3 Sep, 2021 @ 10:45
1 min read

Post-Brexit UK government forces British drivers in Spain to make changes to show “unity as a nation”

Woman Driving

BEFORE Brexit, British number plates would feature the circle of EU stars with the letters ‘GB’ underneath it, simplifying and standardising travel abroad with a UK-registered car.

On January 31 of this year, transport secretary Grant Shapps unveiled the redesigned more patriotic number plate which displayed the ‘GB’ under a Union flag – needlessly signifying that Great Britain was no longer in the EU.

Less than 12 months later, the 111-year-old tradition will change, whereby the initials will now have to show ‘UK’, not ‘GB’, from September 28.

Updated information from the Government’s own website states that after that date:

You will need to display a UK sticker clearly on the rear of your vehicle if your number plate has any of the following:

  • a GB identifier with the Union flag (also known as the Union Jack)
  • a Euro symbol
  • a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales
  • numbers and letters only – no flag or identifier

If your number plate includes the UK identifier with the Union flag (also known as the Union Jack), you do not need a UK sticker.

If you’re in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you must display a UK sticker no matter what is on your number plate.

If you have a GB sticker, cover or remove it.

A spokesman for the British Department for Transport said: “Changing the national identifier from GB to UK symbolises our unity as a nation and is part of a wider move towards using the UK signifier across government.”

“GB number plates will still be valid within the EU as long as drivers display a UK sticker on the rear of their vehicle.”

Clearly displaying the country of origin of your vehicle is an international requirement and if you are stopped by police without one you can be issued with an on-the-spot fine.

Drivers coming to mainland Europe from the UK also need to put correctors on their headlights, with Spanish law stating all motorists must carry with them an emergency triangle and a high-vis fluorescent vest.

READ MORE: BREXIT: Spain extends validity of UK driving licences until October 31

Simon Wade

Fifty-something writer, traveller, F1 enthusiast and radio presenter, working hard on the Costa Blanca South. Email me on [email protected]


  1. More anti-brexit snark here from the editor – get over it. The reason they are using the UK badge now is because GB (Great Britain) does not include Northern Ireland – it never did. And what is wrong with the UK wanting to ‘symbolise as a nation’? Surely, Spain does, or perhaps you agree that Catalonia should be independent?

    Location : Spain
  2. Anti-vax brexiters always seem so irritated when the idiocy of brexit is illustrated by more daft, xenophobic regulations. Having read this article over again, no “snark” is detectable, it is simply straightforward reportage.
    As for “unity as a nation” tell that to the Scots!

    Location : malaga
  3. Interesting, Stefanjo. The UK is ‘xenophobic’ for making drivers put UK on their cars when they’re going abroad, but Spain isn’t xenophobic for making drivers put E on their cars even when they’re not going abroad. And the 26 other nations (oops, my bad) the 26 other ‘provinces’ of the United States of Europe must also be xenophobic for making their drivers put their own letters on their cars even when they’re not going abroad.

    OMG! How hateful of you! Anti-vax brexiters? Now ‘that’ is pure snark… as are the first two paragraphs of the article. As for the Scots: they should be independent… as should Catalonia… as should the 27 remaining ‘provinces’ of the United States of Europe.

    Location : Spain

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