3D/4D plates laws: September 2021 changes

3 Mins read

So we’ve all seen the video of the police officer talking about the 3D/4D plates laws in 2021 and the blog article written by a certain car page.

We get sent these daily and understand your concern about the legalities in regard to your plates and the future of the custom plate industry.

Future of 3D/4D Plates: New Law 2021

If you’re considering 3D vs 4D number plates, the most important thing to consider is whether they’re legal.

From September 1, 2021, the regulations for displaying number plates will alter, making things a little more complex. To assist you to understand how it all works, we’ll explain the current rules regarding number plates and what’s changing.

Will 3D and 4D Plates Still Be Legal?

The simple answer is YES. You may relax. Characters on a number plate can now be 3D, if:

  • The material of the number plate is reflective.
  • There’s no design behind the scenes.
  • The letters on the front plate are black or white.
  • On a yellow background, the text on the back is black.

The width and height of license plate characters must be precise.

  • A minimum height of 79mm is required for each character.
  • Except for the number 1 or letter I, they must be 55mm wide.
  • These black characters must have strokes that are 14 millimetres thick.
  • The spaces between them must be at least 11mm.

However, from September 1, 2021, there will be several distinctions between what is or isn’t permitted based on physical plate codes.

How Number Plate Codes Affect Number Plate Rules

On a number plate, the BSAU code shows what standard the plate has been made to.

  • BSAU 145d codes apply to plates manufactured BEFORE 1 September 2021
  • BSAU 145e codes apply to plates manufactured AFTER 1 September 2021.

The old rules will continue to apply to BSAU 145d coded plates, BUT new rules will apply to BSAU 145e coded plates.

As a result, by September 2021, you’ll need to verify your number plate code to ensure that your number plate design is still legal. This also applies to 3D and 4D plates.

If your number plates were road legal when you bought them, they will continue to be valid if 

they bear the BSAU 145d code on the plate itself. If you have a number plate made AFTER 1 September 2021, it will show the BS145e code and must follow new DVLA requirements.

What are the New DVLA Number Plate Rules?

The revised standards from September 2021 are based on BSI technical specifications for number plates.

The new standards will make number plates more difficult to read by ANPR cameras. These are the cameras that detect driving infractions. If you’ve been issued a penalty or fined, you’re already familiar with your 3D plates being readable in this way.

What are the consequences of 3D and 4D plates? The letters and numerals must all be the same shade of black. As a result, two-tone number plates are not permitted. however, this restriction does not prevent you from obtaining 3D or 4D plates.

The polyurethane gel is applied to the sheet-cut characters after they have been coated in two colours. This lifts them off the number plate surface.

The same basic idea of elevated figures applies to four-dimensional number plates, with the exception that they are frequently produced by laser cutting acrylic letters and numbers. 3D becomes illegal if it isn’t genuinely three-dimensional; rather, it’s a plain, two-dimensional font printed in colour with the intention of making it appear distinct from the plate surface.

How Will I Know if My Number Plate is Legal?

It is legal to drive with a number plate displaying a BSAU 145d production code if it was produced after January 1, 2004.

This is only permitted if it follows current DVLA regulations. From September 2021, if you replace your number plate, you must use the new standards and there should be just one hue of black for the letters and numbers. Because it will have the BSAU 145e code, you’ll be able to tell if it’s a new plate. Your 3D or 4D license plate will last indefinitely as long as you have the correct number plate code.