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  • David Edwards

Understanding Legal Number Plate Formats in the UK

Updated: Jul 2

Ensuring your vehicle's number plate adheres to legal standards is crucial for both safety and compliance. At Sandhurst Autoprint, we prioritise providing number plates that meet all regulatory requirements. Here’s a detailed guide to understanding the legal format for number plates in the UK.

Current Legal Plate Format

The standard format for UK number plates consists of:

  • Area Identifier: 2 letters

  • Age Identifier: 2 numbers

  • Random Letters: 3 letters following a 33mm gap

For example, a typical number plate might read: AB12 CDE.

Font and Dimensions

  • Font Style: Digits must be in the BSAU 145e font style, which is a "fixed width" font.

  • Dimensions: Each digit should be 79mm tall and 50mm wide, with an 11mm gap between them.

Optional Features

  • Border: You can add a printed border up to 5mm wide in any single colour. The border must be permanent (colour-fast) and must not touch the flag or identifier. It should comply with BSAU 145e requirements.

  • Identifier: Any flag or identifier must be an integral part of the reflective material. Refer to the ‘Authorised Flags & Identifiers’ document for more details: HERE

Trade Name Requirements

The trade name, representing the DVLA-registered manufacturer, should:

  • Be between 3mm and 10mm tall.

  • Be clear, legible, and printed within a 178mm x 10mm centralised zone.

  • Be in a single colour, matching the British Standard colour.

Reflective Materials

The reflective material used for the number plate must meet all the retro-reflective markings and optical requirements of BSAU 145e. This includes standards for:

  • Colour: Must be clear and conform to regulations.

  • Reflectivity: Must be adequate to ensure visibility.

  • Longevity: Must maintain its properties over time.

British Standard

The current British Standard manufacturers’ mark, located on the bottom right side of the plate, signifies that the number plate meets all the requirements of the British Standard. This includes:

  • Impact Strength: The plate must be able to withstand impacts.

  • Clarity: The digits and background must be clear.

  • Lamination: The layers of the plate must be securely bonded.

  • Bending: The plate must be resistant to bending and maintain its form.


At Sandhurst Autoprint, we ensure that all our number plates comply with the strict regulations outlined by the DVLA and BSAU 145e. Whether you’re updating your current plates or looking for a new design, rest assured that our products meet all legal requirements for safety, durability, and visibility.

For more detailed information about BSAU 145e regulations, please visit the DVLA website.

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