Made in Great Britain, Made in the UK or Made in the British Isles?

Made in Great Britain and Made in UK are often used interchangeably. We’ve done it here at Make it British, but there is a difference between the phrases. You may not know what that difference is, so here’s an explanation of the terminology of the British Isles to clear up any confusion.

Made in Britain or Made in UK: Terminology of the British Islespx
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Made in Great Britain, made in the UK or made in the British Isles? Which do you think should be the right term to use for labelling a British-made product? At Make it British we are now erring towards using ‘made in UK’ a lot more.


I remember, not long after I started Make it British, a very nice man got in touch with me from Northern Ireland. He pointed out to me, that by using the term ‘made in Britain’, I was excluding anything that was made in Northern Ireland. So, I try not to make that mistake anymore by using made in UK.


I was horrified at the time when I discovered that I’d made such a schoolgirl error by using ‘made in Britain’ and ‘made in UK’ interchangeably. I remember rushing off to research it online.  So that you haven’t got to do that, here’s an explanation of the difference between the terms.

Made in Great Britain

Great Britain

Firstly, let’s look at Great Britain which geographically refers to the Island that contains England, Scotland and Wales. But politically, it also refers to the island of England, Scotland and Wales together with the surrounding islands that are offshore from the mainland


Britain, the name on its own, originally referred to England, Scotland and Wales, and a small part of Northern France many, many years ago. When that part of Northern France split off and became known as Brittany, Britain became Great Britain, adding the word ‘Great’ to differentiate it from the French territory.


Made in the United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Secondly, there is the United Kingdom. This is actually a shortening of term ‘the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’.


It refers to the sovereign state of the island of Great Britain and the north eastern part of Ireland and many smaller islands around the edge.  When you say made in UK you are referring to England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the islands around the edge that are part of the sovereign state.


Made in the British Isles

British Isles

There is also the British Isles. This is where it sometimes gets confusing because the British Isles is actually a geographical term that refers to the United Kingdom, all of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. 


Made in Ireland


Finally you’ve got the island of Ireland on its own. This refers to the Republic of Ireland, in the south, and Northern Ireland, to the north east.


Up until the early 20th century, the whole of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. When Ireland became its own Republic, Northern Ireland remained part of the UK. Hence the rather long-winded name of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


So, that’s the difference between Great Britain, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, The British Isles and Ireland. And why there’s a difference between saying ‘made in UK’ and ‘made in Britain’.


If you say ‘made in Britain’, you’re excluding Northern Ireland. At Make it British we certainly don’t want to leave anyone out. That’s one of the reasons why we’re using ‘made in UK’ a lot more than we are ‘made in Britain’.


Google searches for Made in UK vs. Made in Britain

It’s also worth noting, certainly if you sell online, that ‘made in UK’ is used in significantly more internet searches by people than ‘made in Britain’. Google trends show that over the last 12 months there were more than double the number of searches containing the phrase ‘made in UK’ compared to ‘made in Britain’. That difference was 11 times more when looking at the shopping category.

Made in Great Britain V Made in UK Google Trends

The difference was greater again for searches from outside of the UK. People searching for products made here from abroad more likely to use ‘made in UK’ or ‘made in the UK’ than ‘made in Britain’. (Note: Google considers made in UK’ and ‘made in the UK’ the same.  


If you’re selling products online, it’s worth taking this into consideration when you select the search terms that you want to be found for. For example, if you’re making childrenswear in the UK, using the search term ‘childrenswear made in UK’ is much more likely to be searched for than ‘childrenswear made in Britain’.

Want to listen to a podcast on this topic? Check out episode 154 of the Make it British Podcast ‘Made in UK vs Made in Britain’