New driving licences released from today to celebrate ‘historic’ anniversary of Brexit
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The updates will see the EU flag completely removed from all driving licences and number plates in a historic change. The Department for Transport (DfT) said existing licences will still be valid for the time being.
However, the new versions will not be issued to everyone renewing their licence or getting one for the first time.
It was a year ago today the UK finally left the European Union after years of political turmoil in Westminster and Brussels.
The UK entered into an 11-month transition period, which came to an end on 31 December 2020.
The DfT said the new design coincides with a number of new agreements made between the UK and member states.
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Under the new agreements, UK drivers who hold a photocard licence will not need to have an International Driving Permit to travel in any of the 27 member states.
These rules will also include Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
The agreement also means UK drivers will not need to display a GB sticker in most EU countries if their number plate has GB or a Union Flag on it.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said updating the driving licences was a ”historic moment” for road users.
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He said the new changes reasserted the UK’s independence while ensuring road users can travel without issues.
Mr Shapps said: “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.
“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.”
The DfT warned national restrictions are still in place and urged drivers to not travel internationally.
However, they warned the new arrangements means Britons can drive in the EU for years to come even after lockdown ends.
The UK flag was first included alongside the EU flag in 2015 to help “bring the country together”.
The European Union passed a directive in 2006 requiring driving licences to have an EU flag printed on them.
However, British driving licences have carried the EU flag since they first came into use in 1998.
Welsh drivers have previously called for the Welsh flag to be included on driving licences.
Campaigners said it was “not acceptable” the Wesh Red Dragon was not included on licences as many citizens considered themselves Welsh and not British,
The DVLA responded to the campaign as they warned changing the flags would be “expensive and complex”.
They said: “To provide a choice of national symbols would be extremely expensive and complex.
“It would also result in a large number of different variations of GB driving licences.”
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