New driving laws require motorists to check number plates and vehicle registration

Busy motorway

The initial consultation took place between June and July 2021

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 13/10/2023

- 09:09

The changes are designed to make motoring administration easier for drivers

Six new law changes have been introduced to deal with issues of people towing trailers and caravans, with drivers warned of number plate rules and trailer registrations.

The Department for Transport and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) launched a consultation on the UK trailer registration scheme between June and July 2021.

The trailer registration scheme was first introduced across the UK in March 2018 to enable trailer owners to avoid potential enforcement action when used abroad.

Six amendments were put forward, with the consultation being sent to some of the UK’s most prominent motoring organisations like the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the RAC and the Caravan and Motorhome Club.

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The first amendment impacts number plates and specifies that all plates must use the same Charles Wright font, with little resistance to introducing new measures that would affect existing vehicles.

There was only one objection which called for a change to number plates to allow for more space to include information about the environmental credentials of the trailer when travelling in Europe.

All respondents also supported the amendment to remove the requirement for inspection of a trailer to only be carried out at a designated testing station.

This will offer flexibility to trailer owners and users, with experts focusing on ensuring there are enough locations as well as seeking criteria for the types of inspections that should be made.

The Government is also looking to abolish the further trailer inspection fee following an appeal, which usually costs £39.

One of the responses suggested that those inspecting the trailers do not incur a financial or administrative burden after a test.

Following the conclusion of the consultation and in consideration of the changes, the DfT and DVLA introduced the Trailer Registration (Amendment) Regulations 2021.

As part of this, the maximum waiting period for when a driver can get renewed trailer documentation has been slashed from one year to just six months.

The new timeframe is seen as being more appropriate, given the 10-year registration validity period, allowing motorists to renew with suitable reminders.

There was also majority support for the fifth amendment to add trailer-type details when registering a trailer.

The Government response states: “There was a view that the list of trailers should be standardised to ensure consistency in the registration process and trailer descriptions.

“One respondent sought for all existing registrations to be updated to include this information within a six-month period.

“The one objection sought for the scheme to be made mandatory to cover all trailers and to particularly identify where trailers had power derived from diesel generators.”

One example of this could be a refrigerated trailer potentially falling foul of Clean Air Zone rules when driving in certain cities.


Number plate

The new amendments require number plates to use the same font


The final amendment looks to change registration regulations so that mechanically propelled vehicles and towed vehicles cannot also be registered as trailers.

This would include a small car that may be towed behind a motorhome using an A-frame device. Under the amendment, this could not be registered as a trailer.

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