How To Identify a Fake Car Plate Number

Car plate numbers, also called license plates, are essential to protect car owners as well as the rest of the population from car crime.  Here is how to recognize a fake car plate number if you doubt its authenticity.

  • Automatic number plate recognition. This makes use of specialized cameras that scan car plates so that policemen, traffic enforcers and toll collectors can monitor cars easily. Though these cameras can capture fleeting images, they don't recognize a car plate that is different from a standard car plate. Because of this, a law was passed to ensure that car plate numbers (including vanity plates) will be printed in a standard font, color and size. If the camera doesn't recognize the plate, then it is most likely to be forged.
  • Different front and rear number plates. Most vehicles are required to have front and rear number plates, except for motorcycles, which have only one plate number fastened to the back. Front and rear plates must be identical to avoid confusing authorities. If it is not, then one is probably faked, or they may both be faked in order to evade the law.
  • Poor quality of print. Genuine car plate numbers are made of quality materials to withstand wear and tear. Fake ones are usually designed with cheap materials, and the paint would show signs of fading, scratching, and peeling when time goes by.
  • Inconsistency in design. Genuine car plate numbers would have elaborate designs to ensure that forgers would have a hard time copying them. Forgers are prone to make errors in making the design, as well as leave some details out. They may also get the wrong layout and format altogether.
  • Unusual font. As mentioned above, there is a required standard in font, color and size for the car plate number. You will spot a fake by closely inspecting the font. Examine if the style used is exactly the same as the standard, if the size is appropriate or is off by a few millimeters, and if the color is even and at the right hue.
  • Analyze the format. Standard license plates follow a format: the letter prefix tells the year when the plate is released and this should coincide with the year the model of the car is available. With fake license plates, there may be newer cars with ‘old' plates, and vintage cars with ‘modern' ones. You can find the format in the National Number's website at Take note: vanity plates, also named as cherished plates, usually do not adhere to this pattern and are given by the private owners of the cars.
  • Consult with the DMV. The Department of Motor Vehicles has a database of car plate numbers and vehicles with valid registration. They also record the VIN number, or Vehicle Identification Number, of registered cars. Check whether the VIN, which is printed on the plate, is genuine and matches the attributes of the car (see The DMV has a lot of branches, and you could contact them through their websites. Just type ‘DMV' in your Internet search engine to find a website and contact them.
  • Have it verified with the DVLA. The DVLA, or Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, is responsible for car registration and license plates registration. They also record details such as the model and make of the car, the color, the year it is made, and so on. If the car plate number is not registered, or if it is registered with a different car, or if there is another car plate number that is exactly the same as it is, then it is fake. You can reach them through their website at

Keep these tips in mind when you are inspecting the validity of a car plate number.  Consult the authorities to confirm your findings.


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