What UK goods vehicle operators need to do to carry out international road haulage.
New rules for transporting goods in vans in Europe
You now need a goods vehicle operator licence and a transport manager to transport goods in vans in Europe.
This applies to businesses of every size, including sole traders.
Apply for operator licences and permits
To transport goods internationally by road, you need either a:
- standard international operator licence for Great Britain
- standard international operator licence for Northern Ireland
You will need other licences and permits, depending on the countries you’re driving to or through.
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
Abnormal load trailers
You 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.
Get specialist vehicle approvals
You will need to get specialist vehicle approvals if you want to transport:
Get the right vehicle documents
Your driver will need to carry the right vehicle documents with them during international journeys. These include:
- vehicle registration documents
- vehicle and trailer insurance documents
- UK stickers (previously GB stickers)
- vehicle operator licences and permits
Your drivers do not need an insurance green card to drive in the EU (including Ireland), Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia or Switzerland. You must still have suitable insurance.
Make sure your driver is eligible to drive abroad
Your driver will need to carry the right documents about themselves with them during international journeys. These include:
- a valid UK driving licence
- a valid Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) card
- a valid passport
- an international driving permit (IDP) if they need one for the countries they’re travelling in
- healthcare documents
Make sure you’re ready to import and export
You need to follow rules about import and export licences, getting an EORI number, classifying goods, getting your goods through customs, and keeping records.
There’s different guidance if you’re moving goods in and out of Northern Ireland.
Complete a road consignment (CMR) note
A road consignment (CMR) note is a standard contract used by companies who want to use a provider to transport goods internationally by road.
The CMR note confirms that the haulage company has received the goods and has a contract from the supplier to carry them.
You must have a CMR note on all international journeys if you’re carrying goods on a commercial basis.
The CMR note can be filled in by either:
- you (the haulier)
- the company sending the goods abroad
- a freight forwarder
You will need 3 copies of a CMR note, including one:
- for the supplier of the goods
- for the eventual customer
- to accompany the goods while they are being transported
Declare you’re transporting goods inside the EU
Before your drivers transport goods between 2 points in the EU for commercial purposes, you must declare the details on an EU portal.
- cabotage jobs
- cross-trade jobs
- moving goods for your own business’ use
You will get penalties if you do not make a declaration.
Check an HGV is ready to cross the border (Kent Access Permit)
You no longer need a Kent Access Permit (KAP) to enter Kent.
Follow Kent traffic management plans
These measures are known as ‘Operation Brock’ and apply to HGVs over 7.5 tonnes if there’s severe disruption to services from the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel.
Customs and document checks away from ports
Inland border facilities are UK government sites where customs and document checks take place away from port locations.
The facilities act as a government office of departure (for outbound journeys) and a government office of destination (for inbound journeys). You can start and end journeys at the facilities when moving goods in and out of the UK.
Checks carried out at inland border facilities
These checks are carried out at the facilities:
- 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)
Your drivers may need to go to an inland border facility if they enter 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
Your drivers may also be directed to an inland border facility:
- because they are not border-ready
- for a document or physical inspection of their load
Tell HMRC that you’re going to be attending an inland border facility
You should tell HMRC in advance that you’re attending an inland border facility because the goods you’re moving:
- are going to an office of departure or office of destination (starting or ending a transit movement)
- are covered by an ATA Carnet
- need a CITES permit
This will help you get processed on site as quickly as possible.
Check local road rules
Some EU countries limit the times and days when HGVs can be driven on public roads.
Contact the British Embassy in the country for advice on whether restrictions will apply to your route.
What to do if your vehicle is involved in a road accident
Your drivers should contact their insurance provider if they’re involved in a road accident in an EU country.
Any legal proceedings against either the responsible driver or the insurance provider of the vehicle need to be brought in the EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway, depending on 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.