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What is the Legal Spacing and Letter Style on Number Plates

There are different rules and regulations depending on the age & type of the vehicle together with where it was imported from and the available space on the bodywork for the plates. These are listed below, but the basic law on display applies to all vehicles.

The law states that,

You must not alter, rearrange or misrepresent the letters or numbers
Characters must not be moved from one group to the other
(e.g. A242 ABC must not be displayed as A242A BC).
Offences may result in any or all of the following:

A fine of up to £1,000
The registration mark may be WITHDRAWN
The vehicle may FAIL the MOT test

Full details of the requirements are included in The Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001 available from Her Majesty's Stationery Office

Mandatory Character Font

From 1st September 2001 all new number plates must display the new mandatory (compulsory) font. This, combined with the new style format registration mark is designed to make number plates clearer and easier to remember.
Number plates fitted before 1st September 2001 need not be changed provided the character font used is substantially the same as the new font.

Number plates must be replaced if they have been customised with:-

Stylised letters and/or figures such as italics
Number plate fixing bolts that alter the appearance of the letters and/or numbers

To simply explain the regulations, looking at the plate below:-

The 'Characters' are the individual letters and numbers. The 'Space between characters' refers to the spaces within a group of characters together, in this case A555 is one group and WOW is another group. The 'Space between groups' is thus the legal required space between those 2 groups of characters (shown as 33mm in the example)

 

Number Plates Fitted After 1st September 2001 

 
  Number plates fitted after 1 September 2001 must display characters that meet the dimensions shown below.

 
 
Characters
Group 1
 
 
Height
79mm
 
 
Width (except Number 1 or letter I)
50mm
 
 
Stroke
14mm
 
 
Space between characters
11mm
 
 
Space between groups
33mm
 
 
Top bottom and side margins (minimum)
11mm
 
 
Space between vertical lines
19mm
 
 

Number Plates Fitted Before 1st September 2001 

 
  Number plates fitted before 1 September 2001 must display characters that meet the dimensions shown in one of the two groups below

 
 
Characters
Group 1
Group2
 
 
Height
89mm
79mm
 
 
Width (Except Number 1 or letter I)
64mm
57mm
 
 
Stroke
16mm
14mm
 
 
Space between characters
13mm
11mm
 
 
Space between groups
38mm
33mm
 
 
Side margins (minimum)
13mm
11mm
 
 
Space between vertical lines
19mm
19mm
 
         
 

Display Of Vehicle Registration Marks On Imported Vehicles 

 
  (which have a restricted space for a standard sized number plate)  
 
Certain imported vehicles may be permitted to display number plates with smaller characters if the vehicle does not have European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval AND the vehicle's construction/design cannot accommodate standard size number plates


 
 
Characters
Group 1
 
 
Height
64mm
 
 
Width
44mm
 
 
Stroke
10mm
 
 
Space between characters
10mm
 
 

Display Of Vehicle Registration Marks On Motorcyles And Tricycles 

 
 
Motorcycles and Tricycles registered after 1st September 2001 must only display a number plate at the rear of the vehicle

 
 
Motorcycles and Tricycles registered before 1st September 2001can display a number plate at the front but are not required to

 
 
Characters
Group 1
 
 
Height
64mm
 
 
Width
44mm
 
 
Stroke
10mm
 
 
Space between characters
10mm
   
 
Space between groups
30mm
   
 
Top, side & bottom margin
11mm
   
 
Space between vertical lines
13mm
   
 

Motorcycles registered on or after 1st September 2001 must display a two-line number plate. Motorcycles registered prior to the 1st September 2001 may display a three-line plate, but one-line plates are illegal, irrespective of the date of registration of the motorcycle.ay display a three-line plate, ut one-line plates
 
 
 
 
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Important Private Number plates and DVLA Information
DVLA is the government agency responsible for all regulatory matters related to the issue and display of private number plates and car registrations in the UK. The DVLA acronym means Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and its head quarters are here in Swansea from where it controls all UK private registration plates. It was formerly called the DVLC standing for Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre but this title was changed in 1990 and so is now obsolete. In Northern Ireland the government agency responsible for controlling and issuing Irish number plates is DVA this acronym meaning the Driver Vehicle Agency.
DVLA is a registered trade mark of the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency. We contract the agency on a daily basis but VRM Swansea  Plates4less is in no way affiliated to the DVLA or DVLA Personalised Registrations.
 
All personalised number plates and personal registration marks mentioned in this site are either British i.e. issued and controlled by the DVLA Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency  here in Swansea or Northern Irish i.e. issued by the DVA NI (Driver and Vehicle Agency Northern Ireland) in Coleraine. They are only for display on vehicles registered in the UK and Northern Ireland.

Personal Number plates : Follow the law
As responsible personalised number plates agents we feel it is important that our visitors and customers understand the law regarding the supply and display of cherished number plates as they are valuable assets and should be protected. It was once possible to buy cheap number plates from any private car numberplates maker without any evidence of your entitlement to the car registration numbers. These days you need to provide the private registration plates manufacturer with a V948 number plate authorisation certificate which is issued by the DVLA only after your keeper’s entitlement has been checked. Your numberplates are an important identifying feature of your vehicle and can be cloned to provide a false identity to any vehicle for those engaged in vehicle related crime. There are now many stories that tell of speeding fines collected in areas of the UK where car owners have never visited, due to the display of duplicate number plates  by criminals.

The law on the display of vehicle registration numbers is now very strict and personal number plates owners may not use decorative or fancy fonts. Letters and numbers must be of the correct size, style and spacing with private registration plates also conforming to strict British Standards in their materials and manufacture. To break the law on the manufacture and display means you risk having your entitlement to your cherished registration plates permanently withdrawn and face a substantial fine of up to £1000. Incorrectly displayed private plates or personalised reg marks will be enough to make your vehicle fail its MOT test.

 VRM Swansea Plates4less is a DVLA registered number plate supplier (supplier no: 3166) and a recognised reseller of DVLA Personalised registrations. In recognition of this fact we only supply fully road legal number plates. DVLA, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, DVA NI Driver and Vehicle Agency Northern Ireland, are registered trademarks

See also: Private Car Registrations | Registration Numbers | Registration Plates | Irish Number Plates DVA NI | Private Number Plates