Update: revised British standard for number plates and 3D/4D number plates

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Update: revised British standard for number plates and 3D/4D number plates

Number plate

Revised British standard

From 1 September 2021 the new standard for number plates, BS AU 145e, will become mandatory for all number plates manufactured and first fixed to a vehicle from that date. 

This new standard has been developed in partnership with the British Standards Institute, number plate component manufacturing and supply industry, and the police.

Number plate suppliers who also manufacturer components in-house used in the assembly of number plates are responsible, by law, for ensuring those components can also comply with the standard.

If you’re unsure if the components you use comply with the new standard, contact your component supplier or manufacturer. A copy of the standard can be purchased from the British Standards Institute at www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/.


All number plates manufactured and fitted to vehicles from 1 September 2021 must comply fully with the new British Standard and be permanently marked with:

  • the British Standard number BS AU 145e
  • a means of identifying the supplier or manufacturer of the parts that have been used to assemble the registration plate should be printed next to BS AU 145e - this will usually be their company name
  • the name and postcode of the supplying outlet of the assembled registration plate - website addresses (unless they are the sole trading name of the company), telephone numbers and logos should not be used

All information must be displayed below the registration mark. The distance between the bottom of the registration mark and the other markings must be at least 7 millimetres.

It is recommended that BS AU145e and the part manufacturer or supplier identifier are printed on the bottom right and the number plate supplier details printed at the bottom centre. 

The markings must be:

  • permanently marked
  • non-retroreflecting
  • a single shade of non-retroreflecting colour
  • no less than 3 millimetres high and no more than 10 millimetres high


Where an optional border is being displayed it:

  • must be permanently marked
  • must be a single shade of non-retroreflecting colour without any design, pattern or texture
  • must be positioned no closer than 10 millimetres from the edge of any character of the registration mark
  • must not be positioned above any other markings and be no more than 5 millimetres in width
  • can intersect the other markings (such as supplier details or British Standard number)

Raised characters (including 3D/4D)

The new standard requires that plates only display single shade black lettering, so you cannot use different shades of black to produce 3D effects or highlighting.

On number plates with raised characters, including 3D gel and 4D number plates, the entire number plate must be able to fully comply with both the standard and legal requirements. This also includes the characters of the registration number.

It is already a requirement under the current British Standard that the entire surface of the characters of the registration number must be black.

This also includes the sides of the characters - the use of different coloured or clear sides is not permitted. Illuminated characters are not permitted. The characters of the registration number must not be removable.
A number plate must not be treated in any way that makes the characters of the registration number any less readable by eye or that would prevent or impair making a photographic image of the plate. Treatments include the use of tints, films, coverings, or other coatings over the surface of the number plate.