The answers to your frequently asked questions.
Are gel digits legal under BS AU 145e?
Yes, the DVLA has clarified that providing they create no ‘highlighting or 3D effects’, 3D gel digits are legal under the new standard BS AU 145e.
Are 3D digits legal under BS AU 145e?
It depends what kind of 3D digit.
Fonts that are not solid black (e.g. high-line, carbon-effect fonts) are illegal on any plate supplied or fitted after September 1st, 2021 when BS AU 145e became mandatory.
However, solid black acrylic or gel digits affixed to the front of plates are currently viewed by DVLA as legal under BS AU 145e. See the letter at the bottom of the Legal Fonts page for more information.
Are 3D/4D plates with digits that include either clear or coloured parts legal? (These are sometimes called “Krystal” or “Neon” 4D plates).
No, under BS AU 145e these are illegal, because the digits must be ‘solid black’.
Download the letter on at the bottom of the Legal Fonts page for more information.
Because BS AU 145e is an enhanced version of BS AU 145d, if a plate meets 145e, it also meets 145d.
The British Standard
What is BS AU 145e?
BS AU 145e is the new British Standard for retroreflecting number plates which becomes mandatory for vehicle number plates after September 1st, 2021.
A copy of the standard can be purchased directly from BSI here: https://shop.bsigroup.com/products/specification-for-retroreflecting-number-plates-4/standard
My number plates meet BS AU 145d but not BS AU 145e, do I need to change them?
No, providing they (145d plates) were fitted on or before 31st August 2021. The new British Standard BS AU 145e only applies to plates supplied on or after 1st September 2021. Plates meeting the previous standard (BS AU 145d) can remain on your vehicle if supplied before then.
Do my plates have to show the BS AU 145e mark on the bottom right?
If they are fitted on or after September 1st, 2021, yes.
The new British Standard BS AU 145e applies to all plates made from that date.
Plates must also show the outlet’s name and postcode in the bottom centre of the plate, in one non-reflecting colour.
If the plate does not show the BS mark with the manufacturer’s name or the outlet’s name and postcode then it is not a legal plate. It is illegal both to supply such a plate and to display it on a vehicle.
What should I do if I have bought new number plates but think they do not meet the British Standard?
We would recommend talking to your retailer first to see if they can resolve the issue.
If you still feel the issue is unresolved, you can contact Trading Standards using the details on their website https://www.tradingstandards.uk/consumers/support-advice
You can also contact the BNMA with your enquiry at https://www.bnma.org/contact/
I've bought a new set of registration plates and the front is 145d while the rear is 145e. Can I display both on my car or do the pair have to match?
Yes, you can legally display both, providing the 145d-standard plate was made and/or fitted on or before 31st August 2021.
Plates made and fitted on or after 1st September 2021 must be to the new British Standard, BS AU 145e.
It was perfectly legal for your outlet to supply either 145d or 145e plates between January and September 2021.
Plate construction and fixing
Are stick-on / self-adhesive plates legal? For example those stuck directly to the bonnet or bumper?
While the standard for number plates (BS AU 145e) is what is known as “non-prescriptive” (meaning it doesn’t specify the format of the plates exactly), it is generally thought that stick-on plates would fail one or more of the tests required under BS AU 145e so generally they would be illegal. If you are unsure, ask your supplier for a copy of their conformity certificate.
What is the best way of affixing the plates to my car, screw or adhesive?
Adhesive pads are the recommended (but not compulsory) method of fixing plates under BS AU 145e, which became mandatory in September 2021.
What are “grey” plates and are they legal?
Grey plates are plates that are obscured to make them less readable by ANPR cameras. They are likely to be illegal as your plate must be legible by a camera or human alike.
It is very unlikely that such plates pass the photometric requirements of the British Standard BS AU 145e and your supplier should be questioned on this. It is illegal to supply a plate that purports to pass the standard and does not. As mentioned elsewhere it is also illegal to supply (and display) a plate that does not have a BS marking with the manufacturers’ name.
Can you clarify the situation regarding ‘lipped’ plates? Are they legal or illegal to supply under the new standard BS AU 145e?
The Statutory Instrument (SI) introducing the standard sets out character spacing etc. based on research undertaken by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) on behalf of DVLA. As long as plate designs meet these criteria they are permitted.
Documents to buy number plates
My potential supplier of new number plates tells me that scanned or photographed documentation is perfectly legal, is this correct?
No. New number plates can only be supplied to consumers after the outlet has seen original documentation proving the vehicle ID and person’s ID.
Flags and plates for overseas travel
If GB EU plates are already fitted to a vehicle and a customer wants replacement plates to match, can we still supply and fit a GB EU plate? Or is it that we cannot supply GB EU plates at all?
To match the end of the Brexit transition period, it became illegal to fit GB EU plates to any vehicle from 1st January 2021.
Are GB EU plates valid for international travel?
GB EU plates no longer act as a national identifier for foreign travel, and must be accompanied by a UK sticker for overseas travel from September 28th, 2021.
If your number plate includes the UK identifier with the Union flag in the specified format (also known as the Union Jack), you do not need a UK sticker for the majority of EU travel*. But you will need to display a UK sticker clearly on the rear of your vehicle if your number plate has any of the following:
- a Euro symbol
- a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales
- numbers and letters only (no flag or identifier)
*If driving in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you must display a UK sticker no matter what is on your number plate.
What plates are legal for overseas travel?
From September 28th, 2021, the only options that are valid as a national identifier for your vehicle in most* overseas countries are:
- Union Flag (to the right specification)
- UK sticker
* If driving in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you must display a UK sticker no matter what is on your number plate.
Do flags have to have a coloured background or can they be on the white and yellow?
DfT recommended guidance is that the background colour for flags should be the white or yellow background colour of the plate. The new national identifier UK and Union Flag plates can also be displayed on a green background for zero-emission vehicles.
Given that I am required to put a UK sticker on the back of my car if travelling through Europe, does this mean I only need to change the rear plate on my car to include the new UK sign?
If you are changing your plates rather than using a UK sticker on the back only, we would recommend changing both front and rear plates to prevent any confusion while travelling overseas and the associated inconvenience.
Can I put a Green Flash plate on a petrol or diesel hybrid electric vehicle?
No. The vehicle must have zero emissions to be eligible for a green flash plate.
More information and DVLA advice
Further reading and advice can be found from the DVLA by the links that follow.