Specifications for number plates in UK

It is mandatory for motor vehicles using British roads to display number plates containing a unique alphanumeric sequence provided by the DVLA. The display must conform to specifications outline in the British Standard AU 145e:2018 and the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001.



We have compiled below a brief summary of some of the major technical specification requirements.


• Material


Like previous standards, BS AU 145e does not specify the material that needs to be used to manufacture number plates. However, the photometric, durability and retroreflectivity requirement generally adhere to the properties of acrylic, which has been the primary material used for number plates production for well over half a century.


• Dimension


Again, BS AU 145e does not specify the exact dimensions of number plates. However, owing to UK’s proximity to the EU, car and number plate manufacturers have opted to emulate the size of number plates found in Western European countries, which is 520mm by 110mm. Please refrain from displaying overly large number plates, as some private plates owners used to do.


• Colour


There are few compounds which can rival acrylic’s natural contrast, and this feature is absolutely crucial for accurate Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras reading. It’s not all acrylic though. BS AU 145e stipulates that white and yellow are the only background colours which can be used for front and rear plates respectively. The alphanumeric registration marks, meanwhile, must be in black.


• Typeface


Charles Wright 2001, standard, is the only font permitted to be use for numbers and letters on number plates. This requirement applies to any personalised number plate.


• Display Location


It is mandatory for number plates to be displayed at the front and rear of all four wheeled vehicles.


Motorcycles and other three wheeled vehicles are only required to display a single number plate at the rear owing to space constraints.