An island based in the English Channel, Guernsey is close to the French coast. Known for beachfront resorts such as Cobo Bay, it’s a British Crown dependency that remains self-governing. From its beautiful coastal cliff sides to its historic attractions like Castle Coronet, Guernsey is an ideal place for motorists to holiday and take in the island sights. If you’re planning a trip to Guernsey, you may notice the number plates can look quite unusual and the rules of the road are different too.
If you’re wondering exactly how do Guernsey number plates work, then read on for everything you need to know.
Guernsey number plate format
Unlike UK plates, Guernsey registrations don’t contain letters; they only feature numbers. Plates show up to six characters which are often displayed in silver on a black background. However, they are also allowed to use black characters on white and yellow plates like the current specification here in the UK. In addition to the numerals, Guernsey plates also display an oval emblem featuring the letters GBG, which stands for Great Britain and Northern Ireland - Guernsey. In some instances, Guernsey’s international vehicle registration code is also displayed on plates.
Mandatory since 1909, Guernsey plates are issued sequentially for the most part, but in 2011 the Environment Department introduced some new plates numbers beginning with either one or two zeros to expand the different registrations available to drivers. While adding letters to the number plates of Guernsey was considered, it was decided that it would take away an element of the island’s unique identity and an “aspect of Guernsey life”.
Sought-after potential number plate combinations formed with additional zeros such as 007, the number famed by British fictional spy James Bond, were deemed valuable. Instead of releasing these number plates sequentially, it was decided they would be auctioned off. Auctioning of the total quantity of plates was estimated to raise funds of around £11 million for Guernsey by auctioneer Clive Maides.
As with the UK, lower numbers are highly prized and command the highest price tag when sold.
Special number plates of Guernsey
There are several number plates in Guernsey that indicate individuals of importance. The registration with the numeral one represented is reserved and displayed by the Bailiff of Guernsey’s vehicle. The Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey’s official vehicle carries no plates at all, but his private cars sport the registration numbers G1 and G2.
The Fire and Rescue Services of Guernsey vehicles also require no number plates.
If you’re visiting Guernsey and pick up a hire car, it will feature a separate plate that displays a black letter H on a yellow field. As Guernsey roads have different laws, these H plates are to inform the drivers behind that the car in front of them may not be fully aware of the rules.
Rules of the road for Guernsey
Just like in the UK, drivers in Guernsey need a driving licence and insurance to be legally allowed to use the roads. Cars drive on the left hand side but the maximum speed limit is only 35mph. Many roads that are narrow have even lower limitations, like 15mph. Cyclists, walkers and horse-riders can be found on many roads and have right of way.
Junctions should be entered with other cars in turn and you’ll find box junctions, which you can’t enter until your exit is completely clear. A sign not seen in the UK, sporting a yellow line through the exit sign of a minor road, tells drivers to give way to any traffic on a major road.