Guidance

Prepare to drive in the EU after Brexit: bus and coach drivers

What bus and coach drivers from the UK may need to do to drive in the EU and EEA when the UK leaves the EU on 12 April 2019.

Requirements for UK bus and coach drivers when driving abroad

From 12 April 2019, bus and coach drivers from the UK will need extra documentation to drive in the EU and EEA.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK bus and coach drivers may also need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in the EU and EEA.

Stay informed

Some of these requirements may change depending on the terms that the UK leaves the EU. Bookmark and revisit this web page or sign up for email alerts to stay up to date.

Community licences and the Interbus Agreement

Currently, UK bus and coach operators carrying out international journeys must hold a standard international operator’s licence and a community licence for journeys to, from or through the EU and EEA.

As a member of the EU, the UK participates in the Interbus Agreement. This agreement allows bus and coach operators to carry out occasional services between the EU and 7 eastern European countries.

From 12 April 2019, if there is no EU Exit deal, EU countries may not recognise UK issued community licences. The UK’s participation in the Interbus Agreement through EU membership would also cease.

The UK intends to re-join Interbus as an independent member on 12 April 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter. This would enable UK operators to run occasional services (coach holidays and tours) into the EU.

There are plans to extend the Interbus Agreement to provide for regular services (scheduled international coach services), but this has not taken effect yet.

The Interbus Agreement does not allow cabotage. So, a UK operator would not be able to pick up and drop off the same passengers within the EU.

If necessary, the UK will also seek to put in place bilateral agreements with countries at the earliest opportunity to provide bus and coach access to the EU.

The UK has signed road transport agreements with Switzerland and Norway. The agreements ensure that UK commercial bus and coach drivers can continue to drive in Switzerland and Norway after the UK leaves the EU.

Prepare for the Interbus Agreement

Operators of occasional services

The Interbus arrangements for occasional services are very similar to the current EU arrangements. Coach holiday and tour operators should consider what they would need to do if there is a gap between 12 April 2019 and Interbus coming into force. For example, could you contract coach travel to EU-based operators?

Operators of regular services

We do not know when Interbus will cover regular services. Operators of scheduled international coach services should consider what they would need to do until then. For example, could you contract coach travel to EU-based operators?

Driver CPC for bus and coach drivers

Bus and coach drivers need a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification to drive in the EU and EEA.

Drivers operating on a non-commercial basis or driving vehicles with up to 8 passenger seats do not need a Driver CPC.

The UK will continue to recognise Driver CPC qualifications from EU countries after EU Exit.

The EU may not recognise UK-issued Driver CPC qualifications after EU Exit.

When the UK joins the Interbus Agreement, UK bus and coach drivers with a UK Driver CPC would be able to drive for work in the EU and EEA.

Anyone in possession of a UK Driver CPC, and currently working or planning to work for an EU company, may want to exchange their UK Driver CPC for an EU Driver CPC before the UK leaves the EU. Apply to the relevant body in an EU or EEA country to exchange a UK Driver CPC.

Exchanging a UK Driver CPC will ensure that drivers can continue to work for both UK and EU companies after the UK leaves the EU.

Prepare for bus and coach Driver CPC

Determine if you should exchange your UK Driver CPC for an EU or EEA Driver CPC.

Check who needs Driver CPC to drive a lorry, bus or coach.

Become a qualified lorry or bus driver.

Driving licences and international driving permits

On 28 March 2019, the type of international driving permit (IDP) that some countries outside of the EU and EEA recognise will change.

On 12 April 2019, if there is no EU Exit deal, you may need an IDP in addition to your UK driving licence to drive in EU and EEA countries.

If you hold a UK driving licence you will not need an IDP to drive in Ireland from 12 April 2019 as Ireland does not require IDPs to be held by driving licence holders from non-EU countries.

Prepare for IDP changes

Check which IDPs you may need.

Driving licence exchange for UK nationals living in the EU

If you are a UK licence holder living in the EU or EEA you should exchange your UK driving licence for a local EU driving licence before 12 April 2019. From that date, if there is no EU Exit deal, you may have to pass a driving test in the EU country you live in to be able to carry on driving there.

More about exchanging your UK driving licence.

Trailer registration

From 28 March 2019, you must register commercial trailers weighing over 750kg and non-commercial trailers weighing over 3,500kg before they can travel to or through most EU and EEA countries.

More about trailer registration.

Number plates and national identifiers

Under international conventions, GB is the distinguishing sign to display on UK-registered vehicles when driving outside of the UK.

Following the UK’s exit from the EU, it is recommended that you display a GB sticker on the rear of your vehicle, irrespective of whether you currently have a number plate which includes the GB identifier.

More about displaying number plates, flags, symbols and identifiers.

Vehicle registration documents

From 12 April 2019, if there is no EU Exit deal, you should continue to carry your vehicle registration documents with you when driving abroad for less than 12 months. This can be either:

More about vehicle registration documents for international road haulage.

Vehicle insurance and road traffic accidents

From 12 April 2019, if there is no EU Exit deal, there may be changes in the:

Driving to the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel

There are contingency plans to manage freight traffic on the major roads leading to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel. These plans, activated in times of cross-Channel disruption, are known as Operation Brock. These measures are designed to minimise disruption to non-freight traffic. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, Operation Brock may be activated if there are significant delays at the border between Dover and Calais.

EU bus and coach operations in the UK after EU Exit

EU bus and coach operators wanting to run regular coach services into the UK will be able to continue using their existing authorisations.

EU bus and coach operators who wish to renew or get a new authorisation for a regular coach service into the UK will need to apply to the relevant UK body. This replaces the current system where they would apply through a body in their home country.

See also

Published 14 January 2019
Last updated 12 March 2019 + show all updates
  1. Background to Operation Brock, the contingency plans to manage freight traffic on the major roads leading to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel.
  2. Clarification on the requirement for Driver CPC and GB stickers.
  3. Changes to vehicle number plate, registration document and insurance requirements for all UK bus and coach drivers driving in the EU after Brexit.
  4. First published.