Can I display a black & silver number plate?

The historic black and silver number plate has been around since 1903, and was issued in the UK following the Motor Car Act 1903 as a means to ensure all vehicles could be legally recognised in the event of a road traffic collision, or could be recovered if stolen.

Although the modern white/yellow reflective plates have been available since 1968 on new cars, many continued to carry the traditional black and silver number plate into the early seventies. Today these traditional style plates are often sought after by classic owners seeking to augment or reinforce the classic look of their vehicle.

Who can display a black and silver number plate?

Vehicles made before January 1973 are allowed to display a traditional number plate, i.e. with white, silver or grey characters on a black plate. From April 2019, vehicles registered before the 1st of January 1979 can legally display a black and silver number plate providing they have applied to the DVLA and are registered with the ‘historic vehicles’ tax class.

This is not to be confused with the 40-year tax exemption which rolls forward year on year on 1st April, while vehicles that can display black and silver number plates is fixed at classics registered before 1979. 

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

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)

What happens if I display a number plate incorrectly?

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.

How do I get a black and silver number plate?

If you’re eligible to display a black and silver number plate, you can only get them made up from a registered supplier. The website has a useful resource to help you locate your nearest number plate supplier.

This article was last updated on 3rd October 2019. A link to the DVLA guidelines on registration numbers and number plates can be found here

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