Rude acronyms slip by DVLA onto our number plates

THEY are colourful acronyms which have become part of every­day speech – on the internet and in text messages at least.

Off fender offenders: Some of the registration plates which carry acronyms used widely on social media and likely to amuse or offend in equal measure
Off fender offenders: Some of the registration plates which carry acronyms used widely on social media and likely to amuse or offend in equal measure

But certain modern slang words have escaped the stringent checks implemented by Britain’s driving authorities to ensure that vehicle number plates do not include rude words.

A study has found that a number of choice acronyms are slipping through the net, despite DVLA checks to stop swear words from appearing on ­Britain’s roads.

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According to car-buying website, shortened phrases used in every day conversation such as “WTF” and “FML” are regularly appearing on personalised car registration plates. Other acronyms, including 1MAO are also available.

The findings reveal that nearly a third of road users claim to have noticed a number plate because it had something rude on it.

The DVLA recently released a list of prohibited letter-digit combinations including anything alcohol-related, religious or sexually crude, however many indecent phrases or acronyms are still making their way through the screening process seemingly unnoticed.

Included in the banned phrases, reconsidered every six months by members of a DVLA steering group, are VA61ANA, P15 OFF and WA15 TED. Licence plates are withheld on the grounds of political, racial and religious sensitivities or simply because they are regarded as being in poor taste.

According to the survey, seven in ten motorists say they are aware what WTF stands for – but using the DVLA personalised registrations checker, you can buy number plates with WTF featuring in the letter-digit combinations. Similarly, nearly a quarter of motorists say they know what FML stands for – however, you can buy DVLA approved number plates featuring this acronym.

Plates currently available on the DVLA’s personalised numberplate website include AFO2 WTF, which is on sale for £250 and GO65 WTF for £799, as well as D1 FML for £999.

The report also found that one in ten people has a personalised number plate, however of these, 9 per cent are not registered with the DVLA.

Kate Rose, spokeswoman for, said: “Private number plates have always divided opinion – love them or hate them it’s important that if you do have a personalised number plate you understand what you’re letting yourself in for.”

“It’s interesting to note that one in ten drivers on British roads claims to have a private number plate – and that a number of these aren’t registered with the DVLA. These number plates can be quite costly – in the short term when actually buying the number plate and in the long run when selling the car.”

The study found that more than a third of people say they would be put off buying a car if the number plate looked offensive, while nearly a fifth say they wouldn’t buy a car with a private plate because you cannot be sure how old the car is.

Ms Rose added: “Anyone buying a number plate should consider the purchase carefully; whilst they might think it will add value to the car when it comes to selling it, it’s not surprising to see people can be put off buying a car with a private plate.”

The DVLA refused to comment.