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Research and Testing

How we test plates

The UK has numerous stringent requirements on number plate constructions, BNMA members meet or exceed them all with the BNMA’s support.

What we test

Testing is top of our agenda; it ensures plates are safe, visible and legal.

The BNMA supports its members by co-ordinating the independent testing of every construction of number plate they supply, to ensure our members remain the source of legitimately compliant materials.

We lobbied heavily for this kind of independent testing (known as Third Party Certification) to become law as part of the new BS AU 145e standard. As an industry association, we want to prevent reputational damage to number plate manufacturing as an industry and feel we are responsible for helping prevent self-certified plates from non-members failing in the marketplace.

The previous rounds of tests, as arranged by BNMA in preparation for BS AU 145e, cost over £45,000, showing our commitment to our members and the wider marketplace.

Complete plates made of every set of matched components supplied by our members are tested against the criteria of BS AU 145e. The tests look for durability and readability in particular.


Durability: resisting weather and busy roads.

A plate’s durability is critical to resist the UK’s weather and its busy roads. Durability is assured from BNMA members because all plates are independently tested to be readable (see below) after they have been abrasion, corrosion, bend, adhesion and thermal change tested. All these tests combined ensure that plates remain clear despite road and weather conditions over a long period of time. For example, 5 years’ wear-and-tear is replicated on the plate using a variety of tools, chemicals and stimuli, to ensure longevity.


Readability: staying safe and seen

The UK has an ANPR camera every 19 miles*. It’s therefore critical that plates can be read by humans and cameras alike. A number plate includes multiple features that make reading easy. The most noticeable feature, retroreflectivity helps vehicles be seen seconds earlier than non-reflective plates, keeping roads as safe as possible. An invisible feature, Near Infrared contrast, is included in plates to help ANPR cameras read plates at speed. Opaque background and digit colours help both human and ANPR reading by showing a clear difference between the background and the registration. Finally, the correct positioning of fastenings keeps plates clear – check out our recommendations based on BS AU 145e.


How do we ensure that printing at motor traders is compliant?

Plates made using on-site systems must meet the same standards as those made at our members’ factories. In some ways, it’s even more critical because most of the UK’s plates are made on-site at a Registered Number Plate Supplier.

Our members submit samples of every plate construction that can possibly be produced by them or their motor trader customers. This is known as matched components and prevents products that don’t comply unintentionally entering the market.

A good number plate system, in our experience:
• Consistently prints an opaque density of black
• Makes lamination easy and durable
• Is simple and quick to use

Finally, and most importantly, it makes plates that are fully compliant with the British Standard.


Find out more

Click here to find out more about all the tests used to certify plates to the British Standard.