What is the right spacing for a personalised number plate?
We are regularly asked about number plate spacing. It's assumed that this doesn't matter on a personalised registration number. Not true.
Whether you have personalised number plates or a standard ones, the same rules apply for the size of the letters and the spaces between them. Even the fonts for registration numbers are tightly controlled. And the official font for UK number plates is called Charles Wright.
What are the official DVLA rules on spacing?
UK number plates (whether personalised or otherwise) have two "groups" of letters / numbers. For most number plates spacing between the two groups should be 33mm whilst the spacing between each of the letters is 11mm. If you change this, your number plate no longer meets the law. And you can't move a letter or number from across one group to another either!
The number plate rules are ever-so-slightly different if your vehicle is older than 2001 or if you have a motorbike.
Can I change the spacing on my number plate?
In a word, no.
We've all seen letters squashed together or spaced wide apart on number plates... usually personalised ones where the owner has tried to make a word or name, but be aware that this is not legal practice. Spacing is specified to the millimetre and any reputable number plate manufacturer will not change it for you. The rules are the same, whether your number plate is personalised or a standard one.
You should only buy your number plates from companies registered with the DVLA. If you're unsure, look at their Register of Number Plate Suppliers (RNPS) to check before you buy.
What happens if I change the spacing?
No matter how much you want your number plate to spell out a certain word or look a certain way, messing around with the spacing on a number plate could land you in some hot water. If you're stopped by the police, you could get a hefty £60 on-the-spot fine - no questions asked! The same punishment applies if you decide to keep the spacing the same but distort the letters to look like a number, and vice versa.
But lots of companies let me design my own personalised number plate?
Yes. You'll find many number plate companies online who will let you play around with the spacing and make up the plates for you. These are often referred to as "show plates". This means they are NOT legal for use on the road. The term "show plates" comes from having special plates made up just for use at car shows etc.
We wrote recently about one number plate company that was prosecuted by the DVLA for selling illegal number plates, and being fined over half million pounds! Just remember that it doesn't matter whether you knew if your number plate was legal or not, it's still you who will be stopped by the police and fined. So make sure you always buy from a reputable manufacturer.
Where can I find more on number plate law?
We'd advise you not to mess around with the spacing on your personalised number plates!