Small number plates: legal or illegal? This is a common question people ask. Short number plates on your car are fashionable and a small sized number plate on a motorbike enhances the look and visual size of the rear tire. Are you thinking about one of these options?

Dealing with the law:

According to Government regulations a single row plate is illegal on a motorcycle. The characters presented on the number plate should be set out over two lines. Number plates have to be displayed on every motorcycle that is registered on or after 1st January 1973.

If the motorbike was registered prior to 1st September 2001, you can in fact display a three-row registration plate. However, there is a strict two-row plate specification for the majority of bikes. For bikes registered after 2001’s 1st September, the number plate becomes obligatory to be displayed on the bike’s rear, in combination with no number plate on the front, as front plates are considered potentially hazardous to pedestrians.

Bikes registered before that date can display a front plate. Trikes also have to comply with the rules for motorcycles. There are three era/time periods where number plate fonts have a unique set of characters with sizes.

The font specification is not applied only to motorbikes that are registered after a specific date but to all the replacement number plates that are manufactured and fitted to the motorcycle. Trikes, quad bikes, etc. also fall under these requirements.

The features:

  • The characters should be at least 79 mm tall.
  • The space between the characters should be 11 mm.
  • The characters excluding letter I or number 1 should be 50 mm wide.
  • The space between the random letters and the age identifier should be at least 33 mm.
  • The thickness of the black print or the character stroke should be 14 mm.
  • The margins (top, side, and bottom) of the number plate should be 11 mm.
  • The vertical space located between the age identifier and the random numbers should be 19 mm.
  • Trikes that are made from the base of the motorcycle have certain rules:
  • The characters should be 79 mm tall.
  • The black print’s thickness or the character stroke must be of 14 mm.
  • The space situated between the characters are supposed to be 11 mm.
  • The characters excluding letter I or number 1 should be 57 mm wide.
  • The vertical space lying between the age identifier and the random numbers should be 19 mm.
  • The space situated between the age identifier and the letters is required to be 33 mm.
  • The margins around the plate should be 11 mm.

There are specific rules relating to the use of a black or yellow plate. Vehicles that are manufactured before 1st January 1973 are permitted to display a traditional black back-ground in combination with white or silver characters on the number plate.

From April 2016, vehicles built before the 1st January 1976 can display the older style black background number plates. It is also worth knowing that vehicles that are more than 40 years of age become exempt from road tax. You will need to apply to the DVLA and get the vehicle registered within the tax class of historic vehicles. This 40-year tax exemption date automatically rolls forward on the 1st of April every year.

Other rules attached to the number plates of motorbikes:

  • The number plate must be illuminated when it is dark.
  • The registration marks must be clearly readable. They should not be concealed by dirt.
  • The number plate has to be of an appropriate colour, size, spacing, and font.
  • Only legally compliant images can be displayed on number plates.
  • Number plates on vehicles are mandatory in the UK.
  • Vehicle owners are not allowed to rearrange or make any alteration to the letters or numbers on the number plates.
  • A non-reflective border is optional.
  • A number plate must follow the British Standard BSAU145d and It must display the plate supplier’s name and post code.

You can check online and contact a number plate dealer to generate a unique and legal number plate for your motorbike. The registration broker will try to meet your requirements in building a registration that can adapt to the size of number plate you require. The shorter the registration, the smaller the number plate can be, within the legal regulations.

If you have any further questions, you can ask for advice from the dealer’s representative.

Check out the number plate gallery.

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