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Home » Avoid Fines: Steps to Ensure Your 4D Number Plate Meets Legal Standards

Avoid Fines: Steps to Ensure Your 4D Number Plate Meets Legal Standards

Vehicle owners seeking a unique and sophisticated look have been opting for 4D number plates in recent years. Laser-cut acrylic characters give these number plates a three-dimensional look unsurpassed by 2D plates. As with any vehicle modification, legality is paramount. This detailed resource was created to help you understand 4D number plate laws.

Knowing 4D Number Plates

Before discussing legal requirements, you must comprehend 4D number plates. Digits and letters are lifted above the base plate, giving these plates a more three-dimensional appearance than 2D plates. This striking design makes them popular with car aficionados.

Controlling Rules

The UK Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) regulates number plates, including 4D types. The rules emphasise readability, visibility, and character display. Your vehicle may be judged unsuitable for the road if you violate these guidelines.

Key 4D Number Plate Legal Requirements

For road legality, a 4D plate must meet certain requirements:

Character Sizes:

Each character must be 79 mm tall.

Character width: All characters except ‘1’ and ‘I’ should be 50 mm wide.

Stroke Width: 14 mm character thickness.

The gap between characters must be 11 mm.

Minimum 11 mm margin from plate top, bottom, and sides.

Vertical spacing: 33 mm between character groupings.

Materials and Construction:

Reflective number plates are required.

Characters must be black and non-reflective.

Nobody should apply background patterns to plates.

BS AU 145e standard:

In September 2021, all number plates must meet BS AU 145e. This standard makes plates robust and weatherproof without affecting legibility or reflectivity.

Font :

All number plates must use the Charles Wright font, which is easy to see and meets road safety criteria.


Black characters on white must be on the front plate.

Black characters on yellow must be on the back plate.

Identifier legal

The British Standard mark and manufacturer’s name or brand must be on plates.

Patternless Background:

Backgrounds should be homogeneous in colour without patterns, motifs, or tints that degrade reading.

Plate placement:

Plates must be vertical or nearly vertical and visible from the front and back of the vehicle.

Extra Considerations

The above criteria address the main legal requirements, although there are others:

MOT test:

Keep your number plates clean and legible. Damaged or unclean plates can fail a MOT.

Application of 4D Characters:

Check the 4D characters’ stability. If loose characters break off, the plate becomes unreadable and non-compliant.

Space and Align:

Avoid non-standard spacing or misalignment, which makes plates hard to read and illegal.

Frames and accessories:

Avoid obscuring the plate with number plate frames or covers.

Practical Compliance Steps

Buy from Reputable Suppliers:

Buy 4D number plates from DVLA-compliant providers. Reliable dealers offer BS AU 145e plates.

Verify Certification:

Legitimate number plate suppliers usually provide compliance certification. You can use this to prove your plates are lawful.

Regular upkeep:

Check for wear and tear that could compromise reading and clean your plates.

Stay Aware:

Keep up with number plate law updates to be compliant.

Installed professionally:

Get your plates professionally installed to ensure proper installation. This prevents misalignment and character looseness.

Common Misconceptions

Common myths and misconceptions may mislead vehicle owners as 4D plates become increasingly popular:

Myth: All 3D/4D plates are prohibited.

Fact: Not all 3D and 4D plates are road legal, but those that meet the regulations are. You must ensure your plates meet DVLA standards.

Myth: Customised plates with fonts and styles are always approved.

Fact: Font, size, spacing, and substance must be legal regardless of personalisation. Non-standard fonts and styles are prohibited.

Myth: Reflective backdrops improve plate readability.

Fact: Characters must be black and non-reflective, however the background must be reflecting. Reflective characters are prohibited and hard to read.

Enforcement and Penalties

Road legal number plate violations can result in many penalties:

Instant Fines:

Number plates that violate restrictions can be fined on the spot by police.

MOT Failed:

An MOT failure due to non-compliant number plates prevents driving until the issue is remedied.

Vehicle seizure:

Enforcement agencies can seize vehicles whose number plates prevent vehicle identification.

Licence points:

Continuous violations can result in penalty points on your licence, affecting your driving record and insurance rates.


In conclusion, DVLA character dimensions, material, reflectivity, font, and design must be met for 4D number plates to be road legal. By buying from reliable sources, checking compliance certification, maintaining your plates, and remaining informed about legal updates, you can enjoy 4D number plates’ visual and unique appeal without legal issues.

Personalisation can make your car stand out, but road safety and legality come first. Following the recommendations guarantees that your car stands out for the appropriate reasons, giving you flair and peace of mind while driving. Following these requirements keeps you legal and maintains your number plates functional and readable, improving traffic safety.

Vehicle owners must balance aesthetics and regulatory compliance as 4D number plates become more common. By following the instructions and remaining informed, you may proudly display your personalised plates, knowing they meet legal criteria and improve driving.