Your Guide to Personalizing Your Vehicle’s DVLA Plates – Legally!

The popularity of personalized or custom-printed DVLA plates in the United Kingdom has soared in the last few years. With many people looking for fun and interesting ways to express themselves in an economy that makes other forms of expression more expensive, these plates are one affordable and convenient way to make your vehicle feel more personal.

Getting customized DVLA plates for your car is perfectly legal. It is important to note that there are several important rules and regulations that must be followed for these or any other vehicle plates, though. Failure to adhere to these rules would mean your plates would be illegal and can result in fines and other penalties.

Not sure what the rules are for customizing your DVLA plates? Here is everything the government insists on – as well as what to do once you decide to personalize your plates!

Format and Structure

DVLA plates in the United Kingdom follow a specific structure and format. This makes creating and assigning government-issued plates easier. It also makes it easier to spot plates that are not in compliance with the law.

To ensure your plates are within these guidelines, they must have:

  • 2 letters, 2 numbers, a space, and 3 more letters (Example: AB12 CDE)


  • 3 letters, a space, up to 3 numbers, and a single additional letter (Example: ABC 123D)

Some plates do not contain any year identifiers, although most modern, government-issued plates do. Every plate must have at least one letter and one number, even if they fall outside these other guidelines.

Prohibited Combinations

Every DVLA plate combination is reviewed before being approved. If a sequence of letters or numbers is deemed to be vulgar, in poor taste, or otherwise offensive, it will not be approved. This might be because it spells out or implies something offensive, or because the number or letter sequence itself is in poor taste. Likewise, anything that signifies a false connection to royalty, government affiliation, or a connection to emergency services will not be approved or permitted.

Age Identifier

UK law uses age identifiers to signify the age of a car with a glance. This may not always be present in a customized or “vanity” plate, but it is not legal to use inaccurate age identifiers. This means you cannot indicate that a car is newer or older than it is.

Font and Spacing

A standard font, size, and spacing of lettering is used on all DVLA plates in the United Kingdom, both government-issued and customized. Any deviation from this lettering style is considered outside the legally prescribed rules for vehicle plates and will result in penalties for the driver.

Visibility and Condition

Any vehicle plate used on a car that is still in use must be highly visible and in good condition. This means it should be free from anything that obstructs a clear view of the plate, as well as any damage that could do the same. Damage or obstructions can result in fines or other penalties, as they make identifying a vehicle more difficult for other drivers and law enforcement.

Why Might You Want Personalized DVLA Plates?

Now that you know the rules you need to follow to have a personalized DVLA plate – why would you want one? While there is no need to get one – the government will issue every vehicle a plate – there are plenty of reasons you might choose to.

Some of these include:

  • Personal expression. Everyone dreams of customizing their vehicle into something that is uniquely theirs. While not everyone can afford a customized exterior or even a new paint job for their car, many people can budget for the cost of a personalized plate. This gives them a way to express their personal style or share a message with every person who sees their vehicle.
  • Promoting a business. Speaking of sharing a message, investing in a specialized plate can be an investment in your business. Just think of how interesting a customized plate will be to passing motorists – and how much it will get them talking about your business!
  • Easy to remember. A personalized plate is often much easier to remember than a randomly issued one. Whether it is because the letters and numbers are special to you or because they are unlike most government-issued plates, these unique items make it easy to remember which plates are yours or your friends. (Or those issued to a business vehicle that your entire team should remember by heart!)
  • Status symbol. In many social circles, a personalized plate is a status symbol. This is not necessarily because of the cost of the plate as much as it is a mark of someone who takes their vehicle and themselves seriously. Very specific or hard-to-acquire combinations can be much more expensive, though, so if you are looking for a way to display your wealth and status, those combinations are always an option!
  • Whether you are paying homage to a special date or remembering a loved one, there are many ways to commemorate special dates or names with vanity DVLA plates. These make great memorial items and will let you feel like you are bringing that special memory with you everywhere you drive.

Getting a valid, customized DVLA plate is not difficult, nor is it expensive for many combinations of letters and numbers. Talk to your plate retailer today to see just how fast and easy it can be to give your vehicle the personalized style you are looking for – legally!

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