BS AU 145e – Are 3D and 4D Number Plates Legal?

By Dash Dynamics

22 June 2021

3D and 4D Number Plates

3D and 4D number plates are a large part of the number plate industry. They allow number plate dealers and end users the opportunity to customize their vehicle with a high-end product. With the introduction of the new British Standard in September 2021, many have questioned whether these number plates will continue to be legal.

This is because in December of 2020, the DVLA issued this newsletter to manufacturers and registered number plate suppliers.

In the newsletter, the DVLA states:

“The agency has not seen any evidence to show that number plates displaying raised plastic, acrylic or Perspex lettering (3D/4D plates) are able to meet the requirements of either the current or new the [sic] British Standard.”

As expected, this statement has caused concern for manufacturers of 3D and 4D number plates and their end users as to whether these plates will be legal. However, in effect, this statement does not claim they are either legal or not. It only says that the DVLA have seen no evidence either way.

The New Standard

The new British Standard, BS AU 145e, is designed to enforce the legal print requirements of number plates and to improve readability by ANPR cameras. All manufacturers and registered number plate suppliers must abide by it from the 1st September 2021.

The new standard notes under section 5.2.1 that “the registration characters shall not be removable”. In our opinion, this is the only new point of contention for 3D and 4D digits.

Removable Digits

In February, following many direct calls to the DVLA by both dealers and end users, the Department for Transport released a statement.

In their response, they provided two key points:

“The new British Standard for retroreflective number plates does not state that number plates with raised characters, including 3D gel and 4D number plates, will not be permitted.”


“The new standard also specifies that the characters of the registration number must not be removable.”

Once again, the point of contention is not the digits themselves but rather the fact that they may be removable.

Number Plate Testing

We have contacted the DVLA, the British Standards Institute, and several independent testing houses to expand on this matter. None have been able to confirm to what degree adhesive components will be permissible or what the tests parameters are.

A direct response from the Minister of Transport, Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP. referred us back to the British Standard. He stated it was the responsibility of the component supplier to ensure that the products they supply are lawful. Further to this he stated ‘To ensure this, a component manufacturer or supplier can conduct third party testing’.

As no actual tests for removability have been set out, currently there is no method to test 3D and 4D number plates in this matter.

It is possible to conduct tests for all other aspects outlined in the standard.

We are confident that our black digits will pass the test as we have more than 17 years of experience in digit production. Last year alone Dash Dynamics manufactured and sold around a million digits. This represents over 75,000 cars and motorcycles using just our products added to the roads in a single year.

As such, we are more than happy to invest in testing our products to ensure they meet the required standards. Dash Dynamics has been quoted high, four figure numbers to carry out these tests and they have to be paid for each product we produce.

To date we know of no manufacturer who has gone through an independent testing body to test their product.

Are they legal?

Unfortunately, at this time, the simple answer is that we do not know where the law stands on the matter of removable digits, however, we are working as best we can to get an answer.

Until then, we can only proceed as we currently are.

Further information regarding the changes in BSAU 145e are available here.