British license plate standard

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The British license plate standard refers to a specific shape, size and design of license plate (or number plate). Originally conceived by the government of the United Kingdom, this standard became widely used by dependencies and holdings of the UK and has continued on even after many of those holdings have gained independence.

Generally, the modern British standard is sized similarly to that of the European Union, but differs in the larger size of its letters and numbers. British standard plates (at least within the United Kingdom) are also generally known for their usage of black numerals, a white plate at the front of the vehicle and a high-visibility yellow plate at the rear, though this is not true in all countries using the British standard. Some countries hold to variations on the "classic" British standard, which used a black plate at each end of the vehicle with silver (early) or white (later) numerals.

On that note, it should be understood that only within the United Kingdom and its dependencies is the modern standard specifically held to; many other countries using the "British standard" issue plates that may only loosely resemble those from the UK. In fact, many countries that formerly used the British standard (or a variation of it) have since moved on to other standards.

Within the British Isles, vehicle registration is handled by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). The DVLA keeps track of all currently used, currently inactive and potentially available registration numbers for vehicles and regulates the creation or issuance of number plates for them. The DVLA also certifies businesses within the UK as being able to create plates to the standard. Very often, these businesses are vehicle dealers, but there are a number of companies that make specialty plates as well.

Countries using the British standard

The following list includes only those countries that are currently using the British standard or a similar variation of it; countries that have since switched to other standards (or that have evolved into something completely different) are not included. This list may be incomplete.

Country name Date of adoption Current baseplate
Cyprus c. 1930
Seychelles c. 1937
United Kingdom 1920s Varies widely, as plates can be custom-made

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