In 2001 the laws governing the display and supply of replacement number plates were very changed in order to tackle the problems of false plates and mis-spaceed or illegible number plates. False plates are a problem to the police as criminals use them while committing crimes and illegible or mis-spaced number plates create problems for speed cameras and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems.
Since the introduction of the new legislation all number plate suppliers have had to register with the DVLA and must put their name and postcode on each plate manufactured. The supplier must inspect proof of entitlement and ID provided by the customer and keep a record of both to be kept available for inspection by the police or trading standards officers.
The layout and materials of number plates are also specified in the legislation, and must comply with british standard BS AU 145d which governs the reflectivity and durability of the materials. There is only one font which is legal and characters must be 79mm high and 50mm wide. The gaps between each figure must be 11mm except for the gap between the two blocks of digits which must be 33mm. There should be a minimum gap at the top, bottom and sides of 11mm.
Europlates are allowed with a choice of flags such as St Georges Cross, Saltire, Union Jack, or Red Dragon. These are very useful for those that take their car to continental europe frequently as it negates the need for a GB sticker on the car.