UK introduces new car sticker requirement for driving in France

There have been a lot of big changes in travel between France 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.

UK introduces new car sticker requirement for driving in France
Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP

If you intend to drive your British vehicle in France – 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.”

READ ALSO Travel to France: What has changed since Brexit

The new rule came 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’”.

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.”

The difference between Great Britain and the UK is the inclusion of Northern Ireland – GB refers only to England, Scotland and Wales while UK is 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 French police without one you can be issued with an on-the-spot fine (although it’s unclear how bothered French police will be about the intricacies of UK v GB).

Drivers coming to France from the UK also need to put correctors on their headlights, while French law states that all motorists must carry with them an emergency triangle and a high-vis fluorescent vest. The law requiring drivers to carry breathalysers has now been scrapped but if you are driving in most cities you will need a Crit’Air sticker.

Other changes

While most people are unlikely to be losing much sleep over a sticker, there are some other bigger changes that Brexit has ushered in.

Driving to France does not require any extra paperwork, motorists who are only visiting can continue to drive on their UK licence and the insurance Green Card is no longer required.

You must, however, make sure that your UK passport has at least six months left to run.

Pets can no longer use the European Pet Passport and instead need an Animal Health Certificate, which must be renewed before each trip.

Meanwhile UK nationals who are resident in France need to show their visa or residency card along with their passport every time they enter or leave the country, to avoid having their passport stamped as a visitor.

Also bear in mind restrictions on what can be brought in to the EU from the UK, which includes high-value items, food and plants.

Find the full list of travel changes HERE.

Member comments

  1. Are the UK government dropping GB because of ridicule over Global Britain? If only…
    As for showing a united country, I can’t imagine when it’s ever been more polarised. Looking forward to Nicola Sturgeon getting her teeth into it. Or Sinn Fein in Stormont.
    It’s so embarrassing.

    1. Yeah, that was also exactly my own thought.

      Also, from memory, NI voted against brexit. The “D”UP was pro-brexit (at least after May offered them bribes to support her). Presuming my memory is correct, and the majority brexit non-support in NI hasn’t changed, the “NI is not part of GB hence ‘U’K” claim, whilst pedantically true, is more of a message to the anti-brexit majority in NI to go f— yerselfs.

  2. So this is how the Govt intends to reunite a country disunited by Brexit. I cringe with shame and embarrassment.

  3. What complete and unneccesary tosh! Perhaps the Tory tosspots are worried that GB will become ‘Garbage Britain .’
    How long before people start sticking some small letters ‘dis’ before UK?

  4. This article is incorrect as far as pet passports are concerned. You And Yours on BBC Radio 4 has just covered this ( because the cost of the health certificate is so high.

    You need the UK health certificate to travel from the UK to France but you can then obtain an EU Pet Passport in France which is much cheaper, can be used for multiple journeys and is recognised by the UK when you return. Apparently the French vet may ask for your residence in France but generally they aren’t bothered.

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Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

A week after chaotic scenes and 6-hour queues at the port of Dover, the British motoring organisation the AA has issued an amber traffic warning, and says it expects cross-Channel ports to be very busy once again this weekend as holidaymakers head to France.

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

The AA issued the amber warning on Thursday for the whole of the UK, the first time that it has issued this type of warning in advance.

Roads across the UK are predicted to be extremely busy due to a combination of holiday getaways, several large sporting events and a rail strike – but the organisation said that it expected traffic to once again be very heavy around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Last weekend there was gridlock in southern England and passengers heading to France enduring waits of more than six hours at Dover, and four hours at Folkestone.

The AA said that while it doesn’t expect quite this level of chaos to be repeated, congestion was still expected around Dover and Folkestone.

On Thursday ferry operator DFDS was advising passengers to allow two hours to get through check-in and border controls, while at Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel operators only said there was a “slightly longer than usual” wait for border controls.

In both cases, passengers who miss their booked train or ferry while in the queue will be accommodated on the next available crossing with no extra charge.

Last weekend was the big holiday ‘getaway’ weekend as schools broke up, and a technical fault meant that some of the French border control team were an hour late to work, adding to the chaos. 

But the underlying problems remain – including extra checks needed in the aftermath of Brexit, limited space for French passport control officers at Dover and long lorry queues on the motorway heading to Folkestone.

OPINION UK-France travel crisis will only be solved when the British get real about Brexit

The port of Dover expects 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday, and queues were already starting to build on Thursday morning.