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Replacement number plates

Buying replacement number plates used to be easy. All it took was a quick trip to the local car accessories shop or market stall. You'd even find people making up number plates at car boot sales. But then the regulations tightened up.

The use of cloned (copied) or stolen number plates in offences such as driving off without paying for fuel and evading congestion charges was perceived to increase. False plates have also been used to dodge parking and speeding penalties. New legislation was put in place and tight restrictions introduced on who can make number plates and how they can sell them.

Number plate manufacturers now have to be registered with DVLA/DfT. They have to manufacture number plates in compliance with strict rules governing the physical properties of the plates, the characters used to display the registration number and any decoration such as flags, borders etc. Manufacturers must also mark each plate with information identifying them as the maker.

Read the number plates rules for detailed information on fonts and spacing.

In addition to the tightened regulation of manufacture, extra precautions were introduced at the point of sale. Purchasers now have to produce an array of documents proving their entitlement to buy the number plates for a registration number, and to establish their identity.

According to DVLA, one or more of the following documents is acceptable as proof of identity and address:

  • Driving licence
  • Utility, Council Tax or rates bill from the last 6 months
  • Bank or building society statement from the last 6 months
  • National identity card

DVLA also say that the following documents are acceptable as proof of identity:

  • passport - doesn’t have to be issued in the UK
  • bank or building society debit or credit card
  • police warrant card
  • armed forces identity card

But as you are required to prove address as well as identity, we wonder what use any of the documents in the second list is unless you already have one from the first list that proves both!

To satisfy the requirement for proof of entitlement to buy number plates to display the registration, one of the following documents is acceptable:

  • V5C vehicle registration certificate or V5CNI in Northern Ireland (AKA the car's log book)
  • the car's V5C/2 or V5C/2NI new keeper supplement
  • V750 or V750NI certificate of entitlement
  • V778 retention document for the registration
  • car tax renewal reminder showing the registration
  • V379 or V379NI temporary registration certificate
  • an officially stamped V948 number plate authorisation certificate, or the electronic version (eV948)
  • letter of authorisation from a fleet operator (including lease or hire company) quoting the document reference number from the registration certificate
  • if your fleet is in the new V5C on demand scheme, a PDF of the vehicle’s details from the view vehicle record service

It is still possible to find companies and individuals prepared to break the law and to produce number plates that do not comply to regulations. These parties are generally not registered and they do not insist upon sight of the required documents. We very strongly recommend that you should avoid these illegal services. Enforcement is becoming more stringent, the penalties for selling and displaying illegal plates are harsh and getting harsher, and illegal number plates are often pretty easy to spot.

  • Autocar
  • Autotrader
  • Car Magazine
  • Classic And Sports Car Magazine
  • Country Life magazine
  • Daily Mail
  • Daily Telegraph
  • Easyjet
  • Google
  • Sunday Times
  • Top Gear Magazine

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