New Rules For Caravanning And Motorhoming Outside The UK

Caravanning and motorhoming in the EU was once incredibly simple. Drivers could cross the English Channel with virtually no restrictions or requirements. However, following new rules that came into force on 28 September 2021, the situation has changed. Now drivers require a UK sticker or identifier on their vehicles to tow any caravan or trailer abroad. 

motorhome driving down the road

Who Does This New Law Apply To?

For over 100 years, European countries have permitted UK drivers to drive around the continent displaying a GB sticker. However, that is changing because of the UK’s exit from the European Union in 2019. Drivers now have to display a UK sticker or replace their existing plates with UK ones. 

Some background: GB is short for Great Britain and refers to three counties: England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland (NI). However, the United Kingdom (UK) comprises all four nations, including NI. The UK exited the EU – including NI – prompting the change in vehicle identification requirements. 

Confusingly, back in January 2021, the UK Government said that drivers with plates that feature the Union Flag or GB identifier did not have to display a separate GB sticker. The then Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted, “Brits will be able to drive on the Continent without GB stickers thanks to a new reg plate with the Union Flag and GB.”

However, following new rules that came into force on 28 September 2021, caravanners and motorhome drivers will need to either replace their existing GB and Union Flag plates with a UK one or use a UK sticker. This rule applies to any drivers with EU, Wales or Scotland identifiers on their registration plates. To complicate matters further, UK motorists planning on driving through Spain, Cyprus or Malta will also need to display a separate GB sticker or risk a fine. 

The EU decision is largely a political response to Brexit. The bloc says that it is changing the rules to show “solidarity” with Northern Ireland which has been put in a precarious situation following the exit of the United Kingdom from political union. 

Warnings

According to Joel Kempson, a car insurance expert at Uswitch, driving in the European Union has been incredibly simple for drivers for decades. However, following Brexit, the situation is changing. Brits will now need to take extra care to ensure that they are observing all the rules when driving into the EU from Britain. 

As mentioned, after 28 September 2021, UK motorists are no longer allowed to display an EU sticker to drive in the European Union. Instead, they must display a UK sticker or have a UK identifier on their number plate. Drivers must now purchase a UK number plate placed visibly on the rear of their caravans or motorhomes, instead of a GB one. 

Furthermore, before driving to the European Union, Kempson suggests that motorists do their research. They must ensure that they have all the necessary documentation before they travel. If they don’t, they could risk getting turned away at ports of entry and even facing a fine. 

Documentation requirements include:

  • V5c logbook if you are driving your own motorhome or caravan
  • VE103 if you are hiring or leasing a vehicle to prove that you are allowed to take it out of the UK
  • MOT documents
  • Car insurance documents

In the past, the EU specified that drivers needed to carry a green card with them on entering the EU to prove that they have insurance. However, authorities say that they will now accept conventional insurance documents. 

There are still warnings in place for UK drivers, though. Because rule updates are patchy, travel experts recommend that caravanning and motorhoming enthusiasts travel with both green cards and official insurance documents for the foreseeable future. 

Wrapping Up

The introduction of new number plate rules is largely a political response to Brexit and is causing caranners and motorhome enthusiasts headaches. It is the second time the number plate and sticker rules for driving on the continent have been changed this year. 

The new rules state that UK drivers must now display either a UK sticker or number plate identifier, following a change in the law on 28 September 2021. The changes mean that those who travel regularly to the EU and don’t meet the new requirements will need to update their vehicle identification yet again. 

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