New-Style UK Number Plates and Driving Licenses Unveiled
January 1st was the first anniversary of Brexit and the end of the transition period. To mark the occasion, the government has unveiled the new designs for UK number plates and driving licenses. With the departure of the UK from the European Union, the EU flag will be replaced by the Union Flag.
While number plates and licences with the EU flag will still be valid, all drivers applying for new or replacement ones from January 1st 2021 will be issued with the new versions. On licences, the EU flag in the top left-hand corner will be replaced with ‘UK’ and the Union Flag will be displayed on the right-hand side.
New number plates will have the Union Flag on the left-hand side with ‘GB’ beneath. On the newly available plates for electric vehicles, the flag and country identifier will appear on the green bar on the left-hand side.
Rules Eased for UK Drivers in Europe
The introduction of the new UK number plates and licences coincides with the start of many agreements made between the UK and EU member states that make driving in Europe easier for British drivers. It had been feared that motorists would be required to apply for one or more International Driving Permits (IDP) and display a GB sticker.
In line with the agreements, an IDP will not be required for driving in any of the 27 member states, along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland if you have a UK photocard licence. Additionally, you won’t need to display a GB sticker in most EU countries if your number plates have GB on them. The exceptions are Cyprus, Malta and Spain where you must display a GB sticker.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said,
“Changing the designs of our driving licences and number plates is a historic moment for British motorists, and a reassertion of our independence from the EU one year on from our departure.
“Looking to the future, whether it’s for work or for holidays abroad, these changes mean that those who want to drive in the EU can continue to do so with ease.”
Other National Flags Are Not Covered by Agreements
Unfortunately, the national flags and country identifiers of the individual nations of the UK are not included in the agreements with EU states. You can still have number plates with the Cross of St George, the Cross of St Andrew (Saltire) or the Red Dragon of Wales, but for driving in Europe you will need to display a GB sticker.
The same applies to plates with the EU flag and symbol displayed. While existing EU plated will remain legal, they are no longer being issued since the end of the transition period.
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