Let's Talk Short plates...

Yes! Short number plates are 100% legal in the UK, providing that they follow BS AU 145d manufacturing standards. BS AU 145d specifies the font, font size and spacing of characters to create a standard number plate design.


The size of the number plate does not matter, so long as the correct font, font size and character spacing is used. This means you can drive on public roads with shortened number plates providing they meet BS AU 145d.

More about BS AU 145d

Something to keep in mind is that even if shortened number plates meet the design specifications set out in BS AU 145d, the number plates will be illegal if the plates do not show the correct markings at the bottom.

Number plates have to have the following text at the bottom:

  • BS AU number
  • Manufacturing information: Name, postcode and RNPS number.

Legal optional design elements

The following optional number plate elements are legal, providing that they do not modify the design specifications required under BS AU 145d:

  • Shortened plates
  • Borders
  • Advertising lips
  • National and regional flag identifiers

The following types of shorten plate are legal:

  • 3D plates
  • 4D plates
  • standard plates (metal or acrylic)

We specialise in the design and supply of 3D and 4D plates which we offer in a variety of different sizes. These sizes include:

  • 20.5” (standard)
  • 18” (short)
  • 16” (shorter)
  • 13” (shortest)

It’s important to note that the shortest plates are only compatible with personalised registration numbers.

Also, there are design requirements as specified by BS AU 145d that limit the amount we can legally shorten number plates.

For example, number plates must leave 33mm of space between the identifier and 11mm between each character. When you combine this with a minimum font size you can see why it is only possible to shorten number plates so much.

Will my car pass its MOT with short plates?

There have been cases where cars have failed their MOT because of short number plates but ONLY in cases where the plates did not meet BS AU 145d.

MOT rules state that plates that meet BS AU 145d are legal for road use. The length of the number plates has no bearing on this so long as everything else (the font, font size and spacing of the characters) checks out to be fine.

Show plates and designer plates

Although show plates / designer plates are illegal to use on public roads, they can be used on private land and in car shows. Show plates can be even shorter and use different fonts to legal number plates, which must comply with BS AU 145d.

We supply show plates without legal writing and can cut these to any size and use any font and font size. We can also use non-standard spacing and colours. This opens up a new world of design opportunities, but we must reiterate that show plates are ILLEGAL to use on public roads and do not bear our manufacturer’s mark.


You can use shortened number plates on public roads without breaking the law. They are 100% legal so long as they meet BS AU 145d.

However, because plate legality is dependent on the plates meeting this standard, you should only buy from a registered number plate supplier. Registered number plate suppliers have a unique RNPS number to identify them.