When we talk about short number plates, we mean the physical dimensions of the plate itself.

Number plates haven’t always been the length they are now. Very early registrations only featured two numbers and you can still buy older registrations with fewer characters.

If you do buy one of these private registrations, chances are it might look a little peculiar on a standard-sized number plate.

In which case, you might consider having a shorter plate. But is it legal to do this?

What is a Short Number Plate?

A short number plate is really a shortened number plate. Basically, it’s shorter than a standard size number plate.

A standard size number plate in the UK is 520mm long by 111mm tall. Rear plates can either be the same size, be smaller at 285mm x 203mm, or slightly bigger at 533mm x 285mm.

If you look at our number plate builder, you can see we offer a range of shorter plates. Some of these are better suited to 7-digit registrations, some to 6-digit registrations.

The physical dimensions of the number plate are not the issue. If you want to be sure your number plate is road legal, then the size and spacing of its characters must conform to DVLA rules.

When Would You Choose a Short Number Plate?

Personalised vehicle registrations come in different formats, depending on the age of the original registration.

Some older registrations are shorter than modern registrations. For example, pre-1963 plates, known as dateless, have one or more numerals followed by letters.

The fewer characters on the plate, the more distinctive it tends to look. But this raises the issue of whether you need a full-size number plate to display your registration.

It may look more effective on a shorter number plate. Also, having non-standard physical number plate dimensions adds to the individuality of your private registration.

What Does the DVLA Say About Number Plates?

The DVLA has basic rules about number plates, one of which is that they must current British Standards.

These rules cover the dimensions of characters displayed on plates. They vary slightly depending on whether your number plate has been fitted before or after 1 September 2001.

Either way, your number plate must follow certain rules regarding character weight and height, spacing between characters and the top and side margins on the plate.

You must follow these rules when you get a number plate for your vehicle. They apply to 3D and 4D number plates too.

As long as you follow these rules, you can have a short number plate. It will be legal to display when you’re driving on the road.


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