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As I understood it, EU-style number plates, with the small "GB" in the blue end panel on the left, was only ever an internal EU-approved adoption in lieu of the proper internation letters on a separate sticker, so that if you went outside the EU (eg to Morocco) the requirement to have the separate black-on-white eliptical national indicator still applied. The formal international obligation even within the EU contiued to be to display the separate black-on-white GB sticker all along. I switched my MH number plates to non-EU (just the registration number) style and attached a separate white sticker during Summer 2019 in order to be ahead of the game for Brexit, in case the French started playing officious games.


In the wake of Brexit, as we are now that 2021 has arrived, the formal legal requirement remains the same but it nice to hear that the EU are not planning to make a fuss anyway, so that those of us who would like to stick to EU-style numberplates, if only to avoid having to buy new ones, may coninue to do so. Buying separet "GB" stickers was a matter of pence rather than pounds as long as you didn't leave it until the last minute on the ferry or at the Eurotunnel Terminal.

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I live in N. Ireland, so don’t display a GB plate as I don’t live in GB but do live in the UK. I display an NI plate although these have no technical approval. It does confuse the Dutch however as the rear plate is yellow, but they don’t seem to know the difference between an I and an L.

I also display an IRE plate as I (like every other NI citizen) can hold an Irish passport. It will be interesting to see what happens at Cherbourg as my UK registered van will be driven by dual passport holders. There are so many northern vans using Dublin Cherbourg, I assume the French police and customs will ignore us, particularly since we are in this curious no mans land of part EU and part UK. For instance we will not be subject to duty free allowances on return to N. Ireland directly from an EU state.



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StuartO - 2021-01-02 12:02 PM


As I understood it, EU-style number plates, with the small "GB" in the blue end panel on the left, was only ever an internal EU-approved adoption.

The EU plate had a EU flag of a ring of stars on the EU plates.


StuartO - 2021-01-02 12:02 PM


In the wake of Brexit, as we are now that 2021 has arrived, the formal legal requirement remains the same but it nice to hear that the EU are not planning to make a fuss anyway, so that those of us who would like to stick to EU-style number plates,l.

Its Now ok when changed to the Union Flag instead of the EU flag as Les W's picture shows

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But the BBC wording is a mite less than clear: "The rules for GB stickers are that you need one unless your number plate has GB on it, either alone or alongside a union flag. If the GB is alongside an EU flag or the flag of England, Scotland or Wales then you still need a GB sticker."


Regarding Les's arrangement, the presence of the authorised (black lettering on white background) "GB" sticker negates the need for any further national identification, so the additions to his regulation registration plate, although legal in the UK, are strictly irrelevant to driving outside the UK. The GB sticker complies with the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic and is the officially recommended national identification plate that is to be added to the rear of all vehicles post Brexit, whatever else may be contained within the left hand margin of the vehicle registration plate. This is from page 11 of the updated DVLA publication "INF104" downloadable here: https://tinyurl.com/ydbxyfg7

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Is there an official standard, colour/size, requirement for the GB sticker?

And is there a requirement for where it should be stuck? - high/low/left/right?


Looking at how many are stuck on would suggest there are no requirements, or that they are not generally policed.


I always remove all stickers from my vehicles (they are mostly advertising or dealers/suppliers) and make my own GB stickers from fablon type materials - various colours to match the vehicle. (For various reasons I have a load of samples of fablon - I don't have a sticky back plastic fetish!)





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The officially accepted national identification "GB" plate is as illustrated in Les's 2 January 2021 2:41 PM post above. This is the internationally recognised format as set down in the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic 1968: see here: https://tinyurl.com/ybo9xmun


It is unlikely (though not impossible :-)) that any alternative format would result in prosecution, 'though it might be thrown into the mix were you stopped for some other infraction. Available from most motor factors, AA, RAC, Halfords, etc.


The alternative without a separate sticker is to change the number plates as shown in witzend's post above of 2 January 2021 5:05 - with, or without, the union flag. In this case both front and rear plates must be changed.


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Here you go: from the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic 1968, Annex 3:




1. The distinguishing sign referred to in Article 37 of this Convention shall consist of one to three letters in capital Latin characters.


2. When the distinguishing sign is displayed separately from the registration plate, it must conform to the following conditions:


(a) The letters shall have a height of at least 0.08 m and their strokes a width of at least 0.01 m. The letters shall be in black on a white background having the shape of an ellipse with the major axis horizontal. The white background may be of a retro-reflective material;


(b) When the distinguishing sign consists of only one letter, the major axis of the ellipse may be vertical;


© The distinguishing sign shall not be affixed in such a way that it could be confused with the registration number or impair its legibility;


Halfords? :-)

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Bought our 'van April 2019. Don't need to remind you when the referendum was. Rear numberplate has EU circle of stars and GB below. Have looked in vain for a sticker of right size to cover it over, much as I wish i could have been able to keep what I've got......


BTY, why "GB"? Thought we were UK, short for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. What do people from NI put on their rear ends?

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Doh.... I should have known that some civik srrvant with nothing better to do would have spent tax payers money to spend time drawing up a detailed spec!

I might just make a small sticky back sticker to go over the EU stars on the number plate with a Union flag and small GB.

I have the time and materials ...Sorry Halfords!

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Regarding the overall size of the ‘sticker’


On motor cycles and their trailers, the dimensions of the axes of the ellipse shall be at least 0.175 m and 0.115 m. On other motor vehicles and their trailers, the dimensions of the axes of the ellipse shall be at least:


(a) 0.24 m and 0.145 m if the distinguishing sign comprises three letters;


(b) 0.175 m and 0.115m if the distinguishing sign comprises less than three letters.


So - for an oval GB sticker, the MINIMUM overall size should be 175mm (width) x 115mm (top to bottom).


Number-plate ‘stickers’ carrying a Union Jack are widely advertised on-line (GOOGLE on “gb union jack sticker” and example here)




though I don’t know if they are the right size and (despite what the advert claims) I’ve some doubts about the legality of modifying a number-plate in this manner.


This 2019 webpage






Northern Ireland is not a part of Great Britain - which is made up of England, Scotland and Wales - but the GB sticker is used for cars from all parts of the UK.


Having said that, “NI” stickers are also advertised on-line





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I am a citizen of N. Ireland, there is an almost 50/50 split in those who wish to be seen as Irish (and hope for a United ireland) and those who see them selves as British. This scenario has led to many differences in our part of the UK.


We have had photo card driving licences since at least 1970, these were a form of Identification during roadchecks by police and army in the troubles. They did not carry a Union flag on them in case this would offend those of a nationalist aspiration.


Our vehicle number plates are probably the only ones in Europe not to have the EU stars on them because the letters UK would not be accepted.


We have dual nationality should we choose it. Many nationalists refuse to hold a UK passport and also put an IRE sticker on their vehicle. Many Unionists will only hold a UK passport and many pragmatic people, myself included hold both for whatever benefits this may confer.


Just as Welsh, Scottish and English people (or indeed Cornish) are proud of their heritage and display stickers to demonstrate this, we in N. Ireland do the same.


I am British/Irish but feel no allegiance to either country but to N.Ireland so I display an NI sticker (UK citizen but not from GB) and I also display an IRE sticker so that when on the continent I am not mistaken for British.


There are loads of other differences as we are now subject to as a result of the vote to leave the EU and the subsequent deal.


This post is simply for information and should not be read as an invitation to engage in a political discourse.


See also my other post on this subject yesterday.



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Conrad - 2021-01-03 1:54 PM

BTY, why "GB"? Thought we were UK, short for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. What do people from NI put on their rear ends?

The country codes were allocated by international convention, and GB was assigned to what was the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in or around (from memory) 1910, prior to the 1927 cessation of what is now the Republic of Ireland.


Legally, GB is the correct international code for vehicles registered in Northern Ireland, as it is for the rest of the United Kingdom, whilst IRL is the code allocated to vehicles registered in the Republic.

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I have just been to get a number plate for my trailer. After looking on ebay for the cheapest which was £8.99 +£2 if you want a black border!) I had to take my car for some wheel balancing. I aksed the guy where I could get a number plate locally. I had my V5 with me. In the same industrial estate there was a MOT place that did number plates so I hopped over the road and got one done. I was very impressed, (sic) the plate was aluminium with the characters embossed / pressed into it. £10 (including a black border!) which I was pleased with compared to the plastic £9 ebay offerings.

The new plate has the blue section to the left side, with GB at the bottom. It doesn't have a Union Flag, which I understand from the excerpt reproduced above, it doesn't need. Just the two letters in latin font are required. I can't imagine that this place that made my number plate with GB was leaving something off that was necessary.

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The gov-uk webpage that covers displying number plates (link in my posting of 3 January 2021 9:18 AM above) advises as follows


Travelling in Europe


You do not need a GB sticker if your number plate includes the GB identifier on its own or with the Union flag. But you will need to display a GB sticker clearly on the rear of your vehicle if your number plate has any of the following:


- a Euro symbol

- a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales

- numbers and letters only - no flag or identifier


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


So the design of your aluminium registration-number plates (with GB on the left but no Union flag) meets the ‘no separate GB sticker needed’ rule.


There was clearly doubt in the past as to whether pressed aluminium plates were legal for modern vehicles




but there are plenty of UK companies nowadays stating that they are (example here)




The ebay advert I gave a link to earlier as a £3.29 example of adhesive ’stickers’ that could be put on number plates to cover the Euro symbol claims that their stickers are “Road Legal”. The advert’s Product Description says


"This symbol meets the EC Council Regulation 2411/98 which states that: > the height must be a minimum of 98mm; > the width must be a minimum of 40mm (maximum of 50mm); > the background must be of retro-reflecting blue with 12 retro-reflecting yellow stars at the top; and > the distinguishing sign of the Member State (GB) in retro-reflecting white or yellow. https://www.gov.uk/displaying-number-plates/flags-symbols-and-identifiers”


Although that’s undoubtedly true, I’m still wary that ‘interfering’ with an original number plate by covering information already on it with a sticker is legally permissible in the UK. (Not something I’ll lose any sleep about - my car’s number plates never carried a GB symbol, so a separate GB ‘oval’ was needed when I drove it abroad and, when Brexit was looming years ago, I stuck a separate GB sticker on my Rapido motorhome’s rear.)


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In a fit of unjustified forward thinking optimisim I am going to fit an oval GB sticker on the back of my motorhome. I've just found an old one in the loft. (GB sticker, not motorhome)


I read that link you put David and I would argue several points:

a) It says 'if bent it must spring back into shape'. The aluminium ones do bend back to shape, provided you don't bend them too much. The plastic ones do bend back to shape provided you don't bend them too much. In the absense of a probably nonsensical definition of degree of bend, the bendability of the aluminium meets the bend back requirement. This might be to separate them from the cast aluminium plates referred to which clearly will not bend back.

b) The reflective surface of the aluminium plate is part of - printed on to - the aluminium plate, it isn't a subsequently stuck-on piece of plastic which might peel off

c) I am pretty sure that to be able to produce and sell number plates you have to be registered with DVLA or some other Gov dept and you have to photocopy and store the V5 of the person buying the plate, and it has to be recorded with DVLA that you have made a plate with that number.


Anyway doesn't it just show how bored we all are with nothing better to do than discuss (I won't use the word 'argue', that is too strong ) whether we can take a ham sandwich over the water or whether a number plate made of aluminium is legal :-D I am sure Mr Policeman has far more important things to do than stop a car with an aluminium plate. There are plenty of number plates with the wrong font and letter spacing, cars and trucks with lights and number plates covered in mud and so on. I won't lose any sleep over it.

Oh and by the way the garage that makes the aluminium plates is first and foremost an MOT testing station where they do no repairs, just MOTs and I am sure they wouldn't be failing a car with number plates they have made, would they?

I like the plates a lot, enough to go and get a set for my cars. And motorbikes :-D

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gassygassy - 2021-01-08 8:43 AM


I read that link you put David and I would argue several points..

Presumably you mean “Derek” and the first link I provided was to a historical 2015 webpage and the 2nd link to a current one.


The Hobby motorhome I 'self-imported' from Germany in 2005 came with pressed aluminium temporary registration plates that clipped into a plastic surround. This arrangement is (I understand) standard practice in Germany where the plates need to be removed annually to have updated insurance details added to them.


In the dim distant past I read a story by a UK motorcyclist who had self-imported from Germany a bike with a rear clip-in number plate. He had been stopped by a UK policeman and been told that this type of fixing was illegal in the UK as the number plate could easily be removed and that he would be charged accordingly. The motorcyclist said “OK, if you can remove the plate I’ll accept the charge - otherwise I’ll see you in court and you can demonstrate there how easy removal is.” The policeman could not get the plate out and the motorcyclist was not prosecuted.


I can’t find any authorative guidance on-line about the legality or otherwise of using self-adhesive stickers on UK number plates to ‘legalise’ them post-Brexit. There have been discussions about adding ‘allegaince’ (eg. favourite football team) stickers to number plates where the consensus was that this would be illegal, but that’s not really the same.


The ‘ham-and-cheese sandwich’ is a handy means of referencing dairy and animal products that (apparently) anyone entering the EU from the UK will now be prevented from bringing with them. I’m not really interested in number plate rules as my own vehicles conform, but I am interested in the dairy and animal products restrictions as they affect me personally, will make me change what I’ve been accustomed to do when going to the EU and might further delay ferry disembarkation when we go to France. And while the UK police may well be unconcerned about UK number plate subtle technicalities, French border control personnel may take a different view where ‘personal food’ is concerned.

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gassygassy - 2021-01-07 10:04 PM..................... .

The new plate has the blue section to the left side, with GB at the bottom. .....................................

Andrew, could you post the location name and/or contact details of this firm. I'd like to give them a ring. Thanks.

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