Are 3D & 4D plates legal?

With personalised number plates becoming more and more popular, we want to make sure that you have all the correct information that you need before you go ahead and purchase a 3D or 4D plate.

So firstly, what is the difference between a 3D and 4D number plate?​

3D are domed gel resin characters, glossy in appearance and have rounded edges are made with polyurethane gel resin which provides a smooth finish, and a slick raised profile due to the letters underneath.

4D are solid acrylic characters with crisp 90° edges giving them a more solid look and a bolder style and are more obviously raised off the plate.

Are raised number plates legal?

Technically, the term "4D plates" might be misleading, as these plates are, in fact, three-dimensional. The distinction arises to differentiate them from 3D gel effect plates, where characters appear three-dimensional but lack the physical depth, and they are softer. 4D standout plates, however, live up to their name by truly standing out. The black acrylic laser-cut letters and numbers boldly contrast with the background colour, creating a visually striking effect.

Are embossed number plates legal?

The good news for enthusiasts of distinctive number plates is that both 3D and 4D plates are legal on UK roads, provided they adhere to the regulations outlined by the Motor Car Act. As of September 1, 2021, new regulations, denoted by BSAU 145e codes, came into effect for number plates manufactured after this date. These regulations focus on several key aspects, including reflective material, absence of background patterns, and specific requirements for font, size, and spacing.


The rules stipulate that the registration must be:

Solid Black Font: To enhance vehicle identification through Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems, plates must feature a solid black font, displayed in black characters on a white plate at the front and on a yellow plate at the rear. Additionally, characters must be of equal height, and no background patterns, such as honeycomb designs, are allowed on the characters.

Plate Durability: Plates are now subjected to durability and toughness tests, including an abrasion test. This ensures that they can withstand environmental elements like grit, road salt, and debris while remaining readable. A BS AU 145e plate should endure a minimum of 160 hours of consistent force, assuming the adhesive pads are correctly placed.

Extra Information: Newly registered plates are now required to display additional information, including the supplier's name and postcode, the BS AU 145e code, and the name of the plate manufacturer.


Are gel plates legal?

A gel number plate refers to a number plate which has its characters altered to achieve a distinct 3-dimensional raised appearance on the words and numbers on the registration plate. This is achieved by applying industrial-strength long-lasting resin on top of the 3D characters.

To clear up any confusion, gel plates are 100% LEGAL if you stick to the outlined rules from the DVLA

The latest update to UK number plate rules as mentioned earlier, was released in 2021. The DVLA created these outlines to improve road safety, minimise the number of illegal vehicle activities, and clear up any confusion drivers were expressing. The industry is worth over £2 billion in the UK alone, so it’s not like the government wants the trade to just come to a stand-still.


There are lots of reasons people choose a 3D or 4D design, but here are some of the top ones:

  • Plates are reinforced with tough acrylic, meaning they are more durable than standard ones.
  • The sleek look gives any vehicle a modern finish.
  • Numbers and letters are highly visible, increasing the safety of your vehicle on the road. This helps other road users, as well as pedestrians and cyclists.
  • 4D plates are also made from acrylic but instead of polyurethane characters, they use professionally laser-cut characters made from acrylic sheeting. This allows the characters to be thicker and more rectangular for a more eye-catching look.

As we are a legally certified license plate vendor, we can guarantee that the options you choose for your plate will be within all of the legal parameters outlined by the DVLA, as a result, you will receive official paperwork to show any time it is requested.


Will 3D & 4D Plates pass an MOT?

3D & 4D plates are legal as long as they follow the previously highlighted stipulations, however, does this mean they will pass an MOT? It is not as simple as a yes or no.

We already know registration plates will be checked during an MOT, so what aspects of the plate are they checking?


Secure attachment


Characters correctly formed and spaced

If all of these conditions are met, your plate will pass an MOT.


Looking to buy a number plate?

Take a look on our website at the thousands and thousands of number plates to suit all budgets with prices starting at just £275, it is a perfect & unique gift for everybody.

Click the link or click home page to begin your number plate journey!

If you would like to speak to someone you can call our team Mon-Fri 9am to 6pm on 01995 213112 or click here to contact us


Looking to sell a number plate?

Alternatively, if you have a number plate and are looking to sell click here or give the team a call on 01995 213112.


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