UK introduces new car sticker requirement for driving in Spain

UK introduces new car sticker requirement for driving in Spain
Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP
There have been a lot of big changes in travel between Spain and the UK since the end of the Brexit transition period, but now the UK has introduced another - a new sticker requirement for British drivers.

If you intend to drive your British vehicle in Spain – or anywhere else in the EU – you will now need a “UK” sticker on your car.

This replaces the GB sticker or magnet that was previously needed when driving abroad, and the UK government guidance states: “If you have a GB sticker, cover or remove it.”

The new rule will come into effect on September 28th, 2021 for British registered cars driving in the EU, with the exception of Ireland, which does not require a sticker or magnet.

The UK government specifies: “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.”

A screenshot of the UK government’s webpage on number plates.

The British government has also registered UK – rather than GB – as its new international symbol for traffic.

The UN 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’”.

No official explanation has been given for the change and The Local has asked the UK’s Department of Transport to explain the switch.

The difference between Great Britain and the UK is the inclusion of Northern Ireland – GB refers only to England, Scotland and Wales while UK includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The new UK stickers will be available online, and in post offices and garages for around £1.50 (€1.75).

Clearly displaying the country of origin of your vehicle is an international requirement and if you are stopped by Spanish police without one you can be issued with an on-the-spot fine (although it’s unclear how bothered Spanish police will be about the intricacies of UK vs GB).


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