Why are number plates yellow & white?

Each country across the world have their own ways of displaying number plates, some have a certain colour for the types of vehicle (i.e. orange for taxis, blue for private cars etc), other countries just use all numbers, some are multi coloured, city logos are displayed in some countries and north-west Canada's number plates are shaped as polar bears! Number plates displayed in the UK today are yellow and white, although this has not always been the case.


All number plates were originally black with white, grey or silver characters, until retroreflective plates were specified in British Standard BS AU 145 in 1967. These were white on the front and yellow on the rear of the vehicle, with black characters. White/yellow retro-reflective plates became a legal requirement for most newly-registered vehicles on 1 January 1973



What do the colours of number plates signify in the UK?

To adhere to the road regulations in the UK, all vehicles must display a white number plate at the front of the vehicle composed of reflective material with all characters displayed in black, while a yellow plate at the rear must bear the registration in black characters.

There are some exceptions, for example all UK Military vehicles do not employ reflective materials as they are more susceptible to detection by enemy forces. Vehicles that are deemed as classics by the DVLA are permitted to showcase the older style of UK registration plates. These plates are black and feature index marks in either white or silver. Vehicles aged 40 years or older enjoy other privileges, such as exemption from annual MOT tests, and are legally permitted to use older plate styles that deviate from the current ones of yellow and white.



Why are number plates white & yellow?

The main function of a number plate is to allow fast and clear identification of its alphanumeric characters not only for fellow motorists but also for law enforcement. When a criminal activity or an accident happens involving a vehicle, it means that crucial information can be readily available to the authorities. 

Having number plates that remain easily readable under various weather and lighting conditions is crucial. Experts believe that black characters on a white background is the most legible combination. Black characters on a yellow background, deemed the second most readable colour combination, were chosen for the rear plates.




Why are rear number plates yellow while the front ones are white?

If white and black offer the easiest readability, why incorporate yellow plates?

The reasoning behind white plates at the front and yellow at the rear is to make is quick and easy to differentiate between the front and rear of a vehicle for drivers on the road, enabling them to know the vehicles direction and whether it's moving toward or away from their own vehicle. 

Additionally, it is illegal to show a white light at the rear of your vehicle because plates are made of reflective material and so this could potentially cause confusion.



Why do electric cars have a green badge on their number plates in the UK?

Green badges were introduced in 2020 for electric vehicles to affix to their number plates, this was aimed at raising awareness of zero-emission cars on the roads. The green badge allows them to be easily identified as an electric vehicle and also enables EV Drivers the incentives such as access to bus lanes, discounted parking, and entry into zero-emissions zones or Clean Air Zones, by their local authorities. Starting in 2030, the UK will only be able to sell all-electric vehicles for new car purchases, while older cars using combustion engines will remain on the road until further notice is received from the UK government.



Can you add colour to your number plate?

UK plates used today must be white and yellow with black alphanumeric characters in the Charles Wright Font, but there are still ways to put some colour on your plate while keeping to the laws. It’s possible to add one of the UK’s national flag for a little colour on your number plates. For example, you can include the white, blue and red of the Union Jack, a red and white St George cross, or a blue and white cross of St Andrew for Scotland. You can also include a red dragon of Wales standing on a field of green.

One of the latest legal styles of number plates is 4D registrations. These plates feature specially laser-cut characters that are presented in black to be legal and are raised 3mm from the registration and are available to buy from us here at Moonstone Plates. If you wish to buy a set of 4D or standard plates you can connect with one of our team below.



Looking to buy a private number plate?

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

Click the link www.moonstoneplates.com/buy or press our logo to go back to the home page to begin your number plate journey!

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


Looking to sell a private number plate?

Alternatively, if you have a registration plate and are looking to sell or know someone who might you can click here to go to our sell page or give our team a call on 01995 213112.


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