Why do some cars have a green number plate?

Are you following a car with green number plate and wonder why this is and what it means? Here we explain what the (relatively) new plates are all about and if they bring any perks for drivers sporting them.

Green number plate electric carEver wondered why some cars have a green number plate? We have the answer (Credit: Michael Movchin)

Why don't I know what green number plates are?

Don't worry, you are not alone in knowing what these plates are all about - research by the AA revealed a third of motorists have no idea, either.

What are the green number plates and what do they mean?

The introduction of the green registration for cars was announced in December 2020. They are only allowed to be fitted to cars that have zero emissions at the tailpipe.

This means that the only 100% battery-powered cars currently able to sport the eco-friendly registration colour - this excludes the likes of hybrid vehicles which do produce some emissions.

Cars powered by hydrogen cell will also be able to use them, but there are only a handful of these available to buyers at the moment.

What do the eco plates look like?

The registration panels are yellow and white just like standard versions, but they have a green box situated on the left of the registration letters and numbers.

It is also the case that they are made of more eco-friendly materials than their traditional counterparts which are typically acrylic.

Is it just private cars that can them?

No. The right to use them is open to all sorts of vehicles that meet the required zero emissions. This could include the likes of taxis, cars, vans, motor bikes - and even lorries.

Why did the government introduce them?

The government hopes they will promote the use of EVs and help to steer drivers away from diesel and petrol vehicles ahead of the cut-off date for new sales in 2030.

Rachel Maclean, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport,  said: “Not only will green number plates raise awareness of the increasing number of cleaner vehicles on our roads, they could also unlock a number of incentives for drivers. It’s clear there has never been a better time to make the switch to a zero-emission vehicle.”

Do green number plates have any benefits for me?

The use of the these plates is designed to make it easier for the likes of local authorities to instigate schemes that give reward drivers who own these eco-friendly vehicles.

Having these could make it easier for the management and enforcement of schemes such as electric cars being able to use bus lanes, or receiving discounts for parking and congestion charge zones.

Do I have to add green number plates to my car?

The use of green panels is not compulsory and there is no legal requirement to fit them to an EV if you own one. However, if you want to fit them to a car that qualifies, then you are free to do so.

Anyone who does change their current plates for the eco-coloured versions will need proof of ID and something such as the V5C document to prove you own the vehicle - and that it qualifies as a zero-emissions vehicle.

 
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