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The industry standard size front number plate is 520 mm × 111 mm (20½" × 4⅜").

Rear plates are either the same size, or 285 mm × 203 mm (approx 11"x8") or 533 mm × 152 mm (approx 21"x6").

The physical characteristics of the number plates are set out in British Standard BS AU 145d, which specifies visibility, strength, and reflectivity.

Number plates with smaller characters meeting standards for motorcycles are only permitted on imported vehicles, and then only if they do not have European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval and their construction/design cannot accommodate standard size number plates, for example vehicles made for the US or Japanese market may only have a 305mm x 152mm (12" x 6") area to affix a number plate in which a standard one line plate is too long (460mm) to fit whilst a two line plates is too tall (199mm).

Black number plates with white or silver characters are permitted on vehicles constructed over 40 years ago, if registered under the Historic Vehicle taxation class. Number plates must be displayed in accordance with the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001.

All vehicles manufactured after 1 January 1979 must display number plates of reflex-reflecting material, white at the front and yellow at the rear, with black characters.

It follows that the older style plates are now available for any vehicle constructed 40 or more years ago, provided that an application has been made to the DVLA to have the vehicle included in the historic vehicle class; it is so registered and is nil-rated for Vehicle Excise Duty., which was usually but not always a double-sided plate on top of the front mudguard, curved to follow the contour of the wheel and visible from the sides.

Motorcycles registered after 1 September 2001 may only display a rear number plate, while motorcycles registered before that date can display a number plate at the front if desired.

with black lettering on a white or yellow background.

However, the Finance Bill 2014 and subsequent Finance Acts extended the Historic Vehicle class cut-off year from 1973 to 1974 and subsequently, a rolling forty years.

This had the effect of linking eligibility to display old-style plates with 'Tax Exempt' vehicle status.

The standard size for a motorcycle number in the UK is 9" x 7"(228mm x 178mm), though you can change this size along as you do not alter the characters that are displayed on the number plates.

If you have a full registration that means you will could have a custom shaped plate over the minimum legal size of 9" x 7".

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