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 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019.

Requirements for UK bus and coach drivers when driving abroad

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019, you will need extra documentation to drive in the EU and EEA.

You may also need one or more international driving permits (IDPs) 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.

Occasional international services

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019, the UK will become an independent member of the Interbus Agreement. This will:

  • ensure that occasional services (coach holidays and tours) will continue immediately after EU Exit day
  • enable UK operators to run occasional services into all EU countries plus Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Turkey and Ukraine

Operators running occasional services will need to carry these documents onboard the vehicle:

Regular international services

The Interbus Agreement does not currently cover regular, scheduled services but is expected to soon.

The EU has passed a law which, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, will allow UK operators to continue operating regular, scheduled services to EU countries until 31 December 2019 or until the Interbus Agreement is extended to cover such services.

Only existing authorisations will be recognised, and no new authorisations for operating in the EU will be permitted once the UK has exited the EU.

If you have an authorisation for regular services into the EU that expires before 31 December 2019 you should renew it before the UK leaves the EU.

New authorisations will be permitted once the Interbus Agreement is extended, and existing authorisations will need to be replaced with a new form of authorisation.

Cabotage

Cabotage operations will only be permitted within the Irish border regions, and only as part of a regular (scheduled) service, until 30 September 2019. Neither the Interbus Agreement, nor the new EU law provides for cabotage more widely.

Cabotage will allow the picking up and setting down of passengers in the counties of Ireland adjoining the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland until 30 September 2019.

Access to third countries

Neither the EU law, nor the Interbus Agreement permits access to third countries or transit through the EU to reach a third country. This means that UK operators will not be able to run:

  • regular services to countries outside of the EU
  • occasional services to countries which are not in the EU or not part of the Interbus Agreement

This currently means that you will not be able to access markets such as Switzerland. However, due to the wording of the EU law and the Interbus Agreement, you may transit a third country if such an agreement is in place. This means, for countries such as Switzerland, UK operators may transit the country, but may not stop there. We are working to make sure that this issue is addressed urgently.

Driver CPC for bus and coach drivers

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

If you are operating on a non-commercial basis or driving vehicles with up to 8 passenger seats, you 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, you would be able to drive for work in the EU and EEA with a UK Driver CPC.

If you have a UK Driver CPC, and are currently working or planning to work for an EU company, you may want to exchange your 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 your UK Driver CPC will ensure that you can continue to work for both UK and EU companies after the UK leaves the EU.

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 changed.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019, you may need one or more IDPs as well as 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 when the UK leaves the EU as Ireland does not require IDPs to be held by driving licence holders from non-EU countries.

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 the UK leaves the EU. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on October 2019, 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

You must register commercial trailers weighing over 750kg and non-commercial trailers weighing over 3,500kg before towing them to or through most EU and EEA countries.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on October 31 2019, some EU and EEA countries may also require a separate Green Card as proof of insurance for trailers.

Register you trailer.

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, whether you currently have a number plate which includes the GB identifier or not.

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

Vehicle registration documents

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on October 31 2019, 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

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on October 31 2019, there may be changes in the:

Driving to the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel

There are 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 1 April 2019 + show all updates
  1. Update on occasional international services, regular international services, cabotage and access to third countries for UK bus and coach operators if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
  2. Background to Operation Brock, the contingency plans to manage freight traffic on the major roads leading to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel.
  3. Clarification on the requirement for Driver CPC and GB stickers.
  4. Changes to vehicle number plate, registration document and insurance requirements for all UK bus and coach drivers driving in the EU after Brexit.
  5. First published.