Whether you’re worried about making sure your vehicle passes its MOT by being fully compliant with DVLA regulations, or you’re trying to be sneaky and reduce your chances of getting caught by speed cameras, it’s good to know what number plates are legal and whether new designs can be spotted by cameras.
Number plates are designed to be easily spotted, so the chances are that if it’s legal on the roads, it will be seen by cameras. So let’s see; can cameras see 4D plates?
Why Do We Have Number Plates?
Number plates are designed to be easily seen and make cars easy to identify. If you’re involved in an incident, you’ll need to be identified by other drivers, onlookers, the police and ANPR cameras, so your number plate will have to be visible in all kinds of weather conditions, from a distance, and at different angles.
Number plates were first made mandatory in 1903 and in 1973 it was made compulsory for all new vehicle registration plates to be made using black characters on a reflective white background on the front of a vehicle and a reflective yellow background on the back. These colour combinations were proven to be the easiest to read, so the rules came into place to ensure all vehicle number plates could be read, and to make it clear from a distance and in an instant whether a vehicle was facing you or not.
Today, number plates also have a specific grouping of characters to make their registration location and date easily identifiable.
Non-personalised UK number plates follow the following format:
- On the left, two letters representing the area the vehicle was registered in
- In the middle, two numbers representing the year the vehicle was registered in
- On the right, three random letters to differentiate the vehicle
Most personalised number plates will also follow this character grouping, although they can differ slightly, and the characters don’t represent the registration.
What Are 4D Number Plates?
Most standard number plates are made with 2D characters, so the letters and numbers on the number plate are flat against the background as if they’ve been printed directly on. 4D number plates have a unique appearance as the characters stand out from the background.
3D number plates are slightly raised from the plate, however, 4D number plates are different as they stand directly out from the background, producing a shadow if a light is shone on them.
4D plates are about adding a touch of class and style to your vehicle to personalise it and make people turn their heads when you drive by. With high-quality materials and a splash of innovation, 4D number plates are far from the mundane, but rather a statement piece.
Are 4D Number Plates Legal in the UK?
To be legal in the UK and pass an MOT, number plates need to adhere to all of the DVLA’s regulations of character size, spacing, colour and font, and be clearly visible to people and cameras. So as long as your 4D number plate is made by a registered number plate manufacturer, it will meet all of these regulations and is perfectly legal for use on the road.
You can also get 4D show plates if you wish, but these aren’t permitted to be driven, or even parked, on public roads in the UK.
Can Cameras See 4D Plates UK?
As 4D plates have characters that stick out, you may wonder if shadows obscure the lettering or if cameras have the technology to pick up the text – but fortunately, there’s nothing to worry about. 4D number plates are perfectly legal and can easily be seen on ANPR and speed cameras in the UK. In fact, 4D number plates are even clearer than 2D number plates as they don’t get as dirty from mud spray from the roads which can cover up some of the characters.
Whichever number plate you have, make sure it’s clean and the characters are easy to see; if you’re caught by the police or traffic wardens with an obscured number plate, you can face a hefty fine of up to £1000 and even have points on your licence. Wipe your number plate before taking it in for an MOT as well, as this could cause you to fail your MOT and you may have to pay extra for a second test.
UK Number Plate Regulations
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has many strict regulations to ensure that all number plates are easy to read and identify. Cars registered before 1973 can keep their original number plates with silver characters on a black background, however, every vehicle registered after this date must meet the new regulations.
The following list of rules applies to cars, vans, lorries, buses, campervans, caravans and vehicles with trailers. Number plates must:
- Have a white reflective background on the front number plate
- Have a yellow reflective background on the back number plate
- Have solid (one shade) black characters
- Use the Charles Wright 2001 font
- Have 79 mm high and 50 mm-wide characters, except for the letter “i” and number “1”
- Have characters made up of 14 mm-wide strokes
- Have 11 mm spaces between each character in a group
- Have 33 mm spaces between each group of characters
Motorbikes and motor tricycles should only have a rear number plate which covers two lines. Motorbikes and motor tricycles which were registered before 1 September 20021 can have a front and rear number plate if they wish, but this is not essential.
Large mobility scooters must also be registered with the DVLA but are not legally required to display their number plates.
Why Customise Your Number Plate?
Customising your number plate isn’t just about having a flashy accessory for your car; it’s a chance to make a statement and stand out from the sea of ordinary vehicles. It’s like giving your car its own, unique personality!
A custom number plate lets you showcase your individuality. Whether you’re a proud business owner, a sports fanatic, or just someone with a sense of humour, your plate can reflect that. It’s an instant conversation starter and a personal touch that turns heads in traffic.
While there aren’t so many ways to customise your number plate and still adhere to the DVLA’s number plate regulations, you can make your number plate unique by personalising the registration to your name, football team or business, getting 4D characters to stand out from the crowd, or adding a border to your number plate for a simple, elegant touch.
It’s also not just about style, but about making your car memorable. Personalised plates are easy to remember, so friends and family can spot you in a crowded car park without too much trouble, and admire your plates when they see them.
Are Customised Number Plates Expensive?
Customised number plates don’t have to be expensive; 4D plates can cost between £50 and £100 depending on which manufacturer you buy them from. Make sure they’re from a registered supplier to ensure they adhere to the UK’s regulations.
If you’re after a personalised number plate, however, you can spend a lot of money. Many personalised plates have already been registered so you have to wait for them to go up for auction and risk paying thousands for a highly sought-after number. But if your personalised plate is up for grabs, you can pay anything from £250 to over £1000 for it.
Any word, phrase or reference deemed offensive or inappropriate will not be permitted, so check the list of banned number plates before trying to be cheeky and getting a naughty number plate made.
Number Plate Clinic – Get Your Number Plate Today!
At the Number Plate Clinic, we specialise in creating bespoke number plates of many styles, each adhering to the DVLA’s regulations.