What Are the Number Plate Spacing Laws?

Number plate spacing

Number plates in the UK have followed a strict format since 1901. The most recent change came about in 2001 when the previous format had become completely saturated, and there was no more space for new vehicles to be made with different plates. The new format of number plates – which most people will be familiar with – is made up of two characters, followed by two numbers, and finally three further characters.

The format was selected for its simplicity, and for individuals to be able to memorise the characters easily. This format was also introduced for better integration with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera programming, as it allows the cameras to recognise a registration correctly and at high speeds. ANPR cameras are used for a multitude of reasons, mostly by law enforcement agencies such as the police, private companies, local authorities, the DVSA and the DVLA.

With this in mind, it is essential that we adhere to specific number plate spacing laws, so that we may strengthen the effectiveness of our ANPR cameras and the overall safety and security of our communities.

We have created this blog in support of this, outlining what you can and can’t do, as well as the consequences for not following the rules, so that you may comfortably design a number plate that is both compliant with regulations and unique to your desires.

Can the Spaces on a Number Plate Be Changed?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to customise the spacing of the characters in your registration, even if you have a private number plate. If your friend or colleague has suggested otherwise, or that there has been a number plate spacing law change, then they are mistaken. The rules have been in place for many years and have never wavered.

Can Incorrect Number Plate Spacing Cause a Vehicle To Fail an MOT?

If you attempt to alter the character spacing of your registration, then you can absolutely fail your MOT, rendering you unable to use your car legally. MOT test centres must comply with exactly the same rules as a Registered Number Plate Supplier (RNPS) when manufacturing new plates.

Such regulations extend much further than simply the spacing of the characters and must also follow strict sizing dimensions. These include:

  • Character height: 79mm
  • Character width: 57mm
  • Character stroke: 14mm
  • Space between each character: 11mm
  • Space between the two character groupings: 33mm
  • Space between vertical lines: 19mm
  • Side, top, and bottom margins (minimum): 11mm

What Will Happen if I Change the Spacing of My Car Registration?

If you were to alter your registration plates so that they display incorrectly on your vehicle, and are pulled over or caught by the police, then you may be fined. You could face a fine of up to £1000 each time you’re caught.

Number Plate Solutions With Uniplate

If you’re looking for professionals who know what they’re doing when it comes to number plate production, or even better, if you’re looking to supply and print the correct number plates yourself, then Uniplate is an innovative and leading professional in the registration plate industry.

With a growing global network, we have almost 30 years of experience, so you can be assured that we offer nothing but the best quality. Are you curious about other ways in which you could legally personalise your registration in a unique way? Why not check out our blog on types of number plates.



If you’d like to know more about how we can provide a solution for your needs or have any further questions regarding the information presented throughout this blog, then please do not hesitate to get in touch! Our team would love to hear from you and would be more than happy to help.