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What Are 3D and 4D Number Plates and Are They Legal?

What Are 3D and 4D Number Plates and Are They Legal?

It’s obviously a legal requirement to have valid number plates on your car to identify it. But a great way to add an individual touch your car and make it stand out from the crowd is to display personalised number plates. However, some drivers want to take their personalisation a bit further by using plates with different fonts, background patterns or 3D and 4D plates.

While 3D and 4D number plates have become more popular in recent years, there is some confusion about their legality under the latest regulations. Unfortunately, you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law and facing a hefty fine if your number plates don’t conform to the legal standard.

So, What Are 3D and 4D Plates?

Firstly, 3D-effect number plates look similar to regular plates, but they use a distinctive bevelled font and slightly different coloured shading. This creates the illusion that the characters are 3D, although they are actually flush with the surface of the plate. The other main type of 3D number plates feature raised characters made from acrylic that are attached to the plate by hand.

When it comes to 4D plates, the numbers and letters are laser-cut from a sheet of acrylic. The characters are thicker and more angular to make them stand out more prominently for a striking effect. You can also get 3D gel plates with characters created from a resin gel which gives them a more domed and glossy appearance.

Are 3D and 4D Number Plates Legal?

Since new legislation was introduced on 31st September 2021, the regulations for UK number plates have become stricter. The 3D style (not-embossed) grey & black lettering have now been outlawed but if you already have these do not worry. Your vehicle is still legal, its just not possible to obtain them anymore from Registered Number Plate Suppliers. The plates must have characters in a single shade of black with a white background for the front plate and yellow background for the rear. They are not permitted to have any background pattern and must be marked with the supplier’s details and the new British Standard number, which is BS AU 145e.

The DVLA website does state that your number plates can have raised 3D characters. However, the characters must not be removable, reflective or stand out so much that they can’t be read from a particular angle.

This has resulted in a bit of a grey area and drivers of vehicles with 3D or 4D number plates are being regularly stopped by the police. While buying personalised number plates is a fun prospect, the safest advice is to stick with regular (Standard) 2D plates supplied by a registered number plate supplier such as CarReg. However 4D are fully legal and are a popular choice.

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