Equipment Motorcycles

What Are The Rules Surrounding Number Plates On Motorbikes?

As a road-legal vehicle in the UK, motorbikes also have to display an appropriate registration plate but the rules surrounding this do differ in some respects from those applicable to motor cars. Here are the key points brought to you by
  • Motorcycles registered on or after September 1st 2001 must display a plate on the rear of the bike
  • Bikes registered before this date can opt to display one on the front but it is not compulsory. No more wheelies then to avoid your front plate being detected by a speed camera – an old trick!
  • Motorcycle number plates should be presented on two lines so in a square effectively
  • The rear plate must be reflective and as with a car, display black lettering on a yellow background
  • If you are able to opt for a front plate and choose to do so then this must have black lettering on a white background
  • The designated font is called ‘Charles Wright’
  • Rules concerning sizing don’t specifically refer to a permitted size of the plate but to the lettering within it. Characters must be 64mm tall and 44mm wide. The space between letters is prescribed at 10mm, the space between the age identifier and the random letters at the end must be 30mm. The vertical space between the age identifier and the random numbers is set at 13mm. The gap between the characters and the edge of the plate is 11mm
  • You can display a flag on the number plate – your choice, England, Scotland, Wales or the Union flag, this must be placed on the left-hand side of the number plate
  • You can have letters or, as they are termed, national identifiers e.g. GB, UK, Cymru etc. The flag must be positioned above the identifier and neither can be more than 50mm wide
  • You can opt to display the EU symbol, it must have a reflective blue background with 12 reflecting yellow stars at the top displaying GB in white or yellow. Watch this space after Brexit if it ever happens
  • Other than the flags and national identifiers, no other images are permitted on number plates
  • Fixing bolts must be so placed that the actual lettering does not appear altered by them
  • Small number plates on bikes so a single row of letters and numbers are illegal.
  • Smaller number plates make the rear bike tyre appear bigger giving an impression of greater capacity hence their desirability
  • If your bike was registered before September 2001, you are allowed to display a three-row plate
  • The number plate must be lit during failing light into darkness
  • If the bike is forty plus years old so a vintage machine, you can use traditional black and white plates so white or silver/grey lettering on a black background

All the relevant regulations are contained in The Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations dated 2001. A reputable motorcycle plate producer will be aware of the DVLA requirements for bike plates. They are almost identical to the plate regulations on cars other than the actual dimensions of the plate itself which clearly has to be of a different size and shape for a motorbike.