During the summer season, VRM Swansea’s Plates4Less team encountered a surge in inquiries regarding the legality of the GB/EU flag on number plates of British-registered vehicles traveling to the continent. The once-popular GB/EU Number Plate flag is no longer available in the UK, and individuals still displaying these number plates do not automatically meet the qualifications to drive in Europe unless they incorporate an additional identifier.
Antony Clark, a number plate expert from Plates4Less, explained, “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.”
According to Clark, it is not necessary to change your number plate entirely if your vehicle remains in the UK; you simply need to 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.”
Strict rules and regulations govern UK number plates to ensure their road legality. Factors such as font, spacing, and material all contribute to their legal status. An illegal number plate can result in fines of up to £1000 and may cause you to fail your MoT.
In the UK, it is still possible to order legal number plates featuring a flag decoration on the left-hand side. Flags can be displayed on a small rectangle, which can also be used to showcase a green flash on low-emission vehicles. Currently permitted flags include the Union Jack, the Cross of Saint George, the Cross of Saint Andrew, and the Red Dragon of Wales.
Antony explained, “The UK number plate flag now serves the same purpose the EU flag used to – it eliminates the need for an additional black and white UK sticker unless you are driving to Spain, Cyprus, or Malta. Despite this, people are much less interested in getting a UK flag.” Before Brexit, 21% of customers ordered an EU flag, but in 2023, only 5% opted for the UK flag. Some individuals prefer the EU flag not only for its practicality but also for its design.
Additionally, many private number plate owners choose flags to display their political affiliations, even without plans to drive abroad. Antony mentioned, “Some clients proudly and consciously choose the newer UK flag, but others request the old EU plates to show their love for the EU.” However, suppliers can no longer provide the old EU plates for road use.
The requirements for driving abroad vary depending on the destination country. It may entail a UK sticker, a new set of plates with a UK flag, or both. Additionally, some countries have other mandatory items, such as a warning triangle.
Plates4Less advises motorists to always check the specific requirements of the country they plan to visit.