Why Do People Blur License Plates in the UK?

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Take a look at Google Maps Street View in Europe, and you should see the faces and license plates blurred out. In fact, blurring license plates and faces is part of Google's Street View policy

They do their best to blur. But in Europe, privacy has come up as a big priority on the web. People are worried about privacy breaches leading to burglary, bribery, and other crimes. Hence Europe's new GDPR privacy policy to crack down further on privacy invasion on the internet. 

So you ask: Why do people blur license plates? The answer is privacy. It may seem difficult but standard license plates in the EU can reveal detailed information about a person from the way they are formatted.

Online, digital images are supposed to be blurred. On the street, you can't hide your plate. 

Enter privacy plates; otherwise known as personal or vanity plates. Let's take a look at why they're so popular. 


The Point of Automobile License Plates 

The whole point of automobile license plates is to identify your car and you as the owner. License plates were first made for horse-drawn carriages and introduced in the late 1890s in France. They then spread over Europe and came to be in the States in New York in 1901.

Early plates in the U.S. used initials and many were handmade. Now, you might think putting your initials on the car as identification does the opposite of guarding privacy, but people were happy with this turn when it became mandatory because it standardised the law for vehicles and made everything easier! You knew which laws pertained to you.

So, the intention of license plates has always been practical. Plates are useful and keep the system running smoothly with law enforcement, road taxes, and all administration related to vehicles.

It's only when the information is used for wrong-doing or, perhaps, other personal gain, that there's a problem. And with the dawn of digital images, the web, and other tech, the worry is that license plate data can easily get into the wrong hands.


License Plates in the EU

License plates in the EU were standardised across countries in 1998 by the Council Regulation. This makes the information easily identifiable. 

The EU laws are strict and work smoothly between countries. The standard is as follows from left to right across the plate:

  • Country identifier, optional (GB for Great Britain, for example)
  • Area code
  • Age
  • Random numbers

With cameras in cities and all over the roads, these plates are easy to read. A plus is that this makes it much more efficient to catch traffic violators, even across so many countries and with a huge database of information. 

No two plates across the EU have the same information on the license. Each one is unique! This isn't the case in the United States, by the way, since licenses are issued by each state and the numbers/letters can be the same between states. 


The Beauty of Privacy Plates

Your plates are always going to reveal your identity to the people and departments that manage vehicles, safety, and traffic regulations. That's their purpose, they're on record, and even if the information is blurred online, it won't help.

But if you have a unique personal plate, it will make it more difficult for someone to identify you and your whereabouts by your plates if not blurred digitally or if simply seen on the street.

They won't be able to see your country of origin (if it's on there) or the age of your vehicle (the year registered on the plate). This lets you pretend your vehicle is more "vintage" and cool than it is or allude to it being newer than it is.

Besides the beauty of having a bit more privacy with your plate, some enjoy the literal beauty of a word, phrase, or idea on a vanity plate or the fact that it's like a piece of art if it's a vintage collectible like those with just one number and one letter!


A Great Investment

And the price is a beaut too! Which brings us to another reason people love vanity plates: Their value tends to rise so they're a great investment.

But remember, you can get reasonably priced privacy plates too so this is totally doable!

The plates in the UK that you saw with one letter and one number are called "two-digit plates" even though one of the names digits is a letter. There are also three-digit plates. 

You surely noticed the high price. This price usually goes up with time as it just makes your plate older and more valuable. So no matter what your reason for buying an older plate, especially these really old and original one, you'll be getting an investment that's likely to grow in value. 

Some people literally get privacy plates for the investment.


A Fun, Unique Look That's Pure Vanity

Some people get privacy/vanity plates for the sole reason of having their cars look original and cool. These plates are unique and can feature beautiful, hip, funny, and other types of words, if not already taken. 


Why Do People Blur License Plates? Same Reason They Get Privacy Plates

Still wondering why do people blur license plates? Wonder no more. The answer is privacy, as you've learned. And this is why so many people get privacy plates. They don't want people to track their identity and their location and activity by their car.

And while they're at it, people get many other perks with their personal plates, including value and joy at having something unique.

Considering getting a unique number plate to bump up your privacy or investment portfolio or just because it suits you? Give us a ring today! We have an enormous assortment of number plates, and we're here to help you find the one that's just right for you.