Please note: We are a plate maker, we do not sell vehicle registration numbers.
TOP Motorcycle Number Plate FAQ’s
Are your motorcycle number plates road legal?In order to ensure your plate is legal on UK roads, please select ‘bike’ from the plate maker and under plate type select, ‘legal plate’.
Can you use a motorcycle number plate on a car?Most car number plates in the UK are a standard oblong shape, however, some vehicles like 4x4s and vans have square plates. Motorcycles also have square plates which are usually smaller than those used on a car. They have to follow the same font regulations as cars but with their own designated character size and spacing. They are permitted to be on two lines due to the square shape of the plate and you could transfer a motorcycle plate from a bike to a car. Read more here
What size are motorcycle number plates?This is a grey area and if you go online to search for square motorcycle plates, you can be offered a range of sizes. At the end of the day, providing the characters displayed are the correct height and width and with the requisite spacing then the square that surrounds them can be as small or as large as you want. There is no official ruling on the actual plate size but commonly this is 229mm x 178mm or 9”x7” in imperial measurements.
How to fit a motorcycle number plate?You can affix your motorcycle number plate with either sticky pads or screws. You can see how to do this on our number plate fitting guide.
You can affix your motorcycle number plate with either sticky pads or screws. You can see how to do this on our number plate fitting guide.
Motorcycle Number Plate Guide
The first motorcycles appeared in Great Britain at around about the same time as early motor cars, the turn of the last century. By 1916, there were 150,000 registered motorcycles and by 1924, this had roared away to the half-million mark. The Second World War put a dampener on things as petrol was withdrawn totally from private use in 1942 and didn’t come off the ration until 1950.
Motorcycles followed the same regulatory registration process that was put in place for cars during the real boom years of the 1960s. Whenever a change has been made to car plates, motorcycle number plates have also been included.
Current regulations from the DVLA state that motorcycles registered on or after 1st September 2001 need only carry a rear-mounted number plate. Motorcycles registered before that date can also have a front plate but it is not obligatory. Front plates were removed due to safety concerns as they had caused injuries to third parties in accidents. The plate used to sit over the front mudguard on top of the front wheel and could act as a knife in a collision hence their removal. The actual rules are all set out in the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001.
Motorcycle number plates should be written on two lines and feature black characters on a yellow reflective background for the rear plate and if a front plate is displayed then this should be black lettering on a white background. Just because the front plate is not compulsory doesn’t mean that motorcyclists can play fast and loose with the regulations. If you opt to have a front plate, then it must comply. The required font is identical to car registration plates and called ‘Charles Wright’ and the characters can be three-D or what is sometimes referred to as two-tone.
In 2015, the DVLA stated that vehicles including motorcycles which were manufactured more than forty years ago could display retro black and silver plates. This stipulation is rolling and is updated every April to include new vehicles reaching their 40th birthdays. The black and silver plates are particularly popular on vintage bikes and highlight the original location for the front number plate which is curved over the top of the mudguard on the bike’s front wheel.
This classification known as the ‘historic vehicles class’ removes the need for Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) and also the requirement for a bike MOT. According to the Department of Transport, there are just under 100,000 bikes in the UK made in 1978 or earlier and somewhere around one third are pre-1960. What makes this an interesting scenario for bikes is that some of these newer models from the 1970s are incredibly high performing and wouldn’t look too shabby pulling away from the traffic lights in modern company.
Motorcycle number plates and motorcycle show plates are sold in different sizes and there is often great debate about how small is small and is too small illegal. There is no actual specific regulation governing the size of a square motorcycle plate but there are rules surrounding the dimension of the letters so it is only common sense that the plate must be within a certain size if the characters are to be of the requisite height and width. Currently, the characters must be 64mm high and 44mm wide with the thickness of the stroke at 10mm and the space between the characters also set at 10mm. There must be a plain background of 11mm between the characters and the edge of the plate so to remain road legal, you cannot shrink the plate beyond a certain point without having to also reduce the characters in size which is definitely illegal. It can be hard to tell though if the differential is very marginal without a traffic officer actually measuring the plate at the roadside but this has been done. Motorbikes can sometimes focus the attention of traffic officers particularly if they are stopped for other reasons.
The content of the plate is exactly the same allocation as on a car, the geographical registration area – two letters – the age identifier – two numbers – and finally the three random letters which on a square plate sit on the second line. Sharp-eyed motorcyclists and aficionados of the small registration plate will quickly realise that registrations that contain either the numeral ‘1’ or the letter ‘I’ or both which are not subject to the same height and width requirements, could fit onto a smaller plate than registrations without those characters. Other than that it is impossible to shrink the plate beyond a certain size without breaking the law and making the characters both smaller and narrower.