DVLA Number Plates & Registrations

About the DVLA Agency

Car registrations in the UK are issued and regulated by a government body known as the DVLA, or Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. The DVLA was previously known as the DVLC, but since 1990 has operated only as DVLA.

The DVLA maintains a huge database in which are stored details of all of licensed drivers in Britain, and of all registered vehicles. The DVLA also operates the system that issues motor vehicle registrations, and formulates and enforces regulations for standard and personalised number plates. The Agency's counterpart in Northern Ireland which performs similar duties is Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland (DVLNI).

The DVLA is based in Swansea, but has local offices throughout the UK.

The format for number plates to be used on UK roads is very clearly defined, and Numberplates.com strongly recommends that all members ensure that they only fit compliant plates to their vehicles. There are penalties for displaying plates that fail to meet regulation spec. These penalties can include fines, MOT failure and loss of entitlement to display the registration.

DVLANumber plates must be displayed in accordance with The Road Vehicles Regulations 2001. They must also conform to the British Standard. Front plates must be white with black characters in the prescribed mandatory font, and rear DVLA plates must be yellow with black characters in the prescribed font. Alternative lettering styles are not permitted and the only approved variant is a specific '3D' version of the standard typeface. The dimensions for spacing between characters and groups of characters is also specified, and variation is not permitted. The space between characters must be 11mm and between groups of characters it must be 33mm.

Plates must bear the identifying mark of the manufacturer or supplier and the British Standard number. The only markings permitted on UK DVLA number plates, apart from this required information and the registration characters described above, are a non-reflective border, the Euro symbol, an approved national flag and the appropriate national identification letters to accompany the flag.

The sale of car number plates is strictly controlled, and the DVLA insist that all suppliers see documents in order to establish ownership of a registration mark before the plates for that mark are supplied.


Cheap and cheerful

Aston with private number platesMany people who buy personalised number plates will go for a flashy cherished registration, but a perfectly viable alternative are standard issue DVLA registrations.

The most popular use of DVLA number plates is to display a person's name or initials. If your name was John Michael Smith, for example, you may opt for M1 JMS or J20 JMS as your personal DVLA number plate.

However, the fun doesn't stop at names and initials. Very often, DVLA number plates are used to convey jobs or hobbies. Take celebrity hairstylist Nicky Clarke, for example. His Range Rover proudly sports the registration number H41 RDO, conveying his job perfectly.

Ground Force's Tommy Walsh also found his ideal plate was a DVLA number - M12 DIY (Mr DIY) proudly adorns his Ground Force Mitsubishi truck. Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist 400m runner Iwan Thomas also found his ultimate registration number - R400 RUN.

Tommy Walsh and his dvla number platesIn fact, DVLA number plates can cost from just £189 and are quite often the most cost-effective way of displaying a personalised plate on your vehicle. The number plates are issued by DVLA and are often used to display initials, birthdays, and in some rare and lucky cases, words or names. For example, if your initials are ALC and your birthday is on June 9th, J9 ALC could be the perfect number plate for you. Similarly, a JTH born on December 12th could drive around with D12 JTH on their car for just a few hundred pounds. The possibilities really are endless.

Many people opt for DVLA registrations as they quite often don't immediately stand out as a flash personalised plate. In fact, they tend to be slightly more understated as they fall into the same uniform as a regular number plate. However, you as the owner will know the true meaning behind the plate, and this is the great appeal for many people.

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