4d red topaz plate

3D plates have been in existence for many years and have been made in different varieties ranging from aluminium pressed plates, to raised riveted plates. These varieties were prominent before the 1980s and are no more in use. This is due to the introduction of the flat, plastic number plates that are in vogue today. Often, 3D plates have raised lettering on the flat printed surface with a contour effect to add to the finesse.

As time went by, another invention in the mode of 4D printed ensued. Plate suppliers have developed an upgrade to the 3D lettering system. 4D printed number plates have characters of different thicknesses attached to them. It’s simply a literal 3D number plate with elevated lettering similar to the raised riveted number plates present in the mid 20th century!

What is BS AU 145e?

BS AU 145e is a new British Standard set of rules stipulating the legal specification of British number plates. It replaced the previous BS AU 145d rules and will start to be applied from September 2021. Both 3D and 4D number plate manufacturers must meet the guidelines of these British Standard rules.

The rules pertain to the background of number plates which has to be flat as before and the non-removal of letters on the number plates. So, it depends on each manufacturer to decide what’s best for them.

Are 3D and 4D number plates getting banned?

The answer is not definite. It hasn’t been determined if they’ll be banned or not but there have been pointers fuelling the insinuation. For example, the BS AU 145e does not allow any other colour apart from black to be used and the use or carbon look. This questions the efficiency of raised lettering on flat surfaces that makes 3D number plates possible.

However, according to the RNPS newsletter that stirred the uproar, there has not been evidence to suggest the extinction of 3D and 4D number plates. They will continue to exist as long as they meet the requirements of either the current or new British Standard.

There were also rumours regarding visibility because the BSI are of the concern that the automatic number plate recognition cameras could find it difficult to detect characters on the 3D and 4D number plates. Many manufacturers feel it’s an unwarranted situation and an agenda pushed by some people.

The reality of the situation

As it stands, it’s a difficult situation to understand because of the telling effect it will have on number plate suppliers. They are trying to figure out what the situation is regarding the rules as their revenue will suffer a major blow if the supposed ban is upheld.

These suppliers have been canvassing to sway public opinion and the BNRA – British Number Plate Retailers Association has swung into action in this regard. Their view is that 3D and 4D plates will continue to exist even after September 2021. Of course, they are trying to look out for their businesses with the influence of social media.

All parties involved are therefore enjoined to be vigilant and wait for a definitive pronouncement from the DVLA because, at this point, they haven’t decided on the continued existence of 3D and 4D number plates. Until they do, information heard about the subject is just speculations.

A copy of the BS AU 145e standard which can be obtained from the BSI shop amongst other things is one of the resources that will effect the change in specifications. Remember that all registered number plate suppliers (RNPS) will receive a newsletter effecting and outlining the new regulations. The last update on the Government guidelines website, states that “Characters on a number plate can be 3D” subject to change later in the year.

The advice and observations in his write-up are subject to different interpretations as we are no legal experts, you will be held accountable by the authorities if you flout regulations in any way. Make sure you purchase your number plates from reputable vendors because many of them will not conform to legal standards and will break the law intentionally or unintentionally. Regardless, it will work to the disadvantage of the consumers. You will bear the consequences. So, find a way to buy legal number plates.

Remember that fine can go as high as £1000 for number plates that fail the MOT and they can even revoke your license plate if care is not taken.