cloned number plates
6 minutes

If you have lately been found being the victim of having cloned number plates, then directly contact the police or authority who issue a fine or penalty proving the vehicle is not there during the crime. Cloned number plate history check turn to put you at high risk when your car has been incorrectly identified. This is becoming more common as criminals attempt to evade Clean Air Zone (CAZ) fees.

According to the latest data, there are 13,000 reported occurrences of number plate cloning in England and Wales per year. There is an incentive for thieves to copy rather than pay because the ULEZ zone is expected to increase later this year.

Any of us could be next to land up in such a situation; what should you do if your number plate is cloned?

Here’s the free guide for answering your queries. Let’s discuss this further.

What is number plate cloning?

In simple words, vehicle cloning means putting your car’s registration number on another vehicle. It happens when criminals steal a car, repair a written off or are involved in serious organised crime. The culprits pick the same model of another legally registered car with similar descriptions— cloned number plate system even more genuine by changing the number plates & VIN and offering a fake logbook to appear fully legal. It impacts the legally registered car owner who has to face these issues.

Also Read: Know how to analyse if the vehicle’s logbook is original.

What are the risks, impact, and countermeasures?

Risks and Impact

  • Criminal activities facilitated by cloned plates
  • Traffic offences and evasion of fines
  • Impersonation and identity theft
  • Challenges for law enforcement


  • Advanced number plate security features
  • Centralized vehicle registration databases
  • Automated license plate recognition (ALPR) systems
  • Cooperation between law enforcement agencies
  • Public awareness campaigns

What is a cloned registration number?

A cloned registration number is the illegal practice of creating counterfeit or duplicated license plates or vehicle registration numbers. It involves replicating the alphanumeric combination displayed on a legitimate license plate and affixing it to another vehicle to show that the second vehicle has the same registration as the original one.

The purpose of cloning registration numbers is usually to engage in criminal activities while avoiding detection or identification by law enforcement agencies. By using cloned registration numbers, individuals can disguise their vehicles and make it more difficult for authorities to trace their activities back to them.

Cloning registration numbers is illegal in most jurisdictions as it is a form of vehicle registration fraud. It can be used for illicit activities, including theft, smuggling, evading traffic violations, or involvement in other criminal acts. Law enforcement agencies employ various methods and technologies to detect cloned registration numbers and apprehend those involved in such practices.

Why do offenders use cloned number plates?

There are various reasons to clone a car, and here are some common practices behind cloning.

  • On stolen vehicles to hide their identity
  • Perform a criminal activity like fuel theft
  • Use it as a getaway car
  • To avoid speeding tickets, parking fines, tolls, and congestion charges

A cloned car, especially one with the same make and model as a genuine vehicle, is hard to be recognized by the police. Why? Because the automated number plate (ANPR) cameras just inspect the registration number of a vehicle. The purpose of ANPR cameras is to observe traffic crimes like speeding, tax, MOT, insurance, etc. The cameras cannot carry out stolen number plate checks.

How is it possible for criminals to copy my number plate?

According to the DVLA, you can order a number plate from any authentic supplier. And this is where the problem starts.

Criminals order cloned number plates from dishonest suppliers. Anyone who needs to order a number plate has to show their ID and proof using the registration number. However, some car number plate suppliers do not take care of these checks, specifically those who offer online services. It means there will be two cars with the same registration numbers; one is legally registered, and the other is not.

There is another easy way to duplicate your number; simply steal it from the car. Lawbreakers these days use social media for this purpose. They surf social sites for different car pictures people post on their pages. These pictures tell them the number plate, colour, make, and model of the vehicle. The criminals use this information for car cloning. It is wise not to post your vehicle pictures online.

How can I prevent someone from cloning my number plate?

The following actions are used to reduce the likelihood of number plate cloning:

  1. Buy number plates from a DVLA-registered vendor; avoiding cheap but shady vendors now could result in issues later.
  2. Because they are distinctive, personalized license plates are less likely to be copied.
  3. Save pictures of your vehicle. You can differentiate your vehicle from the car that committed the crime if it has distinguishing features like dents, scrapes, or other modifications. This could be used as proof to save you from penalties and fines.
  4. A dash camera can record evidence and follow your locations.

Recommend reading: Tips for buying a used car based on the information obtained from a DVLA car registration check


cloned number plates


What actions can I take if my car is a clone?

The first step is to report the cloned number plate by filling in the complaint. Further, UK police investigate and provide you with a crime number. It will be helpful to prove that you are not responsible for any fines or penalties.

The second step is to order a personalized number plate for your vehicle from a reputable provider. It helps you provide documented evidence for future fines and criminal activities registered on your cloned number plate.

You need to contact the DVLA informing them that someone has duplicated your number plate. You can get help from the DVLA leaflet in f104.

Keep in mind; it is sure that to reveal the cloned number plate is not for free. Although DVLA sourced a full check report provides the essential details to spot the clone. From Car Analytics reports, spot the cloned vehicles easily through the VIN match and previous plate change history.

How to know if the vehicle is cloned?

No method exists to direct you to end up with the duplicate number plate unless you get the Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) or a fine that you don’t know anything about. It could be a speeding/parking ticket or other illegal activity like driving in a bus lane.

You need to act fast once if you receive fines for a post for which you are not responsible. Firstly, you have to change your number plate. Let’s say you want to purchase a used car and want to avoid cloned number plates. Here are a few things to avoid purchasing such cloned cars.

  • Carry out our full car check or alternative hpi check to know vehicle details, which is the cheapest in England (just £9.95). Unfortunately, our free vehicle check in the UK does not include a stolen number plate check.
  • Ensure the vehicle VIN matches the number plate, and also, it has to match the registration document and the online car check.
  • Don’t buy a used car by paying cash, as it is tough to prove that you own the vehicle. Buying a cloned car puts you in trouble if you don’t have evidence of purchase.
  • It is a red sign when you find a cheaper used car than the actual market value. It is a common indicator to look at when you are buying a used car.

How to recycle old number plates?

Recycling your used plates is a quick and environmentally friendly way to eliminate them. Additionally, it helps prevent the plates from being stolen and used as a weapon.

  • You might consider selling your old plates to make a few dollars since many plate suppliers buy private plates.
  • Consider giving it up to DVLA if it’s a personalized number plate you want to get rid of.
  • If you possess the most recent V778 or V750 paperwork or never allocated the registration number to a vehicle, you may be eligible for a refund of up to £80.

Potential penalties for offenders involved in plate cloning

The penalties for plate cloning or license plate duplication vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific laws in place. However, engaging in such activities is considered illegal and can have severe consequences.

Here are some potential penalties that offenders involved in plate cloning may face:

  1. Criminal Charges: Offenders may be charged with various criminal offences, such as fraud, forgery, identity theft, or possessing counterfeit documents.
  2. Fines: Individuals caught duplicating license plates can be subjected to substantial penalties, which can vary based on the offence’s jurisdiction and seriousness.
  3. Imprisonment: Serious cases of plate cloning or repeat offences may lead to imprisonment. The laws of the particular jurisdiction and the offence will determine the length of the circumstances of the case.
  4. License Suspension or Revocation: Offenders may have their driver’s license suspended or revoked, making it illegal for them to operate a vehicle for a certain period or permanently.
  5. Criminal Record: Convictions related to plate cloning will leave a criminal record, which can have long-lasting negative effects on future employment prospects, travel, and other aspects of life.

It’s important to remember that the penalties can differ greatly based on the specific jurisdiction and circumstances of the offence to learn precise and comprehensive information about penalties associated with plate cloning, it’s best to examine the pertinent rules and laws in your particular region.

Related Blogs:

Vehicle Registration Checker and Number Plate History

What happens to a personalized number plate when you scrap your car?

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