UK Motorcycle Number Plate Guide

Private plate on a motorcycle

Motorcyclists have enough to worry about on the road without being pulled over for having an illegal number plate.

In this guide, we go through everything you need to know about UK motorcycle number plates - so you can stay on the right side of the law.

The General Rules of UK Motorcycle Number Plates

The DVLA set out the rules for motorcycle number plates, and failure to comply will not go down well with them. Make sure your plates do the following:

  • If registered after September 1st, 2001, your registration can be displayed over two lines.
  • If registered before September 1st, 2001, your registration can be displayed over three lines.
  • It is against the law to have text displayed on one single line.
  • Plates must have black text on a yellow background if made after January 1st, 1980.
  • Must be made of reflective material and feature no pattern in the background.
  • Must show the postcode and name of the supplier.
  • You can have “3D style” raised lettering on your motorcycle plate
  • Certain flags or country markings are allowed if they don’t exceed 50mm in width and are on the left side of the plate (Union Flag, St George Cross, St Andrew Cross, Red Dragon)
  • It’s also possible to have your plate display your country of origin, such as:
    • GREAT BRITAIN, Great Britain or GB
    • UNITED KINGDOM, United Kingdom or UK
    • CYMRU, Cymru, CYM or Cym
    • ENGLAND, England, ENG, Eng
    • SCOTLAND, Scotland, SCO or Sco
    • WALES or Wales

Annotated image of a UK Motorcycle Plate

What Is the Legal Size for Motorcycle Number Plates?

The standard size of a UK motorcycle plate is nine by seven inches (230mm x 178mm).

There are no laws that regulate their size. However, the letters themselves are regulated. Beginning in 2001, all motorcycle registration characters must be 64mm in height with a width of 44mm.

Do Motorcycles Need Front Number Plates?

Motorcycles, motor tricycles, and mopeds registered on or after the 1st of September 2001 only need to display a number plate at the rear of the vehicle.

If registered before the 1st of September 2001, you are allowed to display a number plate at the front, but it’s entirely up to you.

What Are the Character Spacing Rules for Motorcycles?

The rules for motorcycle, tricycle and moped number plate spacing are:

  • The space between characters must be 10mm.
  • The space between the age identifier and the random letters must be 30mm.
  • The margins at the top, bottom and side of the plate must be at least 11mm.
  • The vertical space between the age identifier and the random numbers must be 13mm.
  • Characters must be 64mm tall.
  • Characters (except the number 1 or letter I) must be 44mm wide.
  • The character stroke (the thickness of the black print) must be 10mm.

For more info on character spacing, check out our Guide to UK Number Plate Spacing.

Can You Put Personalised Plates on a Motorcycle?

Yes, there are no rules stopping you from putting a personalised number plate on your motorcycle. The styles that may be used are:

Current Style

2 letters + 2 numbers + 3 letters (e.g., TT88 REG)

Prefix Style

1 letter + 1 to 3 numbers + 3 letters (e.g., A2 AAA, A21 AAA, A213 AAA)

Suffix Style

3 letters + 1 to 3 numbers + 1 letter (e.g., AHX 1A, AHX 11A, AHX 111A)

Dateless Style

1, 2, or 3 letters/numbers in different combinations (e.g., ARF 1)

Can I Transfer a Private Number Plate to or From a Motorcycle?

Yes, you can transfer private registration numbers between cars and motorbikes as well as tricycles and mopeds. There are no restrictions on the transfer. However, you cannot transfer and install the same physical number plate.

Can I Put a Black and Silver Number Plate on My Motorcycle?

Under the current law, you are able to put a black and silver number plate on your motorcycle if it was manufactured on or before the 1st of January 1980.

Are Side-Mounted Motorcycle Number Plates Legal?

Technically yes. Your motorcycle can have a side-mounted plate. However, it must meet the exact same criteria as a standard plate, especially when it comes to visibility.

What Are the Penalties for Not Following the Rules?

If you ride without legally recognised plates, you may be fined up to £1,000 and your motorcycle can fail its MOT. If caught misrepresenting a personalised plate, it can be confiscated by the police.

Interested in buying your own plate? Or do you want to see what number plates are available at the next DVLA auction?