i picked up a couple of German style registration plates in California a few years ago that has my UK registered personalised number on both (one yellow and one white)

I appreciate that they are illegal in the UK as the font isn’t the approved Charles Wright font and I backed out of using them in the UK on my van as I don’t want a fine. I live in the UK.

I am going touring for around 12 months in Europe as soon as restrictions are lifted here and abroad (I have an Irish passport and still a EU citizen so I can) so my question is ...

Are these non conformist in Uk style but UK registered number plates legal in Europe ? They are very stylish and blend nicely with the europeans autos plates.

Grateful for a view. Can’t see anything on the net.

Just to be clear, the font isn’t difficult to read or particularly small and could be read @ 40m. I actually think the font is Californian but looks European/German etc

It was just meant to be a bit of customising for my campervan. I have decided not to use use them in the UK but if there are no laws to enforce them in Europe then I would use them. Basically the EEC law (or the country I am in) would have to have a law that says something like “illegal registration plate format to that specified in the Country of Origin” in my case, the UK.

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    What exactly do you mean with German style registration plates? One that uses the now standard font shown here: FE-Schrift – Wikipedia. On the fly, I would say that only plates permitted in the UK would be allowed while driving a UK registered car in Europe. Mar 11 at 21:49
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    Just to stretch the situation, suppose your personalised registration plate has letters 1 cm high. I would not be suprised to find buried somewhere in a country's legislation a requirement that vehicles with foreign registration are required to be fitted with a plate that is legal in the country of origin, which would remove any subjectivity about whether a plate is legible. Mar 11 at 21:58
  • @WeatherVane That would make enforcement incredibly difficult and allow countries to force upon each other arbitrary notions of what counts as legible or not and thus potentially lower standards of legibility. The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic takes the exact opposite approach. It stipulates that “The registration number shall be so composed and displayed as to be legible in normal daylight at a distance of at least 40 m by an observer placed on the axis of the vehicle, the vehicle being stationary”.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 11 at 22:59
  • @Relaxed please read my comment again. Mar 11 at 23:25
  • @WeatherVane That's not a very useful comment, care to explain? If I understand you correctly, you suppose some (all?) countries would require the plate to be legal in the country of origin to avoid silly things like small or illegible type. That means delegating rule-making on what is acceptable to other countries, trusting that all of them have reasonable rules, which are virtually unenforceable anyway (how is a traffic cop supposed to know the rules in a random foreign country whose language s/he doesn't speak). I cannot rule out that it exists somewhere but it sounds like a dead-end.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 12 at 8:52

The relevent German law, quoted below, states:

  • must have their domestic license plates.


  • license plates, not license plate number

So the real question is:

  • are these licence plates that can be used in the UK?

Since you have already come to the conclusion that these plates are not (UK) domestic license plates, it would be wise to come to the same conclusion in other countries that have a similar rule as in Germany (which will probably be true in most).

A further look into the quoted convention / agreement below may give further details as to whether this a general rule or should be regulated country by country.

§ 21 FZV - Einzelnorm
Kennzeichen und Unterscheidungszeichen
(1) In einem anderen Staat zugelassene Kraftfahrzeuge müssen an der Vorder- und Rückseite ihre heimischen Kennzeichen führen, die Artikel 36 und Anhang 2 des Übereinkommens vom 8. November 1968 über den Straßenverkehr, soweit dieses Abkommen anwendbar ist, sonst Artikel 3 Abschnitt II Nummer 1 des Internationalen Abkommens vom 24. April 1926 über Kraftfahrzeugverkehr entsprechen müssen.

(1) Motor vehicles registered in another country must have their domestic license plates on the front and back, Article 36 and Appendix 2 of the Convention of 8 November 1968 on Road Traffic, insofar as this Agreement is applicable, otherwise Article 3 Section II Number 1 of the International Agreement of April 24, 1926 on motor vehicle traffic.

  • Thank you for the advice. I think this explains perfectly The interesting bit would be to know whether these laws are enforced on foreign vehicles
    – Michael99
    Mar 21 at 13:22
  • @Michael99 Most police forces have a specialized 'Traffic police' department that watch out for vehicles that are not save for public roads. License plates checks are also done for stolen vehicles. Some of these are automated, so a computer may deside if it a valid UK plate. This could fail due to the unexpected font. In both cases it doesn't matter where it is registered: a unsave vehicle or a counterfeited license plate will result a reaction. Such a reaction could swiftly become very expensive. Mar 21 at 14:49

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