THE European Union flag has been removed from new British driving licences and number plates to mark the first anniversary of Brexit, the Department of Transport has announced.
The first iterations of the new design, which will be given to those renewing their licence or receiving one for the first time, was issued on Jan 1, to signify “the beginning of a new chapter for the UK”, a press release said.
Few new drivers will be receiving licences for the time being, however, as driving tests have been postponed during all three coronavirus lockdowns.
The UK exited the European Union on January 31, 2020, with an 11-month transition period ending on December 31, 2020. The UK and EU reached a withdrawal agreement on December 24, just a week before the transition period ended.
Licences and number plates currently bearing the EU flag will remain valid.
Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps commented: “Changing the designs of our driving licences and number plates is a historic moment for British motorists, and a reassertion of our independence from the EU one year on from our departure.”
The EU flag has appeared on British driving licences since they took their modern photocard form in 1997. The British Union Flag was added to the cards in 2015, a month after paper licences were abolished.
Brits will not need international driving permit to drive in EU
The release of the new designs came at the same time that the Department for Transport announced a raft of agreements made between the UK and EU member states that will allow Brits to drive in Europe without the need for an international driving permit.
The agreements apply to all 27 EU member states, as well as Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, who are all part of the European Single Market, despite not being part of the EU.
The agreements mean that UK drivers will not need to display a GB sticker in most EU countries as long as their number plates display a GB, or GB alongside a Union Flag.
According to the new agreement, residents of EU countries can drive in the UK without an international permit, as long as they have identifying plates and a valid licence issued in their own country.
Brits driving in Europe may escape speeding fines, it was reported last month, after a European Union directive requiring the cross-border sharing of driving licence data was nullified in the UK. However the Department for Transport warned that drivers of UK registered vehicles may still be contacted in relation to these offences.”
However, the government stressed that national Covid restrictions are still in place and that people should not be travelling between countries apart from for work or other legally permitted reasons.
The Transport Secretary took to Twitter to show how number plates will look when the EU flag is replaced with GB and the Union Flag.
How the new UK number plate looks with the Union Flag and GB replacing the EU symbol. The green background on this one signifies a fully electric vehicles. https://t.co/Hb7uXKdkcl pic.twitter.com/rNavDrwjh5
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) January 31, 2021
“Looking to the future, whether it’s for work or for holidays abroad, these changes mean that those who want to drive in the EU can continue to do so with ease,” Shapps said in a statement.
- After reading about the EU flag being removed from UK driving licences to celebrate Brexit, you might want read about the green number plates that the government introduced in December to encourage the uptake of electric cars.
- If you’re confused about the rules about driving in Europe, you can read our guide to driving in the EU after Brexit.
- We’ve also done a guide about whether or not it’s legal to go for a drive during lockdown.