Various types of number plates are on display on UK roads every day. In most cases, cars sport white and yellow plates with black alphanumeric characters on them while old model cars are allowed to use the silver and black number plates. The same goes for motorcyclists who can display back and front number plates but often only a single plate at the rear.

So, where does the law stand on front plates because it can be quite confusing for road users that care about the law. Incorrect display of number plates attracts fine as that means you have failed the MOT tests and you can be stopped by traffic police. Also, re-arranging or having invisible letters are not allowed.

No front number plates

It is against the law in the UK for vehicles to only display back number plates. Thus, it is compulsory for all cars plying the UK roads to have both the front and rear number plates. At the front, the index marks on the number plates have to be visible by using the white colour. In the rear, the plates must be yellow with alphanumeric numbers written in black. Both plates must be made of reflective materials; this is to increase visibility in low light situations like night time. This is important for road navigation as it becomes easier for other road users to differentiate between the front and back of an approaching vehicle especially when the vehicle doesn’t have a light.

Is stick on front number plates legal?

Not so long ago, popular models like the E-type Jaguar used stick on number plates. It is not in vogue anymore because it doesn’t meet the British Safety standard BS AU 145D. They cannot be used on cars because of this reason and it is best to avoid them totally although they can still be found on caravans and trailers.

British Safety Standards stipulates that materials used for number plates must be resistant to deformity and must do well to resist impact from external agents. Sticks are not as durable on modern number plates as required which is why it is hard to find them on number plates nowadays. Rather you will find sturdy acrylic being utilized. Plates are often subjected to tests and those that pass these tests can display BS AU 145D. It becomes legal for usage.

Furthermore, it must have a solid background colour and a number plate that has a background image is illegal as it has already failed the British Safety Standard test. Purchase your number plates from respected and reputable vendors to avoid this kind of frustration. Your peace of mind is important and you will spend more if you fail to do the necessary before buying a number plate.


Why don’t motorcycles and tricycles have front number plates?

As noted earlier, older models of a motorcycle can still sport a front plate, but those registered after September 1st, 2001 cannot. A review on the use of front number plates on motorcycles and tricycles was done after 1975 and before then motorcycles needed to display front number plates which are often attached to the top of the mudguard. Evolution in modern motorbikes and tricycles has brought about the decision to offer more space for number plates at the back than at the front so that they can be boldly displayed at one part for all to see. Before, when front number plates were used, they were positioned on the mudguards of bikes and visibility was obstructed.

Towing a trailer

If you are towing a trailer, you need to display the same number plate as the vehicle you’re towing it with and if it is more than one trailer, it can be displayed at the back.

Why must the front plate be white?

In the UK, front and back number plates are of different colours because of certain reasons. At a glance, you will be able to decide which way a vehicle faces when it is approaching or it passes you. This is a safety implication that is important as it can help avoid an accident. It also offers a clear background colour for characters to stand out properly.

Also, when at the back of another car in motion, a rear yellow number plate does not cause glare which is why you can’t use white colour on a rear number plate in the UK. It also boils down to safety.