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

Which do you think should be the right term to use for labeling a British-made product?

British Isles

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

When I started a petition for a standardised Made in Britain logo a nice man contacted me from Northern Ireland to point out that by using the term Made in Britain I was actually excluding anything that was made in his neck of the woods.

I was absolutely horrified to discover that I  had made such a schoolgirl error, and immeadiately rushed off to consult my old copies of Encylopedia Britannica (actually this was not the case, I had to use Wikepdia, but I like to think that it could have been the former).

Here is what I discovered about the main terms used to describe this part of the world:

United Kingdom –  refers to the sovereign state of the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. It is a shortening of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Great Britain – geographically refers to the island containing England, Scotland and Wales but politically also refers to the island itself together with a number of surrounding islands, which constitute the territories of England, Scotland and Wales.

Britain – a shortening of the name for the island referred to as Great Britain.

The British Isles – a geographical term covering the United Kingdom, all of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

So by labeling a product as Made in Britain it means something completely different entirely to referring to it as British-made or Made in the UK. Particularly if you happen to live in Northern Ireland, where you would understandably feel a bit left out!

Which brings me to the question – if there was to be an officially recognised marque that clearly defined what was made here, which term should be used? Made in the UK? Made in Britain? Made in Great Britain or Made in the British Isles? I would love to hear your thoughts.



  1. John on June 12, 2013 at 7:06 am

    The official name “the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” exists as the short form “the United Kingdom”. In order not to leave any doubt, the label “Made 100% in the United Kingdom”, or “Entirely Manufactured in the United Kingdom” could be possibilities. This tells us nothing about the origin of the materials of course.

  2. Syd Partridge on June 12, 2013 at 9:43 am

    An interesting conundrum. Britain is a generic term which can refer to the either Great Britain (the island), the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or The British Isles (depending on context). Previously it was not unusual for the term Britain to also include the empire (Although more properly referred to as The British Empire.) So the main use was and should be a political region than a geographical one.
    People generally understand Britain to mean the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Also, with the political changes taking place and the possibility of Scotland becoming independent, we might lose The United Kingdom; so the label would no longer apply.
    Made in Britain would be my choice.

    • K. Covington on August 19, 2019 at 6:05 pm

      People can generally understand something to mean a thing and all be wrong too. Usage does not equal definition.

  3. Ian on June 12, 2013 at 9:44 am

    We spent a fair amount of time thinking about this before finally deciding to stamp on “Handmade in Great Britain” on our bicycle’s name plate. In part this was because “Great Britain” is less of a mouth full and requires less space on a label than “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. But also felt it was a better fit for our brand than the alternatives and would resonate more strongly with our customers.

    I suppose you would have to balance how accurate & inclusive you feel you need to be against the impact that might have on the value of the marque.

  4. JR for https://www.facebook.com/planB4fashion on June 12, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Made in a Democratic Welfare State!
    (alongside other made-ins of choice such as made in UK)

  5. John on June 12, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    The term Great Britain or Britain cannot include Northern Ireland, end of story. So the official term, the United Kingdom (until Ireland is united……….) should surely be used. In fact, the site name should be changed to makeit……. that’s the problem; what is the adjective ? Makeitunitedkingdomish ?

  6. Catherine madge on June 12, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    I think that ‘Made in Britain’ is a good term to use. Made in Great Britain does use the adjective reminding us Britain is great, so why not be proud of it!

  7. Iain on June 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    ‘Made in UK.’ It is exactly right. It’s literally correct and legally correct!

  8. Paula on June 13, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Doesn’t ‘British Made’ get around all of this?

  9. Penelope Else on June 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    I’m addressing this in a more local frame for a local promotion: Made in Forest Hill.

    Where items come from further afield I’ll be referring to them as Made in London, Made in England or Made in UK depending on which is the most local I can claim, if any.

    • John L on June 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      I agree with Penelope. It would be a great pity if moves to establish a standard formula such as “Made in Britain” led to it replacing “Made in England”, “Made in Scotland” and so on.

    • Syd Partridge on June 20, 2013 at 8:43 am

      Many years ago I was taken to task over using ‘Made in Britain’ because of EU labeling rules. To get round this, I changed the label on our products to ‘Made in the Black Country’, as this related to both the area of manufacture and the cradle of Britain’s manufacturing heritage. This was fine if I sold locally, but further afield nobody had a clue where the Black country was. Using local town names will result in the same problem, especially if the items are exported. Many American towns have the same names as English ones, so it is important that the Country of origin is stated. Made in Forest Hill, England perhaps?

      • Rob on July 18, 2013 at 4:44 pm

        Jermyn street is now in China, I’m afraid!

  10. David Courtney on June 24, 2013 at 8:37 am

    I believe that the naming is quite immaterial to all of this.
    The most important element is agreeing on a logo which covers all bases. And this, in my view, has to be some kind of incarnation of the Union flag. This is recognised world-wide and needs NO FURTHER EXPLANATION.
    Whether manufacturers then further embellish it with Made in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain or the United Kingdom is academic and may be left to the will and wish of those whose patriotism is led by their actual physical location………….
    Let’s celebrate this diversity while displaying homogeneity at national level!

  11. Maureen Foster on July 3, 2013 at 1:48 am

    I suppose we will have to wait and see what Scotland do when they get a vote whether to stay as part of Great Britain!?!

  12. Ken Craig on July 3, 2013 at 9:57 am

    For now, made in Britain will do. BUT, if the Scots & Welsh want to be independent, ( an untruth, because they will still be governed by a foreign power, the EU!) then lets joyfully have good old made in England! Lots of foreigners refer to Britain as England anyway.

  13. Chris Holden on July 8, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Made in the UK has many advantages.
    Obviously, the main one is that it’s the most correct term. But it’s also nice and short, which makes it ideal for use in a logo (which was what started this thread in the first place). At the Olympics, Great Britain was shortened to GB for similar reasons. TeamGB was a snappy little soundbite – Team Great Britain is such a mouthful! UK is a neat, short abbreviation for United Kingdom, lends itself to use online, in web addresses, social media and so on. I would prefer to label my products Made in the UK.

  14. Rob on July 18, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    … but Northern Ireland / Ulster and Eire are part of the British Isles, aren’t they?
    As you comment, there’s no UK equivalent of adjective for British, so my vote goes for Britain / British.
    Makes it very difficult to search for UK-ish stuff on the web, though – have to search ‘Made in England’, ‘Made in Scotland, ‘Made in Wales’, ‘Made in Ulster’, ‘Made in Northern Ireland’, ‘Made in Britain’, ‘Made in the UK’!

  15. Darren on July 26, 2017 at 10:25 am

    I recently contacted a company that states on their product that it is ‘MADE IN THE BRITISH ISLES’.
    I asked if the product was made in Republic of Ireland or the UK and received a response that they do not share commercial information and flatly refused to share with me actual place of origin.

    It appears that some products made in the Republic of Ireland hide under the term British Isles to somehow suggest that the product could be made in the UK.

  16. Stephen Bailey on October 28, 2017 at 8:59 am

    The man from Northern Ireland was right.Great Britain refers to the Union of England and Wales with Scotland in 1707.The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland encompasses the Province of Northern Ireland (after partition in 1921)as well.We should employ the term ‘Made in the UK’.

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