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Show plates and keeping it legal

Show plates are number plates that are sometimes used to replace a car's normal, road-legal registration plates for a special event or display.

A showplate seen at an event on Harpenden Common

They may show a name, a word or even a logo, but they are purely for display off the public highway.

You will most often see show plates at a car or motorcycle show, or in a car sales showroom where they often spell the name of the car model displayed for sale.

While they can be useful to make a car look its best at a special event, they have their hazards. There are countless show plate suppliers advertising on the internet.

Some of those companies are also suppliers of actual, regulation compliant registration number plates. That can be a little confusing and can blur the important distinction between registration plates and show plates.

The law is very clear about the supply of registration plates in the UK.

A showplate at the Devitt MCN Festival of Motorcycling event in 2022

The companies who sell them have to satisfy a whole list of conditions specifying the physical properties of the plates, and the checks that must be carried out to ensure that they are only sold to people who should have them.

These restrictions are put in place in an effort to stop criminals from easily obtaining bogus plates that could be used to hide a vehicle's identity during a criminal enterprise.

It used to be fairly easy for people to obtain registration number plates featuring illegal badges and emblems, character spacing or fonts by claiming that they were for show use only.

This has become more difficult in recent years as it is now illegal to manufacture a plate bearing a DVLA-issued registration number on any number plate that does not comply with the rules and regulations for displaying number plates on the road.

There are still a fair number of companies flouting the law in this regard, but they are becoming more obvious and the authorities are taking action more frequently to prosecute.

Our top tip: Don't risk a heavy fine and the loss of your private registration. Always display regulation compliant number plates when your car is on the road.

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The role of DVLA

Car registrations and number plates, including personalised number plates, in the UK, are the responsibility of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, usually known as the DVLA. It issues new registrations twice a year and also maintains the central database that records details of all vehicles licensed to drive on UK roads, along with their keeper and registration information.

Regtransfers works closely with DVLA to complete registration transfers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Regtransfers is a DVLA-registered supplier of personal car registrations and number plates and is listed on the DVLA Registrations website. All number plates supplied by Regtransfers comply with DVLA's prescribed standards and regulations.

DVLA administers all UK registration transfers and issues updated registration documents when the registration number of a car is changed, or when a registration is removed from a vehicle and placed on a retention document in accordance with the DVLA Retention Scheme.

DVLA is a registered trade mark of the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency. Regtransfers is not affiliated with the DVLA or DVLA Personalised Registrations. Regtransfers is a recognised reseller of unissued Government stock.

Number plate regulations

When a car is on the road, it is an offence to display number plates bearing any number other than the vehicle's officially recorded registration number. If you purchase a private registration, learn how to transfer private plates before displaying the new number.

All registration number plates displayed on UK vehicles must comply with the official number plate regulations. DVLA oversees enforcement of number plates display regulations and maintains a register of approved manufacturers and retailers of vehicle number plates.

Regtransfers is not part of, and is not formally affiliated with DVLA.

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