year of registration. This will be very unlikely to change – and the only reason your number plate should alter at all is if you choose to purchase your own design from a number plate maker.
Are number plates checked on MOT?
Yes – if you fail to display your number plates currently upon your MOT check, you may face an outright failure – and, if you are caught driving a car or vehicle without correctly-displayed number plates, you may even be fined up to £1000. It is therefore important to make sure that you have your number plates present, visible and correct.
How do I get a replacement number plate?
There may be circumstances beyond your control whereby you need to replace your number plate altogether. Unlike customisable number plates online, you will need to locate a certified number plate maker local to you to authorise a new pair of plates to be generated for you. Your number will not change – this is only something that you can edit through legal customisation – but if your number plates are damaged beyond repair or are missing altogether, it is essential that you replace them before you start driving again.
The GOV.UK website has provided a useful checker for you to locate your nearest registered number plate creator – simply click here to get started. All you need to do is enter in your postcode and you will be provided with a list of local firms who will be able to help you. These firms may include chain stores such as Halfords – and please bear in mind that prices for replacement plates may vary from store to store.
Can I personalise a number plate?
Getting the chance to make a number plate isn’t difficult – in fact, the DVLA fully welcomes it. If you’d like to arrange for a custom plate to be provided for your vehicle, there are a number of reputable and certified firms both online and on the high street – but a good place to start will be, of course, the DVLA’s dedicated website. Click here to take a closer look, and for more information on how to get started.
How can I get my own personalised number plate?
Getting your own custom number plate online is easy – here’s a brief step-by-step guide to get you started. Before you do, it’s important that you register an account – as otherwise, you won’t be able to complete checkout.
Once at the DVLA Registrations page, simply search for your desired number plate insignia in the yellow search box at the top of the page. The website will then advise you of a number of different options and styles for you to choose from.
Take a look through the list of suggestions and, once you have found a look that you like, simply click through on it and prepare to make a purchase.
The DVLA charges £80 for all custom plates and designs ordered through their website. This is inclusive of VAT, and there are no extra charges. Major UK cards are accepted to purchase number plates online.
Once purchased, you will receive an email confirmation and a Certificate of Entitlement (or V750) will be delivered to you. You’ll also need to use this form to report your intentions for assigning the plate to your vehicle – as the DVLA will need to know a few more details from you before you put your new plates on.
This process will not supply you with the physical plates – it will simply ensure that you have the legal right to do so. Once the DVLA is happy that you are entitled to display and use the design you have purchased, you will need to consult a local licence plate maker to create plates for both the front and rear of your vehicle. Once again, additional fees here may vary – meaning you will need to shop around.
I’ve Not Received my V750 – What Should I Do?
Providing you have at least five days left before the expiry date you have been provided, you will be able to request replacement documentation through your online account – and if you are two weeks away from expiry, you can even make this request via post. We have included details below on how to contact the registrations division of the DVLA directly.
It’s important that you retain your valid V750 safely – as this will prove that you have the legal right to your custom number plate, and you can therefore use this to imprint the design on plates with a local number plate creator.
If you need to get in touch with the registrations wing of the DVLA, you can do so with ease. You can opt to call the main registration contact number, or there’s an online form you can complete to email the team directly.
However, if you wish to contact the team via post – for example, if you need a new V750, or if it never arrived – full address details are as follows:
DVLA Personalised Registrations
All driving licence enquiries, separate to those involving number plates, can be handled by the same team – albeit through a different number.