What does a green number plate mean?
Electric car being charged

In June 2020, the UK Transport Secretary announced that it was possible for electric cars to obtain a green number plate.

In our guide to green number plates, we explain who has green number plates, what cars have green number plates, how to get one and the reasons for and benefits of having one.

What does the green colour on a number plate mean?

Green number plates are part of the government incentive ‘Road to Zero Strategy’ in order to help make the UK more environmentally friendly and to hopefully phase out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.

The green on a number plate means that the car that it's fitted to produces zero tailpipe emissions, which is why only electric cars can benefit from having them.

Despite hybrids and plug-ins having electric motors, they’re not completely zero-emission, so you’ll only find green number plates on fully electric cars.

Are green number plates legal?

Green number plates aren’t a legal requirement for electric vehicles, but it is advisable to get one if you drive an electric car as it’s thought to help others switch to electric vehicles.

However, green number plates will now be issued and fitted as standard on most new electric vehicles, so if you really don’t want green number plates, you will have to notify your car dealership before the car is registered.

Reasons for having a green number plate

If you’re wondering whether there are any benefits to having a green number plate, then you wouldn’t be the first person to think that.

While it’s not a legal requirement to have a green number plate, there are certain advantages and reasons why you might want to consider getting one.

Firstly, it makes it easier for cars to be identified as zero-emission vehicles and while that might not matter to you too much, it can encouragelocal authorities to put measures and policies in place to help incentivise drivers to make the switch to an electric vehicle.

Some of the incentives could include things like cheaper parking for electric cars or access to bus lanes. While there’s nothing concrete to say that these changes will happen immediately, it is thought that it will be left to the discretion of local authorities to implement these kinds of changes if they see fit.

The government is also hopeful that green number plates will help to raise awareness of the positive impact that electric vehicles can have, in the hopes that more people choose to get an electric car over a petrol or diesel model.

However, green number plates alone probably aren’t enough to convince drivers to get an electric car. Instead, other incentives and more initiatives will be required such as long-term purchase incentives and more accessible charging points around the country to show drivers that it’s easy to recharge without worrying about running out of charge while driving.

You might like: Are electric cars cheaper to insure?

How much is a green number plate?

The cost of getting a green number plate depends on where you purchase it from.

For example, Halfords offer one number plate (front or back) for £18 and then a pair of plates for £36, so just £18 each. However, some green number plate providers charge £40+ for a pair of number plates.

As they’re not a legal requirement for electric cars, their only real use at the moment is for cosmetic purposes, so it’s entirely your choice as to whether you think they’re worth getting or not.

In the future, they might become compulsory to have on your electric vehicle, but for now, you don’t have to get them if you don’t want to. You can also choose to get just one for now, so either for the front white number plate or the rear yellow plate.

Does having a green number plate affect your car insurance or other related costs?

In theory, your car insurance shouldn’t be affected by having a green number plate.

However, some car insurance providers do sometimes charge more if you change your number plate to a private plate, but it usually depends on the provider and their terms and conditions.

Most insurers won’t class a change of number plate as a vehicle “modification”, but some insurers might, so it’s worth checking with your provider before you purchase a green number plate and then have to pay more for your insurance premiums. 

Learn more: 10 tips and tricks for cutting costs on your car insurance

When did the green number plate come into effect?

The green number plate initiative came into effect in December 2020 in the UK, so it’s still a relatively new concept but the government is hopeful that it will help to raise awareness of the benefits of getting an electric car and to encourage more people to do so.

Can I get a green number plate?

You can get a green number plate if you drive an electric car. Unfortunately, you won’t qualify for a green number plate if you drive a petrol or diesel vehicle or even a plug-in vehicle or hybrid; it must be a fully electric car to qualify for a green number plate.

How to get a green number plate

To apply for a green number plate, you can do so at any normal registered number plate supplier. You’ll have to provide your name and address and prove that you and your vehicle qualify for a green number plate.

It’s also worth noting that you should look out for number plate scams if you decide to get a green number plate and you should only purchase one from a notable provider. Many scammers are providing number plates without requiring proof that they are eligible, so it’s imperative that you get one from a reputable provider.

What countries have green number plates?

The UK isn’t the first country in the world to introduce green number plates, and countries such as China, Norway, Canada and Hungary are already part of the initiative to encourage drivers to switch to electric vehicles.

Related guides