Black and silver number plates – the latest

Posted on January 29th, 2021 by Rob Marshall

Black and silver number plates - the latest

Blink and you may have missed it but the law on black and silver number plates changed on the 1st January.


The new rule is simple: No car made after 1st January 1980 is permitted to display number-plates with white/silver lettering on a black background.


This means that all cars, built from 1980, must comply with the British Standard BS AU 145d to be legal. This applies not only to colour but also other aspects of the display, including font style and letter spacings.


The DVLA explains why the clarification is necessary:

“Following the change in the definition of a historic vehicle for vehicle tax exemption purposes in 2015, an issue was identified in the regulatory requirements for the valid display of a black and silver number plate. This resulted in an unintended consequence, where any vehicle over 40 years old and registered in the historic tax class would be permitted to display an old-style black and silver number plate. This was despite the law previously requiring all vehicles first registered after 1st January 1973 to only display the yellow and white number plates with black characters.

As this was never the intention, we have sought to rectify this through a legal correction… Those vehicles with a construction date prior to 1st January 1980 will continue to be able to legally display black and silver number plates to avoid any undue costs of replacement.”

The DVLA also confirms that, from New Year’s Day 2021, a new number plate can no longer display a Euro symbol, although plates that are fixed to vehicles already will be unaffected.


GEM also understands that a new technical British Standard for number plates will be introduced later this year. We shall provide more details about those requirements, when they become available.