6.3 Registration Plates and Vehicle Identification Number

Information Method of Inspection Reason for rejection
Registration Plates

This inspection only applies to rear registration plates

Unregistered motor bicycles
Unregistered motor bicycles need not be fitted with a registration plate.

Foreign, diplomatic and military vehicles
This inspection does not apply to foreign registered, diplomatic or military vehicles.

Motor bicycles manufactured before 1 January 1973 may have registration plates displaying white, grey or silver characters on a black background.

Vehicle Identification Number
A Vehicle Identification Number is required on all machines first used on or after 1 August 1999, except those which are amateur built.

If a VIN cannot be found the vehicle presenter should be advised of the likely location of the VIN and asked to thoroughly search for the number with the aid of the registration certificate. If following this action the VIN cannot be found the vehicle presenter should contact the nearest Vehicle Registration Office.

If more than one different VIN is found, the vehicle presenter should contact the nearest Vehicle
1. Check that there is a registration plate fitted at the rear of the motor bicycle or side car and check it for security and condition.

2. On machines first registered on or after 1 January 1973, check that the registration plate

a. has black characters on a yellow background

b. is mounted vertically, or as close to vertical as is reasonably practical

3. On machines first registered on or after 1 September 2001, check that the registration plate does not display a honeycomb or similar effect background.

4. Refer to pages 4 and 5 and check visually that the letters and figures are correctly formed, spaced, and are not obviously likely to be misread due to, for example, badly positioned or uncovered retaining bolts etc.

5. Check that the machine is permanently displaying a legible Vehicle Identification Number. This can be either

• on a plate secured to the frame of the machine, or
• stamped or etched on the frame of the machine
1. The registration plate

a. missing or incorrect

b. so insecure that it is likely to fall off

c. letter or figure missing or incomplete

d. faded, dirty, delaminated, deteriorated or obscured, so that it is likely to be misread or is not easily legible by a person standing approximately 15 meters to the rear of the machine

e. background overprinted or shadowed with text e.g. vehicle manufacturer name

2. The registration plate a. does not have black characters on a yellow background b. is not fixed vertically, or as close to vertical as is reasonably practical

3. A registration plate obviously displaying a honeycomb or similar effect background.

4. A registration plate with

a. characters which are obviously not the correct height, character width, stroke width, not of equal width along their entire length or incorrectly spaced

b. a character not correctly formed, sloping, or likely to be misread

c. any feature that has the effect of changing the appearance or legibility of any of the characters, so that the true identity of the vehicle is less easily established

d. characters formed using a font which is not substantially similar to the prescribed font

e. characters formed using broken or multiple strokes

f. characters laid out in an incorrect format

g. a margin obviously less than the minimum requirement

h. a non-reflective border obviously wider than permitted or positioned too close to the characters (see page 5).

a. a Vehicle Identification Number not permanently displayed or not legible, or

b. more than one different Vehicle Identification Number displayed.

Note It is acceptable for a vehicle that has been manufactured as part of a multistage build, (a modification taken place to a vehicle at the manufacture stage before sold as new) to show more than one VIN. The second and subsequent stage VINs will also be a 17 digit VIN and will be displayed on an additional plate. When a multistage built vehicle is presented for test the last stage VIN must be used for MOT documentation.
Prescribed Font

3D and some other style characters are permissible, provided the font style is adhered to.

New style (from 1 September 2001) registrations
must be set out in the following format

Northern Ireland Registration Plates
These are not age related and usually consist of three letters followed by four numbers. They must conform to the same standards as other UK registration plates, depending on the date of first registration. This includes the optional display of the distinguishing sign of the UK.


Registration plates can optionally display a non-reflective border with a maximum width of 6mm and not closer than 5mm to the characters

Vehicles registered before 1 September 2001, can be set out in either a two or three line format, as illustrated below

Single line format registration plates are not acceptable.

Cherished Plates

Older style registrations must meet the registration plate requirements according to the date of first registration of the machine, with a format style as illustrated below e.g. letters on one line, figures on another

Size of Characters
Testers are not required to physically measure the characters or their spacing and the following information is provided for guidance only. Registration plates should only be rejected for character dimensions or spacing if they are clearly incorrect

Relevant Dimension Size
Character height 64mm
Character width (except for the figure 1 or letter I) 44mm
Stroke width 10mm
Space between two characters in group 10mm
Vertical space between groups 13mm
Horizontal space between groups 30mm
Margins (minimum) 11mm

Note: The space permitted between a "1" or an "I" and another character is proportionately greater than the above dimensions.

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