Import Number Plates

Import Cars - Know the score with the plates! Skyline

 

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.  

DVLA do 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. 

Nissan Skyline
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 looks poor!!

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. Standard UK car size plateThis 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 self-adhesive one to stick directly onto the GTSbonnet/paintwork 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 out our
plate sizes page  for 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 purchase...sorry!!
 
CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR IMPORT PLATE