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Haulage Driving in the EU post-Brexit

Updated: Feb 16

Are you a haulage company? Do your drivers operate outside the UK, particularly to Europe? Have you made plans for what will happen after March 29th 2019, the day on which the UK is expected to leave the EU?

To help employers plan for the changes that will take place after the leaving date, the Department for Transport, the DVLA, the Traffic Commissioners and the DVSA have published guidance on the requirement that haulage companies will have to take into account.

At the moment, the exact nature of the UK’s departure depends on ongoing negotiations between the government and the EU. However, it would be prudent to have contingency plans in place should a “no-deal” Brexit take place.

Should this occur, it is likely that commercial drivers are going to need additional documentation to drive in the EU.

Under the current arrangements, UK lorry drivers carrying out international journeys must have a standard international operator’s licence along with a community licence if their journeys takes them to, from or through the EU and EEA.

If a vehicle weighs below 3,500kg and the driver is carrying their own goods, an international operator’s licence or Driver CPC is not required.

However, should the UK leave without a deal, it’s possible that EU and EEA governments may not recognise community licences that have been issued in the UK.

Should that happen, the government has said that it will attempt to reach new bilateral agreements with the EU. Failing that, the old bilateral agreements will be reinstated and haulage access will be enabled.

Transport managers should consider applying for ECMT (European Conference of Ministers of Transport) international haulage permits for 2019.

These permits allow UK operators to drive in the EU and EEA if UK-issued community licences aren’t accepted by EU states.

It’s expected that the number of ECMT permits will be limited and therefore, applications should be made as soon as possible. The dates for online applications will run from 26th November to 21st December 2018.

An ECMT permit lets UK operators drive in the EU and EEA (except Cyprus) if community licences issued in the UK are no longer recognised. These permits are also recognised in fifteen other countries (see below).

If an operator holds a Northern Ireland operator’s licence, they won’t have to obtain an ECMT permit if their journey takes them to the Republic of Ireland.

If an operator with a Great Britain operator’s licence plans to drive in the Republic of Ireland after the UK leave date, they should apply for an ECMT permit.

A precondition for ECMT permit application is the holding of a vehicle operator licence online account.

Trailer registration

Following the leave date, all commercial trailers over 750kg and all trailers over 3,500kg must registered before they can travel through the following EU and EEA countries:

  • Albania

  • Andorra

  • Armenia

  • Austria

  • Azerbaijan

  • Belarus

  • Belgium

  • Bosnia & Herzegovina

  • Bulgaria

  • Croatia

  • Czech Republic

  • Denmark

  • Estonia

  • Finland

  • France

  • Georgia

  • Germany

  • Greece

  • Hungary

  • Italy

  • Kazakhstan

  • Latvia

  • Liechtenstein

  • Lithuania

  • Luxembourg

  • Macedonia

  • Moldova

  • Monaco

  • Montenegro

  • Netherlands

  • Norway

  • Poland

  • Portugal

  • Romania

  • Russia

  • San Marino

  • Serbia

  • Slovakia

  • Slovenia

  • Sweden

  • Switzerland

  • Ukraine

If a trailer is being taken through these countries, the driver will need to:

  • ensure that the trailer is registered with the DVLA;

  • display a registration plate for the trailer itself, separate from the towing vehicle

  • present the Trailer Registration Certificate, if it is requested by a foreign authority.

If trailers are only going to be used in the UK, or for journeys between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, they do not need to be registered.

Similarly, if trailers are going to be used in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, they don’t need to be registered. However, if they have to be driven through any of the countries listed above, registration will still be required.

Non-commercial trailers that weigh over 750kg can be voluntarily registered but there is no legal requirement to do this.

What to do in order to prepare for trailer registration

If you’re a commercial trailer owner who makes, or is planning to make, international journeys, make sure that any of your commercial trailers that weigh over 750kg (gross weight) are registered with the DVLA from January 2019.

If you’re a private trailer owner who makes, or is planning to make, international journeys, make sure that any of your trailers that weigh more than 3,500kg (gross weight) are registered with the DVLA from January 2019

rradarstation: rradarstation is a resource available through the AXA MLP policy where policyholders can access rradar’s legal advisory team over the phone or by email and web portal that provides over 1,000 articles, step by step guidance sheets, forms, sample letters and templates to download relating to running a commercial business including employment law issues such as driver and transport procedures.

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