Carry out international road haulage after Brexit

What UK goods vehicle operators need to do to carry out international road haulage if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

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The UK will leave the EU on 31 October. This page tells you how to prepare for Brexit. It will be updated if anything changes, including if a deal is agreed.

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Get the right operator licence

You must have a standard international operator licence for journeys to, through or from the EU and European Economic Area (EEA).

You also need an EU Community Licence. You can use your existing community licence until 31 December 2019, even if there’s a no-deal Brexit. This will let you:

  • do journeys from the UK, for example, a journey to Germany
  • do journeys to the UK, for example, a journey from Italy
  • drive through EU countries to reach another EU country, for example, drive through France to Spain
  • do a limited amount of cabotage or cross-trade jobs from the day the UK leaves the EU

If you apply for or renew your operator licence after a no-deal Brexit

You’ll get a ‘UK Licence for the Community’ if you apply for or renew your operator licence after a no-deal Brexit. This will be instead of an EU Community Licence.

The UK Licence for the Community works in the same way as the EU Community Licence. The same rules apply for using it.

Get the right permits

You can complete most international journeys until 31 December 2019 without extra permits. This includes if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

Journeys until 31 December 2019 if there’s a no-deal Brexit

You can still use your existing EU Community Licence until 31 December 2019 if the journey is entirely within the EU or EEA.

You will need European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permits for journeys through EU and EEA countries to ECMT countries not in the EU or EEA. These countries are:

Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine.

Example You will need an ECMT permit to drive through France to deliver goods in Switzerland after a no-deal Brexit.

You will be able to buy these ECMT permits from 30 August 2019.

Journeys from 1 January 2020 if there’s a no-deal Brexit

Check back for updates about how international road haulage permits will work from January 2020.

Haulage in Ireland

You will not need extra permits for haulage in Ireland if there’s a no-deal Brexit. You’ll still be able to use your EU Community Licence for journeys:

  • to and from Ireland
  • through Ireland to other EU or EEA countries
  • through Ireland between Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Haulage in Switzerland and Norway

You’ll still be able to drive in Switzerland and Norway using an EU Community Licence if there’s a no-deal Brexit. However, you’ll need an ECMT permit for the part of your journey through EU and EEA countries.

Cabotage and cross-trade jobs

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

Cross-trade is the haulage of goods for hire or reward between 2 EU countries by a vehicle registered in a different EU country.

The number of cabotage and cross-trade jobs you can do will reduce if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

Until 31 December 2019

You’ll be allowed to carry out 2 cabotage or cross-trade jobs within 7 days of making an international journey until 31 December 2019.

From 1 January 2020

Check back for updates about how cabotage and cross-trade will work from January 2020.

Own account journeys

‘Own account’ journeys are where either:

  • your vehicle is only carrying goods in connection with your own business
  • your delivery contents are not for hire or reward

You’ll be able to do own account journeys to EU countries until 31 December 2019. You’ll be allowed to do 2 extra operations within 7 days of first loading or unloading in the EU.

You’ll also be allowed to do own account journeys in these countries without any extra permits if there’s a no-deal Brexit:

Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine and the UK.

Exporting and importing goods

Check what you need to do now to make sure you’re still able to:

Register your vehicle trailers

You must now register these types of trailers before you drive to or through most EU and EEA countries:

  • commercial trailers weighing over 750kg
  • non-commercial trailers weighing over 3,500kg

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.

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

Display GB stickers

Display a GB sticker on the rear of your vehicle. Do this even if you have a number plate which includes the GB identifier.

Vehicle and trailer insurance

A ‘green card’ is proof you have motor insurance cover when driving abroad. Your drivers will need to carry one for the vehicle they’re driving if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

You’ll need 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

Contact your vehicle insurance provider at least one month before you need green cards.

What to do if your vehicle is involved in a road accident

You may need to bring legal proceedings in the EU or EEA country against either the responsible driver or the insurer of the vehicle if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

You might not get compensation if the accident is caused by an uninsured driver or if the driver cannot be traced. This will vary from country to country.

Get legal advice if you need more information about this.

What lorry and goods vehicle drivers need to do

Check what your lorry and goods vehicle drivers need to do to prepare to drive in the EU after Brexit. This includes:

  • getting international driving permits (IDPs)
  • considering exchanging their Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification if they work for an EU company
  • renewing their passport early enough
  • having the right type of travel insurance with healthcare cover
Published 8 August 2019
Last updated 29 August 2019
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