Dick Lovett

Green Number Plates and Electric Cars - all you need to know

Posted 26th October 2022

Updated on 24th November 2023

Green Number Plates and Electric Cars - all you need to know

Does my electric car need green number plates?

If you’ve been on the road and noticed that some vehicles have been fitted with green number plates, your eyes haven’t been deceiving you. 

Although they seem a new addition, green number plates for cars have actually been seen on UK roads for some time. They were officially launched in December 2020, intended to distinguish them from standard versions, as exclusive number plates for electric cars. 

The plates still follow the same protocol as standard versions – with a white background on front plates and yellow background on the rear. But they certainly do stand out. At first glance, it’s clear that these special electric car number plates are a bit different, quickly identifiable thanks to the vertical green flash on the left-hand side of the plate. This signals that it’s an electric car.


Why have green number plates for cars been introduced?

Well, it’s essentially part of a plan from the UK government to raise awareness – or continue to raise awareness – for electric vehicles, or zero-emission vehicles. 

They were launched as part of the UK Government’s ‘Road to Zero Emissions’ initiative which initially aimed to transition the country to all new cars sold being zero-emission vehicles by 2030. That deadline has since been revised to 80% of new cars sold in Great Britain to zero emission by 2030 – and 100% by 2035.

Porsche Taycan
Upon launch, then Transport Minister Rachel Maclean commented: “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.”

Getting specialist electric car number plates isn’t compulsory. It’s not law. Nothing will happen if your EV doesn’t have them. But, you might decide it’s worth having them fitted after considering the potential benefits a green number plate might bring.

Benefits of Green Number Plates for Electric Vehicle Owners

Getting a green number plate fitted to your EV is intended as a further incentive to buying an electric car in preference to a petrol or diesel model. While not all of these have been implemented yet, there is the potential to see benefits and initiatives that include cheaper parking, the use of bus lanes when driving and cost-free entry to zero-emission – or clean air – zones.

There are already a number of clean air or low emission zones in several major cities in the UK, with two in London, as well as Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford and Portsmouth. These zones may require you to pay a fee to drive into them, if your vehicle exceeds emission standards, but not if you drive an electric car.

MINI Electric
The presence of green number plates for electric cars means that a vehicle is easily identifiable when parked in EV-only parking spots, and travelling in zero congestion or ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) areas. 

However, it’s worth noting that you don’t have to have a green number plate to potentially benefit from cost savings, with many systems using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to identify an EV. 

Also, the responsibility for introducing benefits of green number plates for EV owners sits with local authorities and councils.

How much do Green Number Plates Cost?

If you want to buy green number plates for your car, though costs might vary slightly depending on where you purchase them from, they’re not particularly expensive. You can expect to pay around £36 for a pair – £18 for the front, and £18 for the rear.

However, you must buy the plates from an approved supplier – to find those nearest to you, the UK government has a handy search tool here.

Bristol Map   Electric BMW

Be advised that you can’t just order a number plate and buy it. Because these are exclusively electric car number plates, you’ll need to bring, or show, proof of EV ownership in the form of your vehicle’s V5C document, plus some ID, too. These requirements have been introduced because there have been cases of people buying green plates to fit on to petrol or diesel vehicles – perhaps to park in electric-only spots or evade paying congestion charges – which is illegal.

Where can I get Green Number Plates?

You have a couple of options if you want to get a green number plate. If you’re buying a new electric car – a BMW or a MINI, for example – you can ask your dealership to fit a green number plate. In any case, many new electric cars will already have a green plate fitted.

If you already own an electric car and it doesn’t have a green number plate, you can get one fitted. This isn’t just restricted to electric cars, but buses, vans, taxis, HGVs and motorcycles. However, the vehicle must be a pure electric model, with zero CO2 tailpipe emissions, to be eligible for a green number plate. You can’t get a green number plate if you have a hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicle.

Jaguar I PACE

Are there green number plates in other countries?

Yes. Currently, Norway, Hungary, China and Canada have similar green plate initiatives. All of these countries have reported an increase in EV sales since releasing these schemes.

Do you have more questions about electric cars? Read more EV news in our electric car hub and view the latest electric cars for sale from BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover and Range Rover, MINI and Porsche.

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