Is your personalised number plate legal?


The Law requires that plates must be legible and conform to a set standard so they can easily be read.

Author: Howard Tilney
Reading time: 2 minutes

This article is 4 years old.

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Drivers risk a £1,000 fine and a failed MOT because of illegal registration plates.

Buying an approved personalised registration is all well and good but placing bolts or tweaking the spacing to spell out a message is illegal.

The Law requires that plates must be legible and conform to a set standard so they can easily be read. Failing to do this can lead to a hefty fine, a failed MOT and the loss of the plate.

In an effort to remove illegal plates, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and traffic officers are cracking down.
The worst areas for number plate offences (2015-2017)
Over the past three years, according to, around 15,000 number plate offences have been recorded. This includes vehicles failing to comply with regulations due to dirty and obscured plates and vehicles with no licence plates fitted at all!

The five mistakes that drivers commonly make with number plates may be listed as follows:

1.    The wrong colour – Number plates should have black characters on a white background on the front, and on a yellow background on the rear;

2.    Incorrect spacing – The correct spacing should read e.g. AC55 ABC;

3.    Illegal background – Use of a non-conforming background that is not a plain colour or features stickers, which interfere with the plate’s legibility, is illegal.

4.    The wrong font – Only the standard “Charles Wright” font is acceptable.

5.    A different flag – The only flags valid on the far left of the plate are the EU flag, the Union Jack, the St George Cross, the Scottish Saltire (St Andrew Cross), and the Red Dragon of Wales. Letters accompanying these flags are limited to the following:

            GREAT BRITAIN, Great Britain or GB
            UNITED KINGDOM, United Kingdom or UK
            ENGLAND, England, ENG, Eng
            SCOTLAND, Scotland, SCO or Sco
            CYMRU, Cymru, CYM or Cym
            WALES or Wales

Howard Tilney

Legal Advisor

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