Since 1903, it has been a legal requirement for vehicles to display a number plate. Since then, the number plate has gone through several developments including the 1973 change from black and silver number plates to yellow rear and white front reflective plates.
Black and silver number plates on a classic vehicle can give it an extra finishing touch of authenticity that many owners desire. But did you know that not every classic vehicle is able to display black and silver number plates? In this article, we talk you through the rules and regulations of when you can, and when you can’t display one.
To display a traditional number plate, your vehicle must meet two criteria:
Firstly, in 2015, the DVLA ruled that vehicles manufactured more than 40 years ago were permitted to display black and silver number plates. This means that if your vehicle was manufactured before 1 January 1975, you are eligible to display a traditional number plate. It’s important to note that this date is fixed and does not roll over each year, so if your vehicle was manufactured after this date, you are not permitted to display a black and silver number plate.
Once your vehicle has reached this milestone, you must then apply for the historic vehicles tax class. As you may already know, vehicles over 40 years old are exempt from vehicle tax, but you do need to inform the authorities by either applying for the historic vehicles tax or by declaring it as off the road using SORN.
It’s worth noting that even though the DVLA use 40 years of age to define a historic vehicle, you can purchase classic vehicle insurance for motors much younger than this. For instance, if you are a member of the Jaguar Enthusiast’s club, your insurance company may be able to provide cover for a Jaguar from brand new.
If you meet the two sets of criteria above and decide to go ahead and purchase black and silver number plates, you must do so from a registered number plate supplier. You can search for registered suppliers local to your area by visiting gov.uk/number-plate-supplier. This ensures that the number plate meets the standard required by the DVLA. There are a variety of options you can choose from including pressed metal, plastic or even hand-painted digits depending on your preference and/or budget.
Also, don’t forget to take your log book and some photographic ID with you when you visit your supplier. They will need these to ensure that your vehicle is compliant with the rules explained above.
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