During the summer season, the Plates4Less team at VRM Swansea experienced a surge in inquiries regarding the legality of the GB/EU flag on number plates of British registered vehicles traveling to the continent. The GB/EU flag, once popular, is no longer being sold in the UK, leading to concerns among people who still display these number plates about their eligibility to drive in Europe, unless they incorporate an additional identifier.
“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,” explained number plate expert Antony Clark.
According to Antony Clark from Plates4Less, it’s not necessary to change your number plate; you simply need to remove the GB/EU flag if your vehicle is staying in the UK. “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.”
There are strict rules and regulations for UK number plates to ensure their road legality, including the font, spacing, and material. Legality concerns are justified, as an illegal number plate can result in fines of up to £1000 and potential MoT failure.
In the UK, you can still order legal number plates with a flag decoration on the left-hand side. A flag can be displayed on a small rectangle, which can also be used to show a green flash on low-emission vehicles. 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 serves a similar purpose as the EU flag did – it removes the need for an additional black and white UK sticker unless you are driving to Spain, Cyprus, or Malta. However, people are much less interested in getting a UK flag,” Antony explained. “Before Brexit, 21% of our customers ordered an EU flag. However, in 2023, only 5% of customers ordered the UK flag. It seems that some people preferred the EU flag, not just because it made it easier to drive outside of the UK, but because they liked the design of it.”
Antony also noted that owners of private number plates often choose flags to display their political allegiances, 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,” Antony continued. “We’ve got to tell them that we can’t legally supply those anymore for use on the roads.”
So, what’s now required to drive abroad? It depends on the 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. There are also other considerations, such as the compulsory requirement in certain areas to keep a warning triangle in your car.
Plates4Less recommends that motorists always check the specific requirements of the destination they are traveling to.