What Is The Legal Spacing & Letter Style On Number Plates?

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We’ve had a few of you guys asking about the legal spacing and lettering on plates since we started producing them and launched our online number plate designer , so we thought we’d write a post to hopefully clear the legalities up for you.

There are lots of different rules and regulations depending on the age & type of your vehicle together with whether it has been imported and the available space on the bodywork for the plates. All of these are detailed below, but the basic law on how to display a registration applies to all vehicles.

The law states that:

  • You must not rearrange misrepresent or alter the letters or numbers.
  • Characters mustn’t be moved from one group to the other (e.g. A123 ABC must not be displayed as A123A BC).

Offences may result in any/all of the following:

  • A fine of up to £1,000.
  • The registration may be WITHDRAWN.
  • The vehicle may FAIL it’s MOT test.

Full details of the requirements are included in The Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001.

Mandatory Character Font

From 1st September 2001 all new number plates must display the mandatory Charles Wright font. This, combined with the new ‘current’ style format is designed to make number plates clearer to read and easier to remember.
Number plates fitted before 1st September 2001 needn’t be changed as long the font used is more or less the same as the new font.

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

  • Stylised characters such as italics.
  • Number plate fixing bolts that alter the appearance of the characters.

Number Plates Fitted After 1st September 2001

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

  • 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 either of the dimensions shown below

  • 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

  • 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 2001 can display a number plate at the front but are not required to.

  • 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, whereas those registered prior to the 1st September 2001 may display a three-line plate. A one-line plate is illegal, irrespective of the date of registration of the motorcycle.

Anddd….. relax!

We actually almost fell asleep a few times writing this post so if you’ve made it all the way through it then we salute you! As always if you have a comment or question then please leave it below.

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