Apart from the legal aspects of using the legal UK font and not messing with your plate to the extent that it would fail an MOT and get some extra Police attention, you need to make sure that you enter the correct characters otherwise it’s likely to cost you.

How often do we overhear a phone number being read out where someone says (the letter) ‘O’ and not ‘zero’.  Get your number plate wrong on a payment terminal or mobile phone app and, depending who the car park management company or the landlord is and you are likely to get a PCN through your letterbox.

Car Park Operators who are BPA (British Parking Association) AOS (Approved Operators Scheme) Members work to a code where, for minor errors a PCN should be cancelled on appeal and for  ‘Major Keying Errors’( where parking has been paid for), a restricted charge is made at no more than £20 to cover the operator’s costs.  For Car Park Operators not in the AOS scheme, may choose to insist that you have not paid for parking.


Do We Not Know Our Own Plates?

It’s not that simple.  A lot of the errors are likely to be caused by the fact that we use the same characters for an O (the letter) and a Zero.  Ditto with the number 1 and an I (the letter).  So, this adds an extra layer of challenges if a person is also at risk of speaking O (the letter) even though they may well know it’s a Zero.

ANPR Number plate recognition CE11VHKIn this example of a plate with the current UK system of syntax / format, the third and fourth digits are both number 1 and represent the date period of issue.


ANPR Number plate recognition SP19IDFIn this plate we have two identical characters.  Character #3 is the number 1 and character #5 is the letter I.




Competent ANPR systems firstly locate the number plate or the likely text, break each character down and identify it through commonly via a neural process with some other tricks.

When this is done a syntax checker validates the identical characters that we have on our UK plates and apply the known syntax rules to determine what is what.

Challenges can occur where there is a broad mix of international plates as some recognition systems do not cope as well with the need to identify a country of origin and this is where an ANPR might need its parameters tweaked a little.


Further Reading & Information

To read the BPA AOS code of practice click on this link



This series of articles will cover a range of key topics and challenges relating to especially workplace parking challenges and the introduction of ANPR to manage staff, visitor, deliveries etc to your site.

Some of the planned topics to be covered will include …

Corporate HQ / Campus Parking – Why You Need an ANPR Consultant

Multi-Tenanted Business Parking – Where do you Start?

Why You Need an ANPR Consultant

ANPR – The New Snake Oil?

Corporate HQ ANPR – Why You Need a Staff Car Park Policy

Is Your Car Park ANPR Ready?


The author of this article is Frank Thomson, Principal Consultant at COGTEX ANPR Consultants


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