GB stickers ditched for UK marker under new number plate law

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Switch to UK sticker comes nine months after drivers told GB plates were the new standard

Drivers heading to Europe from this week will need to make sure their car carries the right number plate and country sticker after a change in the law.

From Tuesday, 28 September the traditional GB sticker is being replaced by a UK one, with implications for drivers with new GB number plates as well as those with older EU-style plates.

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The change is the second alteration to number plate rules this year and is believed to be an effort to show “solidarity” with Northern Ireland in the wake of Brexit.

For the last 111 years, the GB sticker has been valid for cars from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, the GB stands for Great Britain, which includes England, Scotland and Wales but not Northern Ireland, while the United Kingdom is made up of all four nations.

Drivers heading to the continent will need to ensure they display the right number plate and sticker combination Drivers heading to the continent will need to ensure they display the right number plate and sticker combination
Drivers heading to the continent will need to ensure they display the right number plate and sticker combination | Shutterstock

The swap comes just nine months after the rules on which cars needed to display a GB sticker or magnet changed in the wake of Brexit.

In January, the Government changed the rules so that any vehicle with a number plate featuring the GB identifier and Union Flag did not need to display a separate GB sticker, while cars featuring a Scottish, Welsh or EU identifier did.

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At the time, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: “Brits will be able to drive on the Continent without GB stickers thanks to new reg plate with Union Flag and GB.”

Now, however, motorists with those GB plates will have to display a UK sticker as well or replace their plates with new UK ones. Drivers with EU, Scotland or Wales identifiers will also need to replace any GB sticker or magnet with a UK one before heading abroad.

While it promoted January’s change heavily, the Government has been less keen to advertise the latest changes.

The move was only revealed by the United Nations which said it had received “a notification stating that the United Kingdom is changing the distinguishing sign that it had previously selected for display in international traffic on vehicles registered in the United Kingdom, from ‘GB’ to ‘UK’”.

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