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When You Could Be Fined For Private Number Plates

Could Your Private Number Plate Land You a Big Fine?

Buying a private number plate helps to give your car a unique individual touch. But many drivers are tempted to make their plates look even more cool or snazzy. Recent trends have included using italic fonts, different sized characters, changing the spacing between letters and numbers, and using coloured screws to alter the appearance of the number.

However, there are strict regulations in place to ensure that number plates are made in the correct style to comply with the law. If you display non-compliant plates, you can be issued with a fine of up to £1,000.

A spokesperson from said, “A number plate is essentially a car’s passport – and you wouldn’t change the format of your own passport, so why mess with your car’s?

“They carry lots of important information to do with tax and licencing, and so not following the rules can result in some very large fines.”

The technical standards for UK number plates are set by the British Standards Institute and have been updated for 2021. You must get your number plates made up by a registered supplier such as CarReg who will ensure that they conform to the following rules.


Your number plates must be made of reflective material with black characters on a white background on the front of the vehicle and black characters on a yellow background at the rear.


In 2001, a standard font was introduced to make number plates easier to read. This meant that italic letters and other difficult to read styles would no longer be allowed. The characters and the spaces between them must be specific sizes. You can see the details on the DVLA website.


Newly issued number plates are formatted with two letters identifying where the vehicle was first registered, two numerals that show the year of first registration, followed by three random letters.

National Flags

You can display a national flag or identifier on the left-hand side of your number plate. It can be the Union Flag, the Cross of St George, the Cross of St Andrew or the Welsh Red Dragon. Since the UK left the European Union, you can no longer have the GB EU flag put on your number plate. You will also need to display a GB sticker when travelling in Europe.

Displaying Number Plates

Your number must be displayed at all times at the front and back of your vehicle. They must be placed vertically and easily readable by law enforcement officers and ANPR cameras. You should also make sure they are clean and clearly visible.

Private Number Plates

Private number plates should conform to the above standards. However, while the characters can be in different formats, it is illegal to display plates that make the vehicle look younger.

To find your personalised number plates, search the huge CarReg database, and have them make up your plates so that you can be sure they conform to the legal standards.