British registered vehicles must now display UK sticker when driven abroad

The change comes into force this week after the UK government informed the UN of a change of country designation.

Thursday 30th September 2021 – MIKE SMITH

On Tuesday 28th September, British registered cars driving in the EU will need to display a UK sticker, replacing the GB sticker that was previously required when Brits drove their vehicles abroad. This change has come into force after the British government registered “UK” as the new international symbol for traffic with the United Nations.

It is an international requirement for vehicles to clearly display their country of origin and fines could be issued by the police of the country in which the vehicle is being driven or, although unlikely, the vehicle could be denied entry into a European country.

The UN has confirmed that 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’”. Despite initial thoughts, the move is not directly a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU although it is part of the the country’s post-Brexit shake-up.

However, there has not yet been any official explanation, although it is thought that the change provides for the inclusion of Northern Ireland, since GB only refers to England, Scotland and Wales. A representative from the Department of Transport seemed to confirm this by explaining that “changing the national identifier from GB to UK symbolises our unity as a nation and is part of a wider move towards using the UK signifier across government”.

The UK government website explains that if a British-registered vehicle has a number plate with the UK identifier and the Union Flag, then nothing need be done. However, vehicles with a number plate that has a GB identifier and Union Flag, a Euro symbol, a national flag (England, Scotland, Wales) or numbers and letters only with no flag or identifier will now have to display the UK identifier and the GB identifier will have to be either removed or covered up. Perhaps most importantly for Spain, the UK identifier must be displayed, no matter what is on the vehicle’s number plate.