The Status of GB/EU Number Plates on UK Vehicles After Brexit: Are They Still Legal?

During the summer season, VRM Swansea’s Plates4Less team has witnessed a surge in inquiries regarding the legality of GB/EU flag number plates on British-registered vehicles traveling to the continent. The once-popular GB/EU flag on number plates is no longer available in the UK, leading to concerns among those who still display these plates about their eligibility to drive in Europe without additional identifiers.

Number plate expert Antony Clark 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.”

Clark clarified that it’s not necessary to change the entire number plate; rather, the GB/EU flag can be removed if the vehicle remains in the UK. He emphasised that it is still entirely legal to drive with number plates bearing the GB/EU flag within the UK. However, it’s crucial to ensure that UK number plates comply with strict regulations regarding font, spacing, and material. Illegal number plates can result in fines of up to £1000 and potential MoT failures.

In the UK, legal number plates can still feature a flag decoration on the left-hand side. The allowed flags 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 serves a similar purpose to the previous EU flag, eliminating the need for an additional black and white UK sticker when driving to most European countries.

However, the preference for the UK flag appears to be lower compared to the EU flag in terms of customer orders. Before Brexit, 21% of customers ordered EU flag number plates, whereas in 2023, only 5% ordered the UK flag. Some individuals may have favored the EU flag not only for its practicality when driving abroad but also for its design.

Antony Clark noted that owners of private number plates sometimes choose flags to display their political affiliations, even without plans to drive abroad. While some opt for the UK flag, others continue to request the old EU flag, which is no longer legally supplied for road use.

To drive abroad, the requirements vary depending on the destination country. Motorists may need a UK sticker, a new set of plates featuring a UK flag, or both. Additionally, some countries have specific regulations, such as the compulsory requirement to carry a warning triangle in the vehicle.

Plates4Less advises motorists to always check the specific requirements of the country they plan to visit.

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