Can I display a black & silver number plate?

The historic black & silver number plate has been around since 1903

The black & silver number plate was issued in the UK following the Motor Car Act 1903, this ensured all vehicles could be legally recognised in the event of a road traffic collision or potentially recovered if stolen.

Today these original plates are an emblem of genuine classic cars still being driven today. Although the modern white/yellow reflective plate was available since 1968 as an option on new cars, many continued to carry the black & silver number plate into the early seventies.

What is legal and illegal in the UK for number plates?

When it comes to the legalities of these old style plates, officially from April 2015 vehicles registered before the 1st of January 1975 can legally display a black & silver number plate providing they are registered with the Historic Vehicles taxation class. This is not to be confused with the rolling 40-year tax exemption. The important difference between these two pieces of legislation is that the tax exemption rolls year on year while vehicles that can display black and silver number plates is fixed at classics registered before 1975.


Below is a list of points that are illegal when it comes to your registration plates:

  • Decorative typeface (no italic lettering or hard to read font style)
  • No altering characters (such a screws used to change a 0 to an 8)
  • No using non-authorised symbols (such as sporting or religious emblems)
  • Not supplying the British Standard symbol
  • No altering configuration (putting gaps to separate characters)

The modern number plate has to be clear and reflective displaying black characters in a standard size on a white background for the front and a yellow background for the rear. If your vehicle does not display legal number plates you could be fined up to £1,000 and your car will automatically fail an MOT.

Insure Your Classic Car With Heritage

Get the best rates on classic car insurance today with Heritage Car Insurance and get a personalised quote. Alternatively, if you have any further questions about Black & Silver Number Plates, please – call us on: 0121 248 9229.

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