The Complete Guide To 3D & 4D Number Plates

3D and 4D number plates have become very popular and it’s a modification that anyone can do to their car, van or motorbike. Within this article, we discuss the differences between the two as well as whether they are road legal and will pass an MOT.

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3D & 4D Number Plates
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Number plates are an essential aspect of every vehicle on UK roads and over the years, advancements in technology have led to the introduction of 3D and 4D number plates. Although they aren’t to everyone’s taste, for many people they add a touch of style and personalization to their car, van or motorbike.

If you are new to 3D and 4D number plates, we walk you through everything you need to know below.

What Are 3D Number Plates?

3D number plates are number plates that incorporate three-dimensional characters. Unlike traditional flat number plates, 3D plates feature characters that are raised from the surface, creating a distinctive and eye-catching effect. In terms of creating the raised characters, they are often made using acrylic materials such as gel resin or high-quality ABS plastic. As you can see in the photo, the characters are raised but not as much as the 4D alternative below.

3D Number Plates

What Are 4D Number Plates?

4D number plates take the concept of 3D plates one step further by introducing an additional layer of personalization. This is because 4D number plates are made up using laser-cut acrylic characters that are then bonded to the plate using an adhesive to give it a striking raised effect. Due to the way it’s constructed, you can also add additional levels of personalisation such as a glow/background behind the characters too.

4D Number Plates

What Is The Difference Between 3D & 4D Number Plates?

The main difference between 3D and 4D number plates is how they are constructed. For example, 3D number plates are usually made using a gel polyurethane resin whereas 4D number plates are made of laser-cut acrylic, which gives it a distinctive raised appearance. As well as the appearance, 4D number plates also offer additional personalisation as you have the option of a background behind the letters and characters if this is something you require.

Are They Legal & Will They Pass An MOT?

The legality of 3D and 4D number plates is an important factor to consider and something we get asked a lot.

In the UK, number plates must adhere to specific guidelines outlined by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). According to these guidelines, number plates must have characters that are:

  1. A standard height of 79mm.
  2. A width of 50mm, except for the number “1” or letter “I,” which must be 14mm wide.
  3. A stroke width of 11mm.
  4. A space of 11mm between characters.
  5. A space of 33mm between groups of characters.

Failing to comply with these rules will result in a fine if you are pulled over by the police.

Are 3D 4D Number Plates Legal

Although the DVLA doesn’t mention much about 3D and 4D number plates, they do state that “3D (raised) characters” are allowed in their guidelines. The main points regarding number plates in general is that they must be easy to read and conform to a standard font. Therefore, there are yet to be any guidelines to say that they are illegal.

However, you must ensure that the 3D or 4D effect does not impede the legibility of the characters or affect their dimensions. Therefore, it’s recommended that you purchase your 3D or 4D number plate from reputable suppliers who provide number plates that comply with DVLA regulations to avoid potential legal issues.

Regarding MOT compliance, 3D and 4D number plates should pass as long as they meet the necessary visibility and legibility requirements. During an MOT test, examiners inspect the condition and clarity of the number plates to ensure they are easily readable. As long as the raised characters are not faded or damaged and the plate does not obstruct any information, your vehicle should pass the test.

Importance of Choosing A Reputable Supplier

To ensure that the 3D or 4D number plates you decide to purchase are legal and pass an MOT, you’ll want to ensure you buy them from a reputable supplier. Although you could check the supplier’s reviews, the best way to check if they are reputable is whether they have the appropriate accreditations such as a BS (British Standard) certification, ISO certification and whether or not they are part of the Registered Number Plate Supplier (RNPS) register. If they are accredited, they are more than likely going to be committed to complying with the DVLA regulations.

What Are The Drawbacks?

While 3D and 4D number plates offer a visually appealing alternative to traditional plates, there are a few drawbacks to consider. The first drawback is that they are far more expensive than standard plates due to the additional material and manufacturing process required to create them. Another drawback is that many suppliers don’t make them so that they comply with the required UK standards, which means that they can be illegal without you even realising.


Although 3D and 4D number plates are not to everyone’s taste, they are currently road legal in the UK and will pass an MOT. However, if you intend to buy a set, you’ll want to ensure you are buying them from a reputable supplier.

If you require further information regarding 3D and 4D number plates, feel free to get in touch and we will try to provide our assistance where possible.

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