DVLA - Government information
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.
Number 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.