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UK introduces a new car sticker requirement for driving in Germany

There have been a lot of big changes in travel between Germany 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 a new car sticker requirement for driving in Germany
Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP

If you intend to drive your British vehicle in Germany – 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.

SEE ALSO: Candidate barred from standing in German local election challenges removal of Brits’ EU rights

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 German police without one you can be issued with an on-the-spot fine (although it’s unclear how bothered German police will be about the intricacies of UK v GB).

Drivers coming to Germany from the UK also need to remember that German law states that all motorists must carry with them an emergency triangle and a high-vis flourescent vest.

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 Germany 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 Germany 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.

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.

  2. 14 pages are required for each pet. 12 pages are senseless questions and the last 2 pages that are the most important are photocopies of the inside pages of the UK Pet passport.
    In other words a totally political and childish effort on behalf of the EU.

  3. I assume that somebody in the UK administration is embarrassed by any implication that Britain is still great. Although having a name containing United is a bit of a joke too

  4. Another pointless inconveniance and expense for British travellers resulting from Brexit. Either UK or GB is recognisable in Europe, but GB is better suited as it is an obvious synonym for Gross Britannien, Grande Bretagne and Groot Britannie.
    The equivalents for UK don’t.

    However, I suppose the Government see it as a way of emphasising Northern Ireland’s position given the current difficulties there.

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For members

BREXIT

EXPLAINED: How can Brits visit or move to Germany post-Brexit?

Many Brits may be considering spending time in Germany or even moving for work or to study. Here's a look at the rules.

EXPLAINED: How can Brits visit or move to Germany post-Brexit?

The Brexit transition period ended on January 1st 2021, but it’s been a turbulent few years with Covid-related restrictions, which mean many people may not have travelled abroad since then. Here’s what you should know about the rules for travelling and moving to Germany post-Brexit. 

Can I visit Germany from the UK on holiday?

Absolutely. But you do have to stick to certain rules on how long you can stay in Germany (and other EU countries) without a visa.

“British citizens do not require a visa for the Schengen Member States, if the duration of their stay does not exceed 90 days within any 180-day period,” says the German Missions consular service in the UK. 

You can find a full explanation of the 90-day rule from our sister site, The Local France, HERE, along with the Schengen calculator that allows you to work out your allowance.

READ ALSO: Passport scans and €7 fees: What will change for EU travel in 2022 and 2023

Note that if you were living in Germany before January 1st 2021, different rules apply. People in this scenario should have received a residence permit – known as the Aufenthaltstitel-GB – from the German authorities, which proves their right to remain in Germany with the same rights as they had before Brexit. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: How can I re-enter Germany without my post-Brexit residence card?

Can I move to Germany from the UK after the Brexit transition period?

Yes. But if you are coming to Germany to live and work, you will need to apply for the right documents, like other so-called ‘third country nationals’. All foreigners from outside the EU who want to to stay in Germany for more than three months have to get a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel). 

As we touched on above, citizens from some countries (including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Israel, New Zealand and Switzerland) are allowed entry into Germany without a visa and can apply for a residence permit while in the country. You can contact the Foreigners Office (Ausländerbehörde) in your area to find out how to get a residence permit.

You’ll need various official documents, such as a valid passport, proof of health insurance and proof that you can support yourself. You usually receive your residence permit as a sticker in your passport.

Passengers wait at Hamburg airport.

Passengers at Hamburg airport. Brits coming to Germany have more things to consider after Brexit. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Markus Scholz

Germany has a well-documented skilled worker shortage at the moment so there are work permit options to consider that may suit your circumstances. 

For the work visa for qualified professionals, for instance, your qualifications have to be either recognised in Germany or comparable to those from a German higher education facility. 

You may also be able to get an EU Blue Card. This residence permit is aimed at attracting and enabling highly qualified third-country nationals to live in the EU. 

It comes with benefits, including the right to to request and bring family members to the country, and shortcuts for applying for permanent residency. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How German citizenship differs from permanent residency

When applying for a Blue Card in Germany this year, you have to earn a minimum gross salary (before tax) of €56,400 – down from €56,800 in 2021. 

In so-called shortage occupations (Mangelberufe), where there is a high number of unfilled positions, the minimum gross salary is €43,992 – down from €44,304 in 2021.

Shortage occupations include employees in the sectors of mathematics, IT, natural sciences, engineering and medicine.

If you want to come to Germany from the UK to study then you also need to apply for a visa. For this you may need proof of acceptance to the university or higher education institution of your choice and possibly proof of your German language skills.

Check out the useful government website Make it in Germany for more detailed information, as well as the German Missions in the UK site, which has lots of info on travel after Brexit, and on visas.  

What else should I know?

The German government plans to reform the immigration system, although it’s not clear at this stage when this will happen. 

It will move to a points-based system, inspired by countries like Canada, where foreigners will have to score above a certain threshold of points to get a residence or work permit.

This scoring system will be set by the government, but it will include factors like language skills, family connections to the country, specific qualifications or work-related skills, or the amount of money in your bank account.

Keep an eye on The Local’s home page for updates on the changes to immigration laws. 

Have you moved to Germany – or are thinking about moving – after the Brexit transition period and want to share your experiences? Please get in touch by emailing [email protected] 

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