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Full information about transferring and retaining number plates can be found on the website:

Number plate spacing- why does it matter?

With the advent of automatic number plate recognition - the need for all number plates to conform to a certain size and style has become very important as it makes the task of reading number plates far easier.

With so many motorists using illegal spacing, different sizes and styles of fonts and plates- the DVLA regulate number plates into as many simplified areas as they can.

Broadly the DVLA stipulate the following rules:

  • A number plate must appear on the front and rear of a vehicle.
  • Number plates must be easy to read.
  • Front numberplates must be white and rear number plates yellow- both with black lettering.
  • Numberplates must be reflective.
  • Number plates for pre 1973 vehicles need not be reflective.
  • Lettering must be a set size, shape and style

Number plate font


In line with regulating the size of the number plate itself; it makes sense that the number plate font itself is uniform.

All new number plates are required to use the "Charles Wright Font" - pictured below.
Anything other than this is deemed illegal- there is only one number plate font.

Number plates for vehicles constructed before 1st January 1973

Vehicles built before 1st January 1973 are entitled to bear black and silver non reflective number plates.

The font must be easy to read but need not be the official Charles Wright font as prescribed for later number plates.

Some vehicles built after 1st January 1973 carry black and silver number plates - this is a breach of the DVLA regulations and is punishable.

Imported vehicle number plate sizes

Certain imported vehicles have smaller space on the grille or bumper for a plate and the DVLA recognise this by allowing imported vehicles to carry number plates of different dimensions to that of the main regulation.

Motorbike number plates

Clearly motorbikes have different sizes of number plates to cars or lorries; motorbikes built before 1st Sept 2001 can have a 3 line number plate, otherwise all other bikes must have a 2 line number plate.

Motorbikes with one line number plates are illegal.

Penalties for breaking number plate regulations

  • A fine of up to £1000
  • The registration number may be withdrawn
  • The vehicle may fail the MOT

All of this information can be found in the DVLA’s guide to how to display numberplates.