During the summer season, VRM Swansea’s Plates4Less team has seen an uptick in inquiries regarding the legality of the GB/EU flag on number plates for British registered vehicles traveling to the continent. It’s important to note that the popular GB/EU Number Plate flag is no longer available for sale in the UK, and individuals still displaying these plates may not automatically meet the requirements for driving in Europe, unless they incorporate an additional identifier.
Antony Clark, a number plate expert from Plates4Less, elaborated on the situation, stating, “With people going on holiday and realising that the old GB/EU plate no longer qualifies them to drive abroad, we’ve seen a rise in existing customers asking us if it’s still legal to use their number plates in the UK or worrying that they might fail their MoT.”
Clark emphasises that it’s not necessary to change your entire number plate if your vehicle remains in the UK; you can simply remove the GB/EU flag. “While we are no longer allowed to supply new number plates with the GB/EU flag, it is still perfectly legal to drive with these number plates in the UK.”
However, it’s crucial to adhere to strict rules and regulations governing UK number plates to ensure their road legality. Factors such as font, spacing, and material all play a role in their legality. Using an illegal number plate can result in fines of up to £1000 and could lead to a failed MoT test.
In the UK, you can still order legal number plates with a flag decoration on the left-hand side. Flags can be displayed on a small rectangle, which can alternatively be used to display a green flash on low-emission vehicles. The flags currently allowed include the Union Jack, the Cross of Saint George, the Cross of Saint Andrew, and the Red Dragon of Wales.
“The UK number plate flag now functions similarly to the EU flag, eliminating the need for an additional black and white UK sticker unless you are driving to Spain, Cyprus, or Malta,” explains Antony. “Despite this, people are much less interested in getting a UK flag.” He notes that before Brexit, 21% of customers ordered an EU flag, but in 2023, only 5% ordered the UK flag. Some individuals preferred the EU flag not only because it made international travel easier but also due to its design.
Antony also mentions that private number plate owners often choose flags to express their political affiliations, even if they have no plans to drive abroad. “Some clients proudly and consciously opt for the newer UK flag, but others request the old EU plates to show their love for the EU. We’ve got to tell them that we can’t legally supply those any longer for use on the roads.”
So, what’s required to drive abroad now? It depends on the specific country you’re visiting. You may need either a UK sticker or a new set of plates with a UK flag, or in some countries, both. Other factors, such as the requirement to carry a warning triangle in your car, should also be considered.
Plates4Less advises motorists to always check the individual requirements of the country they plan to visit.