Import Number Plates
Import Cars - Know the score with the plates!
Why is it that so
little is known about this type of plate? Even the average boys in
blue, are unsure of what constitutes a legal plate, with many of you
guys complaining you have been stopped and fined for displaying smaller
plates; your argument that your vehicle is an Import falling on deaf
ears. You only have to log on to the major import forums to find
thread after thread of this very such thing happening.
If you go onto the DVLA website you will find nothing about the display of your plates. VOSA are a little more helpful, but you have to find the MOT testers manual and find section 6.3 for that!
The Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2002
is the statutory instrument you need. It is a piece of legislation
that sets out the requirements for a road legal import plate and I
suggest you all have a copy in your glove box. It is here that you
find out your imported vehicle can ONLY display the smaller font if it
satisfies two criteria:
(1) does not have European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval and
(2) is so constructed that the area available for the fixing of the
registration plate precludes the display on the plate of a registration
mark in conformity with the requirements of regulation 14 (see the 2001 document).
Is it any wonder the
police don’t know what vehicles can and cannot have smaller plates
when this is so vague. What constitutes a functional reason?
Obviously if you have no area to fix a plate on the front that’s a
pretty good reason, but what about obstruction of the air intake grill?
Or a modded car with a front mounted intercooler which you have added
to the vehicle but was not standard on it at point of origin?
Sadly we can’t stop you being unfairly pulled but we can advise you on
the best way to get the smallest legal plate. It seems VOSA are
clamping down on the MOT checks this year and now you not only must
have your kite mark in the corner but also identification of the
company that manufactures the plate AND the name and postcode of the
supplying outlet. We print this as small as we can at the bottom of
your plate. Sadly this still isn't enough to stop all roadside tussels
with the boys in blue. To be fair, they have to learn ALL the Traffic
laws whereas we make plates for a living, so we can know this little
bit inside out.
not specify the size of plate your vehicle must display but do specify
the font you must use, the height of this font, minimum margin size,
gap between lines (if a two line plate) etc. If you qualify as an
Imported vehicle and can satisfy the above criteria then you can
legally display a plate with bike size font (64mm) rather than the
standard UK car size font (79mm). In the 2002 instrument you will see
that there must be a gap of 5mm between lines on a two line plate, you
must have at least 5mm as a margin top and both sides. There must also
be a bottom margin of at least 13mm and the legal endorsement must be
at least 5mm away from the bottom of your registration.
Rear plates on Import Cars tend to always be ‘square’ shaped. USA
import plates are 12” x 6”, 99% of the time and these plates can be one
line registrations if you have a short registration number but are
normally split over two lines. Badges fit easily on this shape plate
and run from top to bottom. But a 6” high plate doesn’t leave much
room for borders. Please note if you have a plate frame which obscures
part of the plate you are best to send the frame into us, or a template
of your frame as there is a huge possibility that your registration
will be cut off top and bottom!! There is nothing worse than seeing a
beautiful Chevrolet, complete with an expensive metal frame driving
around with the registration cut off at the top and bottom - guys it
An alternative to this is to have a genuine Die Pressed Ali plate with American font all in one line. Why not visit our
American Number Plate
site for more information. These are strictly show use only as they are pressed with the US Connecticut font.
Japanese import rears are in the main 13” wide but the height varies –
6”, 6½“, 6¾“, 7” and 8”. You can choose whatever height you like based
on what will look best on your vehicle depending on whether you have a
plate mount that your plate has to fit into or have a body kit that
reduces plate space!
Front plates are the ones though that seem to be causing all the trouble.
is a standard UK car size front number plate….it is MASSIVE. How on
earth can you fit that on your fibre-glass nose cone? OK it won’t hang
down like a square but it looks ridiculous!! Sadly looks do not count
as a good enough reason to use an import size plate, you have to have a
valid functional reason for displaying a smaller size plate too.
A lot of you guys
opt for a 12” x 3” plate as it is small and will fit but it's
non-compliant as you just cannot get your registration on it at road
legal import height, thus you run the risk of getting pulled by the
police, a £60 fine and failing your MOT.
Others opt for the standard UK car size plate but as a
one to stick directly onto the
etc but did you know this type of plate is non-compliant too no matter
how it is made (even road legal UK height font of 79mm). DVLA banned
them all!! We’ve written this page because we want to inform import
owners that there is another choice. If you have a good functional
reason to display a smaller plate and do not want a square plate on the
front making your car look like a snowplough and your engine
overheating because it restricts air flow why not purchase a road legal
oblong that is sized according to your registration. We highly
recommend you go down the road legal route and provide your documents
etc so you get the endorsement at the bottom of your plate!
Choosing the right
size plate can be a bit confusing as it depends on how many characters
you have in your registration and if you have any 1’s (they need less
width than any other character). So below is a rough guideline to help
you choose plate size – all these sizes assume plain legal font is
being printed onto the plate in a road legal format (with central
space) and is the minimum size required.
No badges or 1's in the registration:
7 character registration = 410mm
(have a 1 or I? = 380mm)
6 character registration = 350mm
(have a 1 or I? = 330mm)
5 character registration = 300mm
(have a 1 or I? = 280mm)
The minimum height you should have for these plates is 90mm. Sadly
it’s not possible for us to keep all combinations on the shelf so check
plate sizes page
the range we currently stock. If you do not see the plate size you
want, we would have to have it specially cut for you that’s all – just
give Karen a call on 0871 288 4 288 to discuss if it falls within the
standard import size for the number characters we will not charge you
our cut fee. If the plate size is unique I'm afraid we will have to
charge you this fee as we will only be ordering one plate (which incurs
a premium from our acrylic suppliers), rather than a bulk