Many of us will be familiar with the white oval stickers or magnets with a black GB emblem found stuck to the back of cars. These are used to allow British motorists to take their vehicles outside the UK throughout Europe.
Earlier this year, it was announced that the GB sticker could be done away with in exchange for a new registration plate with a union flag and GB sign. However, the government has now decided that you’ll need to swap that GB for a new ‘UK’ version if you are planning a European road trip.
We’ll explain what’s happened and why you need a UK sticker when driving abroad below.
Why the new UK sticker?
The UN said it had received “a notification stating that the United Kingdom is changing the distinguishing sign that it had previously selected for display in international traffic on vehicles registered in the United Kingdom, from ‘GB’ to ‘UK’”.
In the face of post-Brexit trade tensions, it’s rumoured that this change is a nod from the government towards solidarity and strives to include the motorists from Northern Ireland (NI). This is because GB or Great Britain includes England, Scotland and Wales but does not include NI.
What sticker should I use when driving abroad?
If you are taking your UK registered car overseas, you’ll need to display the UK logo at the back of the vehicle. This can be done by using a magnetic emblem or sticker. You may also choose to update your registration plate for one with the UK identifier.
Do I have to change my GB registration plates?
The short answer is No! You don’t need to change your current license plates, but you will need to ensure that you have a separate sticker or logo displayed clearly at the back of your vehicle. This rule also applies to any registration plates which have an EU flag; or those with the national flags of Wales, England or Scotland.
What happens if I don’t have the sticker?
Drivers, if stopped by the police, can be fined. Just remember, traffic rules vary from country to country, as do the potential fines and penalties. Anyone taking their car to Malta, Cyprus or Spain has to display a UK sticker regardless of what is on the registration plate.
Are there any exceptions?
If you’re driving in the Republic of Ireland, you don’t need to worry about the rules.
What am I allowed on my number plate?
According to Department for Transport, you can have the following flags:
· Union flag or Union Jack
· Cross of St George
· Cross of St Andrew (the Saltire)
· Red Dragon of Wales
National Identifies or letters:
· UNITED KINGDOM, United Kingdom or UK
· GREAT BRITAIN, Great Britain or GB
· CYMRU, Cymru, CYM or Cym
· ENGLAND, England, Eng, Eng
· SCOTLAND, Scotland, SCO or Sco
· WALES or Wales
The Department of Transport also advises that any flag must be above your national identifier or letters. Neither the flag nor letters should be on the number plate margin, and neither of these can be more than 50 millimetres wide.
You may not be planning on travelling around Europe imminently. However, it’s essential to add getting a UK emblem to your travel prep checklist when driving abroad.