Spotting fake number plate
3 minutes

In the UK, fake number plates are becoming more prevalent as thieves try to avoid capture and disobey traffic laws. While spotting a fake number plate is not always simple, several telltale indicators can guide you. Here are some hints for identifying a fake number plate

Examine the lettering

Inconsistencies in the lettering are one of the best methods to spot a false number plate. The font used on fake plates frequently has irregular or incorrect spacing between the characters. Watch out for typographical errors, unusual fonts, and any other inconsistencies with the text or spacing.

Legitimate license plates should have uniform lettering with no obvious errors. The Charles Wright 2001 font has been used on all UK license plates since 2001; hence, any plate with a different font should be investigated further. 

Inspect the material

The material used to construct the number plate is another thing to look out for when searching for a fake one. Authentic license plates are normally made of reflective acrylic plastic with a 3M holographic laminate on top (but older plates from before 2001 can be made of metal). 

Fake plates are typically composed of inferior materials that are simple to remove or replace and don’t reflect light, such as paper or normal plastic. 

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Verify any expired dates

Looking at a car’s registration date is the last approach to tell if its number plate is phony. The age identifier, which consists of two letters followed by two digits and indicates when the automobile was registered (the first half is used for vehicles registered in various parts of the year), must be displayed on the registration plates of all UK cars registered since 2001.

The car may have been installed with a phony plate if these identifiers do not match the car’s genuine registration date.

Is it illegal to carry a fake license plate?

Yes, it is unlawful to possess a false license plate. Using fictitious or deceptive automobile license plates is typically a crime with fines and jail time as a penalty.

Additionally, it may lead to the confiscation of the dangerous vehicle. While some states permit the use of vanity plates for ornamental purposes, it is crucial to remember that these are typically subject to regulations regarding their size, font, and marking to distinguish them from actual registration numbers. 

In addition to being against the law, employing a phony or fake number plate could endanger other drivers since it could be used in fraudulent or criminal acts like car theft. Therefore, you should seek guidance from your local police or motor vehicle authority if you believe someone is operating a fake number plate.

Additionally, remember that changing, modifying, or otherwise interfering with a legitimate number plate is prohibited because doing so could result in severe consequences. Therefore, it is recommended to err on the side of caution and get in touch with the appropriate authorities if you ever have doubts about a number plate’s legitimacy.

Tips and tricks

Here are some tips and tricks to help you identify potentially fake number plates:

  1. Check for uniformity: Legitimate number plates usually have consistent font sizes and spacing. Any irregularities may indicate a fake.
  2. Holograms: Many countries incorporate holograms or security seals on their number plates. Tilting the plate should reveal changes in color or patterns.
  3. Watermarks: Some plates may have watermarks visible when held up to light.
  4. Reflectivity: Legitimate number plates often have a certain level of reflectivity, making them more visible at night. Fake plates may lack this feature.
  5. Material quality: Authentic plates are typically made from high-quality materials designed to withstand the elements. Cheap materials or poor craftsmanship could be signs of a fake.
  6. Embossing or Debossing: Legitimate plates may have raised or recessed characters. Fakes may need this feature or need to be better executed.
  7. Official logos and seals: Look for official emblems or logos typically present on legitimate plates. These should be clear and well-defined.
  8. Spelling and Formatting: Pay close attention to the arrangement of letters and numbers. Mistakes in spelling or formatting are a clear indicator of a fake plate.
  9. Registration stickers and Decals: Check for legitimate registration stickers or decals. These should be securely affixed and not appear tampered with.
  10. Regional Codes: Familiarize yourself with your area’s regional codes or symbols. Fake plates may not display the correct codes.
  11. Color and Design: Be aware of your region’s standard colors and designs used for number plates. Any deviations from the norm may be a cause for concern.
  12. Check for alterations: Inspect the plate closely for any signs of tampering, such as altered characters or covering of original details.
  13. Verify with authorities: If you have strong suspicions about a plate’s authenticity, contact local law enforcement or relevant authorities for verification.
  14. Photograph and Report: If you believe you’ve come across a fake plate, document it with clear photographs and report it to the appropriate authorities.


In conclusion, it is critical to be alert when recognizing fake number plates because they can lead to serious issues if ignored. You should be able to swiftly determine whether any car has an unauthorized registration sticker attached by following these three easy steps, and if necessary, take the necessary action.

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