What UK lorry and goods vehicle drivers need to do to drive professionally in the EU from 1 January 2021.
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The UK has left the EU
The transition period
There is now a transition period until the end of 2020 while the UK and EU negotiate additional arrangements.
The current rules on trade, travel, and business for the UK and EU will continue to apply during the transition period.
New rules will take effect on 1 January 2021.
You should prepare now and subscribe to email updates about any additional arrangements.
Check how to get ready for new rules in 2021
What you can do now
Actions you can take now that do not depend on negotiations.
- Driving in the EU from 1 January 2021: lorry and goods vehicles.
- Carry out international road haulage from 1 January 2021.
- ECMT international road haulage permits.
- Haulage jobs in the EU.
You will not be able to move goods across EU borders or drive in the EU without the correct documents. Make sure you have the documents you need.
Preparing your business
From 1 January 2021 you will need to make customs declarations to move goods into and out of the EU. You should:
- get an EORI number if you do not already have one
- decide how you want to make customs declarations and whether you need to get someone to deal with customs for you.
Driving licences and international driving permits
You will still need to carry your UK driving licence with you.
You might also need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some EU and EEA countries from 1 January 2021.
The types of IDPs you need will depend on the countries you will drive through. Further detail on this will be available later in 2020.
You will not need an IDP to drive when visiting Ireland if you have a UK driving licence.
You can get an IDP over the counter at the Post Office.
They cost £5.50 and you must:
- be a Great Britain or Northern Ireland resident
- have a full UK driving licence
- be 18 or over
Driver CPC for lorry drivers
You need a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification to drive a lorry professionally in the UK, the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norwayand Switzerland.
If you work for a UK company and have a UK Driver CPC qualification
You will still need Driver CPC to drive professionally in the UK. You must still complete your Driver CPC periodic training by your deadline.
You do not need to do anything else if you’re a UK driver working for a UK company.
You will still be able to drive to or through EU countries with your UK Driver CPC qualification for all international journeys that UK companies are allowed to make.
If you work for an EU company and have a UK Driver CPC qualification
Exchange your UK Driver CPC qualification for an EU one if you work for an EU company or want to work for onefrom 1 January 2021.
The way you do this will depend on how the country where you live and work recognises Driver CPC. Some countries:
- use a Driver CPC card (like the UK does) - this is sometimes called a ‘driver qualification card or ‘DQC’
- add code 95 to the driving licence
Some countries recognise either method.
Countries that use a Driver CPC card
These countries use the Driver CPC card as proof that drivers have the qualification:
Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg (for non-resident drivers only), Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Apply to the relevant organisation in the country where you live and work to exchange your Driver CPC qualification. Check with them how long it takes to make sure you do it in time.
Countries that use code 95 on the driving licence
These countries add code 95 to driving licences as proof that drivers have the qualification:
Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg (for resident drivers only), Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Slovenia.
Exchange your UK driving licence for a driving licence in the EU country where you live and work so that your Driver CPC qualification is exchanged. Check with the relevant organisation in the country to find out if you need to take any extra steps. Check with them how long it takes to make sure you do it in time.
If you do not live in the EU country where you work, your employer may be able to get you a ‘driver attestation certificate’.
You may need to renew your British passport earlier if you’re travelling from 1 January 2021.
On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:
- have at least 6 months left
- be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left)
If you do not renew it, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
It usually takes 3 weeks if you need to renew your passport. There’s a premium service if you need it sooner.
These rules do not apply to travel to Ireland. You can continue to use your passport as long as it’s valid for the length of your stay.
You will not need a visa for short trips, according to European Commission proposals. You could stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, or to work or study.
Check back for updates.
When the rules are confirmed, information about how to get a visa if you need one will be on each country’s travel advice page.
Travel to Ireland will not change from 1 January 2021. You’ll continue to be able to travel and work there in the same way as before.
You should always get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you go abroad.
Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card may not be valid from 1 January 2021.
You can read advice on buying travel insurance with the right cover.
Vehicle and trailer insurance
A ‘green card’ is proof you have motor insurance cover when driving abroad. You’ll need to carry one for the vehicle you’re driving from 1 January 2021.
You’ll need to carry multiple green cards if:
- you have fleet insurance – you’ll need a green card for each vehicle
- your vehicle is towing a trailer - you’ll need one for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer (you need separate trailer insurance in some countries)
- you have 2 policies covering the duration of your trip, for example, if your policy renews during the journey
|Make sure your employer contacts your vehicle insurance provider at least one month before you need green cards.|
What to do if you’re involved in a road accident
If you’re involved in a road accident in an EU country you should in the first instance contact your insurer.
From 1 January 2021, any legal proceedings against either the responsible driver or the insurer of the vehicle will need to be brought in the EU or EEA country where the accident happened. You might have to make your claim in the local language.
You will not get compensation in some countries if the accident is caused by an uninsured driver or if the driver cannot be traced.
Get legal advice if you need more information about this.
GB stickers and number plates
Display a Great Britain (GB) sticker on the rear of the vehicle and trailer, even if the vehicle has a number plate with the Euro symbol or a GB national identifier.
You do not need to display a GB sticker to drive in Ireland.
Carry out international road haulage from 1 January 2021.
What UK goods vehicle operators need to do to carry out international road haulage if there's a no-deal Brexit.
Get the right operator licence
From 1 January 2021, the operator licensing requirements for journeys to, through or from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will change. You will still need a standard international operator licence, but there may be other requirements. Further details will be provided later in 2020.
Get the right permits
From 1 January 2021, you may need an ECMT or other additional permits for international journeys to and through EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Further details will be provided later in 2020.
Register your vehicle trailers
You must register these types of trailers before you drive to or through most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway:
- commercial trailers weighing over 750kg
- non-commercial trailers weighing over 3,500kg
Register your trailer to take it abroad now.
Abnormal load trailers
You now need a keeper’s certificate for an abnormal load trailer to use it abroad. Keep the certificate in the vehicle to show at border crossings.
Some countries measure abnormal loads differently from the UK. Check with each country you’re travelling through to find out if the load you’re transporting counts as abnormal there.
Apply for a keeper’s certificate for an abnormal load trailer to use it abroad now.
Vehicle registration documents
Your drivers will need to carry your vehicle registration documents when driving abroad for less than 12 months. This can be either:
- the vehicle log book (V5C), if you have one
- a VE103 to show you’re allowed to use a hired or leased vehicle abroad
ECMT international road haulage permits
Permits to travel to or through European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) member countries, and the rules you have to follow.
The ECMT scheme includes all EU countries (except Cyprus) and these 17 countries:
Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the UK.
What you need ECMT permits for
You need an ECMT permit to transport most types of goods (or drive an empty vehicle) through the EU (except Cyprus), Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the UK to these 13 countries:
Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine.
Cyprus is not part of the ECMT scheme. You cannot use an ECMT permit to transport goods through Cyprus to ECMT countries.
What you do not need ECMT permits for
You do not need ECMT permits for journeys in 2020 entirely within the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the UK. You can still use your EU Community Licence for international road haulage until 31 December 2020, even though the UK has left the EU.
You can transport some types of goods without ECMT permits. Check pages 11 and 13 of the ECMT user guide for the list.
What you cannot use ECMT permits for
You cannot use ECMT permits:
- to travel through ECMT countries to countries that are not in the scheme
- for cabotage (loading and unloading goods for hire or reward between 2 points in a country by a vehicle that’s not registered in that country)
ECMT member countries
Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the UK.
To apply for an ECMT permit, you must:
- have a vehicle operator licence for Great Britain or a vehicle operator licence for Northern Ireland
- have Euro VI or Euro V emissions standard vehicles (depending on the type of permit you’re applying for)
Apply for permits
You can buy 30-day permits if you plan to travel through the EU (except Cyprus), Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland in 2020 to one of these countries:
Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey or Ukraine.
How to buy the permits
Email DVSA to buy the permits.
DVSA International Road Haulage Permits Office
You need to include:
- your operator licence number
- the journey destination (it must be either Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey or Ukraine)
- proof that you’ll be travelling to this country in 2020 (for example, a contract to import and export, or evidence of recent or regular to the country)
- how many permits you need
- which type of vehicle you’ll use (Euro V or Euro VI)
- the vehicle registration numbers (number plates)
- the vehicle and trailer types and makes
- the vehicle identification numbers (VINs)
- the vehicle engine types and numbers
To buy permits, you need:
- your username and password to manage your vehicle operator licence
- a debit or credit card to pay the application fee
When you sign in, select the Permits tab
Click Here to Start Now
You have to pay £20 for each individual permit. You pay £10 immediately, and then another £10 to have the permit issued when your details have been checked.
Rules for using the permits
You can use an ECMT permit to make an unlimited number of journeys within:
- a calendar year, if you have an annual permit
- 30 days of the start date on the permit, if you have a short-term permit
You can only use your original permit. You cannot:
- make copies of it
- transfer it to other vehicle operators or businesses
- use it in more than one vehicle at a time
Do not laminate the permit, as it may be stamped at checkpoints by competent authorities.
Example - If you have 10 ECMT permits, you can have a maximum of 10 vehicles making journeys to or through ECMT countries at once.
When a vehicle returns to the UK, you can move the permit to another vehicle on your operator licences. That vehicle can then make journeys to or through ECMT member countries.
If you have more than one vehicle operator licence
You can use an ECMT permit for a vehicle assigned to any of your operator licences. It’s not allocated to a specific operator licence.
Rules for the vehicles and trailers
You cannot use ECMT permits you’re allocated:
- for unaccompanied trailers or semi-trailers
- with vehicles of a different Euro emissions class to that shown on the permit
Get an ECMT ‘certificate of compliance’ for vehicles and trailers
You must carry an ECMT ‘certificate of compliance’ in your vehicle and trailer. They must confirm the vehicle meets the correct Euro emissions standard and the trailer meets the technical safety requirements.
If your permit application is successful, request a certificate from your vehicle or trailer manufacturer, or contact DVSA for advice.
DVSA International Road Haulage Permits Office
Get an ECMT ‘certificate of roadworthiness’ for vehicles and trailers
You must carry an ECMT ‘certificate of roadworthiness’ for your vehicle and trailer.
If your permit application is successful and you do not already have a certificate, email DVSA to get one.
DVSA International Road Haulage Permits Office
Meet the ECMT Quality Charter
You must meet the ECMT Quality Charter when you use ECMT permits.
If you have a standard international operator licence
You already meet the requirements of the charter if you have a standard international operator licence
If you have a restricted or standard national operator licence
If you have a restricted or standard national operator licence you need to:
- have a transport manager
- give proof you have the higher levels of financial standing needed for a standard international licence
You can also apply for a standard international licence before the UK leaves the EU to show you meet the ECMT Quality Charter.
Fill in the 30-day permit before a journey
You need to write in the ‘valid from’ and ‘valid to’ dates on your permit before the journey.
Fill in the ECMT log book before a journey
Each ECMT permit comes with a log book.
Before you start a journey, you must fill in the permit’s log book (in pen, not pencil) with a full record of all the journey’s details. Use a permanent ink pen.
If you make a mistake, cross the words out neatly. Make sure the mistake is still readable, as they may be checked.
What drivers need to carry during journeys
The driver will need to carry these documents for all of the outward and return journey:
- the ECMT permit
- the ECMT permit log book
- the ECMT certificate of compliance for the vehicle and trailer
- a certificate of roadworthiness for the vehicle and trailer
The driver must show the documents at control checkpoints when asked to do so.
Find out how different ECMT member countries carry out checks
Check what other vehicle documents and driver documents the driver needs to carry on international journeys.
!!! It’s illegal to not have the right documents for your journey. Your driver can be fined for not carrying them !!!
Send journey records to DVSA
The ECMT log book contains a duplicate (carbon copy) of journey records.
You must send the duplicate records to DVSA within 2 weeks of the end of the month the journey ended in.
International Road Haulage Permits Office
386 Harehills Lane
Lost, damaged or stolen permits
Contact DVSA straight away if you lose or damage a permit, or if one is stolen.
You should also tell the police if a permit is stolen.
DVSA International Road Haulage Permits Office
Telephone: 0330 678 1117
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Find out about call charges
If you give up your operator licence
You need to return your ECMT permits and log books to DVSA if you apply to give up (‘surrender’) your vehicle operator licence.
Haulage jobs in the EU
As a goods vehicle operator, when you get a standard international licence you’ll automatically get an EU Community Licence.
You can carry out a limited number of cabotage and cross-trade jobs in an EU country if you’re a UK haulier with an EU Community Licence. The jobs must follow a journey where goods were transported from the UK or an EU country.
Cabotage and cross-trade jobs
Cabotage is the loading and unloading of goods for hire or reward in one EU country by a vehicle registered in a different EU country.
Cross-trade is the haulage of goods between 2 EU countries by a vehicle registered in another EU country.
You can still carry out cabotage and cross-trade jobs in the EU even though the UK is no longer a member.
When and where UK hauliers can carry out cabotage and cross-trade jobs
You can only carry out up to 3 jobs in 7 days within the host country.
EU countries which allow cabotage and cross-trade are:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden
Hauliers from these countries can also carry out cabotage jobs in the UK, subject to the same conditions.
You may have to register for and pay VAT in the country where the journey took place.
Your right to carry out cabotage or cross-trade jobs may be removed temporarily or permanently if you breach safety rules.
Check local traffic conditions and road rules
Before you travel you should check:
- if there are disruptions or delays at the at UK and EU ports and Eurotunnel
- the road rules for European countries
- travel advice for the countries you’re driving through
Source: Department for Transport, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain