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British-registered cars now need ‘UK’ number plate sticker in France

Change is due to UK government decision - and not imposed by EU or UN as some reports today claim

GB’ number plates are no longer acceptable for travelling in France Pic: Pompaem Gogh / Shutterstock

From today (September 29) people driving UK-registered cars in France must now have a ‘UK’ sticker on their car instead of the previous ones which said ‘GB’.

Contrary to some reports in the UK press today, this is not being imposed on the UK by either the EU or United Nations, but is due to a British government decision.

The UK earlier this year informed the UN that it was changing its ‘national signifier’ to UK from GB.

The reason has not been clarified, however the RAC motoring organisation believes this is being done in ‘solidarity’ with Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, but not technically in ‘Great Britain’, which refers to the island of Scotland, England and Wales.

Until this year British number plates showed a GB symbol under the EU stars. Since the end of the Brexit transition period in January the UK has issued number plates that instead show GB with the Union Flag.

Until today, the post-Brexit rule for UK-registered cars travelling in the EU, including France, was that if you had an older plate with EU stars, or any plate other than one showing the Union Flag, you should also display a GB sticker on the car when using it in France.

This has now changed due to the UK’s decision to ditch ‘GB’ in favour of ‘UK’ and new number plates will now be issued showing this lettering along with the Union Flag.

There is no obligation to change your number plate, but unless you have a new number plate you do now need to display a ‘UK’ sticker, which can be obtained online and in post offices and garages for around €1.50.

The UK’s Department for Transport confirms this to be a UK decision, saying that the UK had notified the UN’s depository of international conventions on road traffic that the change would take effect from September 28. 

Any potential penalty for not having the 'right' sticker in France is unconfirmed, though the Halfords car accessories chain has stated that “drivers could be refused entry to some countries” without it.

We are checking with the French authorities as to whether this would be enforced in France.

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