Can My Car Fail MOT with a Broken Number Plate?


When it comes to getting your car through its MOT (Ministry of Transport) test, there are several factors to consider. One common question among car owners is whether a broken number plate can cause their vehicle to fail the MOT. In this article, we will explore this topic in detail and provide you with all the information you need.

The Importance of Number Plates

Number plates serve an essential purpose on our vehicles. They not only help identify and differentiate each vehicle on the road but also play a crucial role in law enforcement and road safety. Additionally, number plates are required by law to be clearly visible and in good condition.

MOT Requirements for Number Plates

During an MOT test, the condition of your car's number plate will be thoroughly inspected. The requirements for number plates can vary slightly depending on the country, but generally, the following criteria apply:

  • The number plate must be made of reflective material to ensure visibility in various lighting conditions
  • The characters on the number plate must be clearly legible and meet specific size and spacing requirements
  • The number plate must not be obscured by dirt, damage, or any other objects
  • The number plate should not have any unauthorized modifications or additions

It is important to note that these requirements are in place to ensure that number plates are easily readable by both humans and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems used by law enforcement agencies.

Can a Broken Number Plate Cause an MOT Failure?

If your car's number plate is broken, it could potentially lead to an MOT failure. The severity of the damage and its impact on the plate's visibility and legibility will determine whether it fails the test or not. Minor cracks or chips that do not affect the visibility of the characters may not result in a failure. However, if the damage is significant and hampers the plate's legibility or reflectivity, it is likely to be considered a failure.

It is worth mentioning that the decision to pass or fail a car's MOT is at the discretion of the tester. While some testers may be lenient with minor plate damage, others may strictly adhere to the guidelines. It is always best to ensure that your number plate is in good condition to avoid any potential issues during the test.

What Should You Do if Your Number Plate is Broken?

If you notice that your number plate is broken or damaged, it is advisable to get it repaired or replaced before your MOT test. There are various options available to you:

  1. Visit a specialist number plate supplier who can create a new plate for you. They will ensure that the plate meets all the necessary requirements and is correctly affixed to your vehicle.
  2. Consult a car dealership or garage for assistance in obtaining a replacement. They can guide you through the process and help you choose the right type of number plate for your vehicle.
  3. If the damage is minor, you may be able to repair it yourself using a number plate repair kit. These kits are readily available and come with instructions on how to fix cracks or chips in the number plate.

It is important to note that attempting to repair a number plate yourself is only recommended for minor damage. If the damage is severe or compromises the structural integrity of the plate, it is best to seek professional help and get it replaced.


While a broken number plate can potentially cause your car to fail its MOT test, it ultimately depends on the extent of the damage and the tester's discretion. To ensure a smooth and hassle-free MOT experience, it is always advisable to address any issues with your number plate in a timely manner. By ensuring that your number plate meets the necessary requirements and is in good condition, you can avoid unnecessary MOT failures and keep your vehicle roadworthy.

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