Carry out international road haulage from 1 January 2021

What UK goods vehicle operators need to do to carry out international road haulage from 1 January 2021.

New rules for January 2021

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.

This page tells you what you’ll need to do from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.

You can also read about the transition period.

Stay up to date

This page explains what goods vehicle operators need to do to carry out international road haulage from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.

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Use the Check an HGV is ready to cross the border service.

Read the haulier handbook: Transporting goods between Great Britain and the EU from 1 January 2021.

Visit an advice site at a motorway services or truckstop for in-person advice.

Carry 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.

Hauliers with a EU Community Licence will automatically be issued with a replacement UK Licence for the Community for use from 1 January 2021. A copy of the new UK Licence for the Community should, in all circumstances, be carried on board all vehicles when working in the EU from 1 January 2021.

You will still need a  standard international operator licence.

Get the right permits

From 1 January 2021, you may need an ECMT or other additional permits for journeys to or through the EU.

You can no longer apply for ECMT permits for 2021. Applications closed on Friday 20 November 2020.

Find out more about ECMT permits.

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
  • VE103 to show you’re allowed to use a hired or leased vehicle abroad

Vehicle and trailer insurance

A ‘green card’ is proof of motor insurance cover when driving abroad. Your drivers should plan to carry one for the vehicle they’re driving in the EUEEA, Switzerland and Andorra from 1 January 2021, including in Ireland.

Your drivers will need to carry multiple green cards if:

  • you have fleet insurance – you’ll need a green card for each vehicle
  • their vehicle is towing a trailer – they will need one for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer (separate trailer insurance is needed in some countries)
  • there are 2 policies covering the duration of the trip, for example, if the policy renews during the journey

Contact your vehicle insurance provider at least 6 weeks before you need green cards.

More about vehicle insurance.

Display GB stickers

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 and a GB national identifier.

You do not need to display a GB sticker to drive in Ireland.

Check an HGV is ready to cross the border

You’ll be able to use the Check an HGV is ready to cross the border service to prove that an HGV has the right EU import and commodities documents for the goods it’s carrying before it crosses the GB / EU border.

You must use this service for HGVs travelling via the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel to get a ‘Kent Access Permit’ before they enter Kent. It is the responsibility of the driver to do the check, but this can be done on their behalf by their manager.

You can be fined £300 if you do not use the Check an HGV is ready to cross the border service when you travel via the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel, or if you provide a fraudulent declaration.

It will be optional to use the service for all other GB ports.

Follow Kent traffic management plans

From 1 January 2021, there will be new measures to manage traffic flow in the event of disruption to Kent’s road network.

These measures are known as ‘Operation Brock’ and will apply to HGVs over 7.5 tonnes if there’s severe disruption to services from the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel.

Inland border facilities

Inland border facilities (IBFs) are UK government sites where customs and document checks can take place away from port locations. IBFs will be operational from 1 January 2021.

IBFs will act as a Government Office of Departure (for outbound journeys) and as Government Office of Destination (for inbound journeys). Hauliers can start and end journeys at IBFs when moving goods in and out of the UK.

Checks for the following movements will be carried out at IBFs:

  • Common Transit Convention (CTC), also known as Transit
  • ATA carnet
  • Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR) carnet
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

Hauliers may need to go to an IBF if they have:

  • entered the UK or plan to exit the UK via Dover, Eurotunnel or Holyhead and need:
    • to start or end a CTC movement
    • CITES checks
    • an ATA carnet or TIR carnet stamped
  • been directed there because they are not border ready
  • been directed there for a document or physical inspection of their load

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

If your drivers are involved in a road accident in an EU country they should in the first instance contact their insurance provider.

From 1 January 2021, any legal proceedings against either the responsible driver or the insurance provider 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 may 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.

What lorry and goods vehicle drivers need to do

Find out what your drivers need to do to drive professionally in the EU from 1 January 2021.

Published 25 February 2020
Last updated 14 December 2020 
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