Do you need to display front number plates in the UK?

This and other important questions answered as UK Number Plate Crime Is on the rise!
UK drivers may be breaking the law by removing their number plates. Could they face fines of up to £1000? Our FOI requests reveal number plate crime statistics.
11/04/2024 Blog
Orange Lamborghini, with no front number plate


Recently, a pretty pricey Lamborghini was seized on the M5 by the police. What did the driver do to deserve this? Speeding? Swerving?

Not exactly. The police pulled the driver over when they spotted that the Lamborghini didn’t have a front number plate, and the nail in the coffin was their non-existent insurance! This isn’t even the first time we’ve seen this issue, it’s actually pretty common!

We’ve seen countless articles about missing plates, and regularly receive calls from people who want to know if they really need a front number plate. This is such a huge issue, that we even put in an FOI request to try to find out how often these crimes take place, and learnt that this crime has increased in some areas! It’s time someone got to the bottom of this issue. So buckle-up and settle in as we answer the biggest questions about missing number plates.

Does your car need a front number plate?

Yes, is the short answer! But let us explain…

Picture the scene. A UK Lamborghini driver is pulled over after police discovered issues with his number plates. Unfortunately, not only did he have no front number plate at all, but his rear number plate did not conform to DVLA standards. His claim that Lamborghini don’t supply a front number plate sparked conversation about car number plates, and led to our investigation of rising number plate crimes..

The issue is, despite being a non-negotiable legal requirement, many UK drivers choose to go without number plates. And, many of those drivers have their own reasons or explanations for their missing plates, like in the example above.

We’ve conducted a number of “Freedom Of Information” requests to figure out the scale of this problem, and we’ll also be looking into some of the reasons why people may go without a number plate. Plus, what you can do to avoid breaking any number plate laws, as many people do so unknowingly, which can lead to significant fines.

Are missing number plates a common problem?

We reached out to UK police forces and some areas have confirmed they have seen a huge increase in all number plate violations, such as an increase of 318% in one area (between 2019-2022), which of course is extremely concerning to motorists. Number plate violations include not displaying a front or rear plate, obscuring the registration mark & failure to conform to number plate regulations.

Whilst not all areas are affected equally by number plate violations there seems to be a growing trend for motorists in major UK cities failing to display a front number plate.

Some areas such as Merseyside have seen increases of 18% regarding vehicles failing to display a front number plate. Merseyside is not alone with Humberside, Wiltshire & Essex having also seen rises in the levels of motorists failing to display their front number plate.

So, this is clearly a prevalent issue. But why?

Why do so many Cars have no front number plates?

Let’s start with the claim “Lamborghini don’t supply a front number plate” from the Derbyshire driver. Are Lamborghinis being sold without plates on the front?

The answer is: probably not. But…maybe?

Since cars are sold by dealers all over the UK, if there are dealerships selling cars without plates, finding them would be very difficult. So, one of the reasons people are driving without number plates could be that they are being sold without them.

However, the responsibility is on the driver to ensure that their vehicle is road legal. Even if you bought your car used, and the previous owner did not have number plates, you need to ensure that you have road legal plates on the car before driving.

In some cases, a lack of number plates may be due to other criminal activity. Number plates make it easier for the police to track vehicles, so a criminal may remove their plates, or clone somebody else’s plates. If a car is stolen, one of the first things the criminal may do is remove the plates, making it harder for the police to track down that car.

But it’s likely that not every driver without plates is being willfully malicious. Government legislation can be confusing, and does not always make the rules clear to motorists. The government website states that if a vehicle “does not have a body of a type which is characteristic of the body of a four-wheeled vehicle…a plate need not be fixed on the front of the vehicle if it was first registered before 1st September 2001 - it’s also notable that motorbikes don’t require a front number plate.

With all these exceptions, it can be a challenge to confirm whether your vehicle requires a front plate.

There is also the issue of supercars, and other expensive vehicles, like the Lamborghini that was stopped in Derbyshire. Since these cars are often aerodynamic and sleek by design, some drivers are hesitant to add anything to their car that they believe might interrupt this design, like a number plate. There seems to be a belief that front number plates ruin or otherwise negatively impact the style of these cars.

This has been an ongoing issue for many years. In 2018, the Daily Mail reported that “Dozens of wealthy owners living in the most exclusive areas of London have dispensed with plates on their Lamborghinis and Ferraris.”

Number plate expert Antony Clark made the point that “In the case of Supercars, a monetary fine is not a deterrent. These consequences are not harsh to people who can afford such expensive cars.” He added “If we want to see a decrease in number plate crime, authorities might need to consider alternatives, such as points on a licence or detaining vehicles.”

10/04/2024 another Supercar incident reported

Twitter / X post by WILTS SPECIAL OPS. Green car with no front number plate. Text reads: It's not easy being Green. #RPU with the Aventador stopped due to no front registration plate. The plate was in the car but the sticky tabs needed replacing

Why do cars need number plates, and are there other number plate rules to follow?

All UK road going 4-wheeled motorised vehicles must have number plates fitted at the front and at the rear. Number plates help identify cars, making every car unique, so that data about these cars can be tracked, stored, and processed. Many people (like us) also find number plates to be a good way to customise your car, and make it more personal to you.

So, let’s assume you are following the law, and displaying a number plate on the front and back of your car. What rules might you be breaking with those number plates?

There are a number of other specifications to follow, including the colour and material of the plate, though some regulations are dependent on the age of the vehicle. To learn more, check out our other article, Are Your UK Number Plates Legal? As mentioned above, the Derbyshire driver’s backplates did not conform to standards, which was a major issue. It’s difficult to say which rule he was breaking, as there are a number of them. This is why it’s so important to get your plates from a provider that only supplies road-legal plates - like us!

There are some variations - for example, motorbikes only have rear number plates. But you should always follow the regulations for your specific vehicle. According to the DVLA, “You could be fined up to £1,000 and your vehicle will fail its MOT test if you drive with incorrectly displayed number plates.”

Whether or not cars are being sold without plates, it’s clear that they shouldn’t be driven without them on public roads. The responsibility for ensuring your car is road-legal and has appropriate plates falls on the driver. Any drivers who decide to remove their plates for any reason will likely end up receiving the unwanted attention of His Majesty’s Constabulary and then with a fine. A driver who acquires a plateless car and drives it on the public highway without adding number plates, will face the same consequence.

Don’t want to ruin the look of your vehicle with a boring number plate? Consider a distinctive Private Plate!

As mentioned above, some drivers avoid plates because they’re worried about ruining the style of their vehicle. If you want your plates to be as stylish as your car but still totally legal, you could use private number plates! Private number plates are a great accessory for any vehicle as they allow you to express yourself to the world.

We have a variety of Supercar specific plates that might fit your needs, including a bunch that use the letters from “Super” to go with your car! Take a look at the examples below.

Great Value, premium number plates

Cheapest Dateless Number Plates

Cheapest Dateless “Number Ones”

2 letter by 2 number dateless registration marks

2 number by 2 letter dateless registration marks


Have you seen a car without a front number plate? Do you think there should be stricter consequences for rule breakers or are there more important things to worry about?

Let us know on Facebook! And if you fancy new number plates for your car, browse our selection here: Private Plates Search.

Cover Image sourced from Glos Police Special Ops on X