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Are you confused about number plates after Brexit?


Brexit, remember that? Well, the UK is rapidly on the road to departure from the EU and many people are pondering the implications this will have in their lives including number plates – UK Show Plates explains more.

Will Brexit impact UK number plates?

The reason this is a hot topic of conversation first off is the question of the flags.  At the moment, UK motorists are allowed to have one of four flags on their number plate:-

  • The Union Jack
  • The Cross of St. George
  • The Scottish Saltire
  • The Welsh Dragon

There is a fifth emblem which is not a flag and that is the Euro symbol.  For some people who are proudly displaying the Euro symbol, the big question is, can they still have it after the UK leaves Europe or will they have to have new plates made with one of the four flags or absent anything?

Image by Danny Lines on Unsplash

The motor industry view at the moment is that there shouldn’t be any legal obligation to remove the EU symbol from a number plate once the UK has officially left the European Union.  There are thousands of cars in the UK currently sporting plates with the EU symbol.  However, motorists ordering new plates are steering clear of it just in case it does become an official regulation to remove it from the display.

What about UK cars travelling in Europe?

The current DVLA guidelines state that if you have the EU symbol or the GB flag on your number plates whilst travelling in Europe, then you do not also need a GB sticker which is why so many motorists use the flags.  If you have number plates with one of the other flags then it must also indicate the country of origin so, for example, the Scottish Saltire would also have ‘SCO’ on the plate. Cars with plain number plates without a designated flag or the EU symbol must carry a GB sticker if they are driving in Europe.

What happens after Britain finally leaves the EU is anyone’s guess and it will be up to the DVLA to determine how to proceed.  It may well be that all cars are again required to carry a GB sticker if they venture onto the continent.

What about the format of UK number plates?

Number plate composition is usually a matter for a country’s internal legislation hence why there are so many different styles from nation to nation.  In the UK, number plate format is controlled by the DVLA and has nothing to do with European Union legislation so there are no planned changes to the format because of Brexit.

Are there any other changes ahead for UK plates?

The anticipated uptake of Electric Vehicles or EVs may bring one change to UK plates that could make other drivers green with envy.  The government is considering altering the number plate for EVs which makes them quickly and easily identifiable for local authorities who might want to promote zero-emission vehicles by allowing them to use bus lanes or offering free parking in city centres.  One of the proposals is a wholly green number plate or a registration plate with a green border or sideband.

The government is keen to introduce some sort of visual recognition because it feels that to do so would lead to an uptake in the use of EVs on the UK’s roads.  A similar licence plate scheme in Canada on a trial basis did lead to an increase in the number of Electric Vehicle registrations.  In Norway, Electric Vehicles are identified by an ‘e’ at the start of their number plate registration.  It could be something of a badge of honour for environmentally conscious motorists keen to advertise their green credentials.  The Department for Transport has piloted three potential green number plates designs and is taking industry-wide consultation as to which would be the best one to adopt.

Personalised Brexit number plates

For those motorists who voted for Brexit and who are keen to reinforce the point to others both in the UK and abroad, there has been a healthy trade in personalised registrations which capture the message.  One of the very best on offer is ‘T1 XRB’ which when viewed in the rearview mirror spells out Brexit, very clever.  Other smart numbers include ‘EU20 GON’ and ‘EU20 BRX’ and ‘EU20 BYE’ and ‘EU20 OUT’, popular amongst motorists as well as collectors who have an eye for the future and the possible value of these plates in years to come.  Since the Second World War, Brexit has been one of the most significant events in decades in the UK and these plates are sure to increase in price as the years go by.  Plates can be bought and held on certificate for up to ten years and then that certification can be renewed for a further ten years.

Is there a broader Brexit impact on UK motorists?

Certainly, many in the industry think that car prices will go up.  But will there be any other impact on the daily lives of the UK motorist?

If you are driving in Europe then you should carry your driving licence with you at all times.  You may also need an International Driving Permit (IDP) depending on your destination country and the countries that you are driving through.  An IDP can be bought from a Post Office for £5.50.

With regard to motor insurance, drivers will also need a motor insurance Green Card for their vehicle, caravan or trailer.  This Green Card demonstrates that your motor insurance policy covers the minimum legal insurance requirements for the country that you are travelling in or through.  Green Cards are issued by your motor insurer and you should allow around four weeks before you travel when you request one to allow the insurer enough time to process it so that it is definitely with you before you depart.  You may need multiple green cards depending on your number of vehicles; some countries require a Green Card for each separate vehicle so one for the car and one for the caravan or trailer.

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