All road-worthy cars in the UK have had to have number plates, also known as registration plates in the UK since 1903. But, while number plates have changed a great deal since then, recently, number plates with a green strip on the front have started appearing on roads in the UK.
Let’s look at why some cars have green number plates and whether they’re essential so you know whether you need to get them to.
Why Do Cars Have Number Plates?
Cars have had number plates for over one hundred years, and now all vehicles that can be driven on the road are required to have them, from motorbikes to tractors and mobility scooters. A lot of car models can look very similar, and you see many of the same models and colours on the road so it can be hard to tell one from another. With 1.54 million Ford Fiestas on Britain’s roads, and grey being the most popular choice of colour for cars, would you be able to tell one grey Ford Fiesta apart from another without a number plate? Exactly.
Number plates’ main purpose is to help other drivers, pedestrians and the police identify a car if an accident or crime has taken place, so they can find the car and identify the driver.
But number plates aren’t a completely random collection of letters and numbers either. Number plates are made up of three groups of characters:
- Group 1: two letters identifying the area the vehicle was registered in
- Group 2: two numbers identifying the year the vehicle was registered in
- Group 3: three random letters to make the number plate unique
Unless you have a personalised number plate, yours should follow this format.
Why Do Electric Cars Have Green Number Plates?
Green number plates were introduced by the Ministry of Transport in December 2020 to promote electric vehicles. As green is the most common colour in the world of plants, it’s come to be closely associated with eco-friendly practices and protecting the environment. So, while not every electric vehicle (EV) is easily differentiated from standard motorised vehicles with petrol or diesel engines, the green number plate was brought in to show how many EVs there are on Britain’s roads and promote their usage.
The government plans to prohibit sales of any new petrol or diesel cars in Britain by 2035, so introducing green number plates was part of their plan to promote electric vehicles to those buying new cars, by raising more awareness of them.
When we refer to green number plates, we don’t mean the entire plate is green, however. All number plates in the UK have to be black characters on a white reflective background on the front of the vehicle and black characters on a yellow background on the back of the vehicle to make them easily identified in all weather conditions. Green number plates look the same in this respect, but have a green strip at the left side of the plate, where you may usually see a flag and the initial of a country on other cars.
You may have seen number plates that differ from these rules; cars made and registered before 1973 can keep their black number plates with silver characters and don’t have to adhere to the new rules introduced in 1973.
Do Electric Cars Have to Have Green Number Plates?
Although all new cars are made with green number plates, it’s not a requirement for all electric vehicles, so you don’t have to change to a green number plate if you don’t want to. There was a suggestion that there may be incentives introduced for drivers of electric cars which would be easily redeemable by having a green number plate, such as free or discounted parking, so it may be in your interests to get a green number plate in the future. However, such perks are yet to be announced.
Only all-electric vehicles are allowed to have green number plates to show that they’re not producing emissions on the road, so petrol and diesel cars can’t have these number plates, and nor can hybrid vehicles. If you’re caught with a number plate that breaks the DVLA’s rules, you will face a fine of up to £1000.
How Do You Get a Green Number Plate?
If you have an older electric vehicle or are on your way to purchase one, you can change the number plate to a green one. Simply find a government-approved number plate supplier on the government’s website by entering your postcode in the search box to find a trustworthy location near you. There are strict regulations for number plates in the UK, so the best way to get a new number plate you can rely on to meet the standards and pass the MOT test is by using an approved source.
As well as having to be white and yellow backgrounds with black text, all UK number plates must:
- 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
If the number plate meets these specifications, you can use it for your vehicle.
How Do You Personalise Your Number Plate?
Getting a new car can be very exciting – even if it’s simply new to you – and “pimping” your car, so to speak, can be an even more exciting prospect to petrolheads. But since your number plate has to abide by so many restrictions, what can you do to make your number plate more interesting?
Well one popular new way of making your number plate stand out, is by making it with 4D characters, that literally stand out from the plate.
You can also personalise your number plate by changing the layout of the characters to spell something personal, whether it’s your name, your job or your favourite football team. All you have to do is buy the personalised number plate online, assign it to your vehicle via the government’s website (ensuring you meet their conditions), have the plate made by an approved provider and inform your insurance company of the changes.
Can You Drive Electric Vehicles Abroad?
One easy change to make to your number plate is getting the new “UK” strip on the left of your plate. You cannot drive a vehicle abroad without having either “UK” on your number plate or as a sticker on the rear of your vehicle. If you want to add a slightly personal twist to your number plate you can choose whether you have the Union Jack, a St George’s Flag, a Wlesh Dragon or a St Andrew’s Flag as the symbol.
If you have an electric vehicle with a green number plate, you can’t drive this abroad without a UK sticker on the rear of your vehicle.
UK stickers replaced the GB stickers in 2021 so make sure you get the right one for your car to be able to drive abroad.
Number Plate Clinic – Get Your Green Number Plates Today!
If you’ve got an electric vehicle and you want a new green number plate that is government-approved as road-legal, then look no further than the professional plates at the Number Plate Clinic!
Contact our customer service team, take a look at our range of other number plate services in our workshop, or learn more about our affiliate program where you can earn a commission on all sales and get prompt payments simply by promoting the Number Plate Clinic!