International road haulage: driver documents

Documents you need to carry if you’re the driver or a passenger in a lorry or other heavy goods vehicle (HGV) that crosses international borders.

Documents you must carry

You must carry certain documents with you if you drive or travel as a passenger in a commercial vehicle carrying goods between countries.

There’s separate guidance about the vehicle documents you need for international road haulage.

Make a checklist of the customs and other legal documents that you need for each of the countries you’ll enter.

Driving licences and international driving permits

Driving licences

You must have the right category of licence for the vehicle you’re driving.

You can use your current UK licence to drive the categories of vehicle for which it is entitled in all EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries.

Find out more about driving abroad.

Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) card

You need a Driver CPC qualification to drive in the EU and EEA. You’ll get a Driver CPC card (it’s sometimes called a ‘driver qualification card’ or ‘DQC’).

You must carry this card while driving a lorry professionally.

You do not need to Driver CPC if you’re driving a vehicle under 3.5 tonnes (including vans), or are only carrying your own goods (sometimes called ‘own account’ traffic).

International driving permit

You might need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some non-EUcountries.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020), you might also need an IDP to drive in all EU and EEA countries, apart from Ireland.

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

Check if you need an IDP and find out how to apply

Passports and visas

You must have a number of documents ready to show when making trips out of the UK.


You must have a valid passport – even if you’re a passenger or crew member.

Check the expiry date and the entry rules of the countries on your route.

Some countries may require a passport to be valid for a certain period after entry. For example, to enter Turkey you must have 6 months left on your passport.

Check the ‘entry requirements’ section for the countries you’re planning to visit.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020), the passport validity rules for travel to most countries in Europe will change. Check that your passport will meet these new rules and find out if you need to renew it.


If you have a UK passport (or any EU passport) you do not need a visa to enter other EU countries.

You may need a visa if you’re travelling outside the EU.

Check the ‘entry requirements’ section for the countries you’re planning to visit.

Drivers’ hours documents and tachographs

If you drive a goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes on international journeys you must follow the EU rules on drivers’ hours and tachograph use.

You must have:

  • tachograph charts and any legally required manual records for the current day and the previous 28 calendar days
  • the driver’s digital smart card, if you hold one

If you’ve been sick or taken other time off in the 28 days before your journey carry a form (called an ‘attestation form’) from your employer.

Insurance and medical documents

In some countries, drivers are legally responsible for their loads, whether or not they know of the contents.

Leave photocopies of all medical, insurance and legal documents as back-up with family or friends in case you need copies outside of your company’s normal business hours.

In some EU and other countries your vehicle must carry warning equipment, such as visibility clothing and warning triangles and spare bulbs.


Make sure you have comprehensive insurance before travelling. Check for any exclusions and that your policy includes:

  • medical
  • health
  • personal liability
  • legal expenses cover
  • 24-hour emergency assistance

Find out more about foreign travel insurance.

European Health Insurance Card

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free, on the same basis as a resident of EU and EEA countries and Switzerland.

An EHIC covers you for necessary treatment until your planned return. It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions.

The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020), your access to healthcare when visiting the EU, the EEA and Switzerland is likely to change. Continue to buy travel insurance so you can get the healthcare treatment you need, just as you would if visiting a non-EU country.

Find out more about healthcare abroad.

Cabotage documents

Cabotage is the haulage of goods for hire or reward between 2 points in a country by a vehicle that is not registered in that country.

You must be able to prove that you’re operating within the rules for cabotage. You must have documents with you showing the:

  • name, address and signature of the sender and haulier
  • place and the date of taking over of the goods and the place designated for delivery
  • name and address and signature of the international consignee with the date of delivery
  • common description of the goods, method of packing, number of packages and their special marks or numbers
  • gross mass of the goods or their quantity otherwise expressed
  • number plates of the motor vehicle and trailer

Find out more about cabotage.

Fuel duty and value added tax

When you buy motor fuel in the UK the price includes tax. When you take your vehicle abroad some countries may charge additional tax on the fuel in your tanks.

Taxes on UK fuel entering other countries

Under EU rules there’s no limit on the amount of fuel that may be carried between member states in standard running tanks, provided that it remains in these and isn’t off-loaded.

An EU directive defines what constitutes ‘standard tanks’, but the definition is open to differing interpretation, particularly in France and Belgium. These countries sometimes claim that supplementary tanks fall outside this category. For a tank to qualify as a ‘standard tank’, a driver must be able to show that:

  • it’s of a type that was permanently fitted by the manufacturer to all motor vehicles of the same type as the vehicle in question
  • its permanent fitting enables fuel to be used directly for propulsion or, where appropriate, by refrigeration or other systems

French and Belgian authorities sometimes claim that ‘catwalk tanks’ and ‘belly tanks’ fail this qualification. Drivers of vehicles are sometimes charged additional duty, or even fined, when carrying fuel in such tanks.

Find information on the fuel you can legally use in a road vehicle.

Published 3 September 2012
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