Prepare to drive in the EU after Brexit: lorry and goods vehicle drivers

What truck and lorry drivers from the UK may need to do to drive in the EU and EEA when the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.

Requirements for UK goods vehicle drivers driving abroad from 29 March 2019

From 28 March 2019, lorry and truck drivers from the UK will need extra documentation to drive in the EU and EEA.

This includes registering certain trailers with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and carrying a trailer registration certificate.

In the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK lorry and truck 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 ECMT permits

Currently, UK lorry drivers carrying out international journeys must have a standard international operator’s licence along with a community licence for journeys to, from or through the EU and EEA.

Vehicles under 3.5 tonnes (including vans) and drivers operating on own account (carrying their own goods) do not need an international operator’s licence or Driver CPC.

If there is no EU Exit deal

EU and EEA countries may not recognise UK issued community licences from 29 March 2019 if there is no EU Exit deal.

If that happens, the UK government is confident it can negotiate new bilateral agreements or reinstate old ones with EU countries to provide haulage access.

However, ECMT international road haulage permits will allow UK operators to drive in the EU and EEA (except Cyprus) if UK issued community licences are not recognised. ECMT permits are also recognised in 15 other countries.

There are limited numbers of annual and short term ECMT permits available.

Haulage in the Republic of Ireland

Regulations were passed in Parliament in November 2018 which confirmed that the UK government does not require Northern Ireland hauliers to carry permits when on international journeys to, or through the Republic of Ireland.

This is in keeping with the UK government’s position in the Road Haulage and Trailer Registration Act that we will not introduce permits on the island of Ireland without the consent of the Government of Ireland.

If you have a Northern Ireland operator’s licence, you will not need an ECMT permit for a journey to the Republic of Ireland.

If you have a Great Britain operator’s licence, you should apply for an ECMT permit if you plan to drive in the Republic of Ireland from 29 March 2019, and no agreement is in place.

Prepare for ECMT permits

You can no longer apply for ECMT permits for 2019. Applications were open from 26 November 2018 to 18 January 2019.

Find out what happens next if you applied for an ECMT permit

Investigate alternative options for transporting your goods to the EU and EEA.

Register for updates on GOV.UK and via DVSA email alerts.

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.

Prepare for trailer registration

More about trailer registration.

Driver CPC for lorry drivers

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

From 29 March 2019, in the event that there is no EU Exit deal, EU and EEA countries may not recognise UK-issued Driver CPC.

UK drivers will still be able to operate in the EU with a UK-issued Driver CPC when driving vehicles covered by an ECMT permit, or any existing, reinstated or new bilateral arrangement.

UK nationals working for EU companies and driving in the EU and EEA will need a Driver CPC issued by an EU or EEA country.

Before 29 March 2019 drivers can exchange their UK Driver CPC for an EU Driver CPC. To do this, drivers must apply to the relevant body in an EU or EEA country.

Prepare for lorry 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 29 March 2019, in the event that 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 should not need an IDP to drive in Ireland from 29 March 2019 as Ireland does not currently 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 29 March 2019. From that date, in the event that 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.

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, including in the EU and the EEA.

You can display the distinguishing sign as either a GB sticker or a GB sign on your number plate.

From 29 March 2019, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you may need a GB sticker even if your vehicle has a Euro-plate (a number plate displaying both the EU flag and a GB sign).

You will not need a GB sticker to drive outside the UK if you replace a Euro-plate with a number plate that features the GB sign without the EU flag.

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

Vehicle registration documents

From 29 March 2019, in the event that 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 29 March 2019, in the event that there is no EU Exit deal, there may be changes in the:

See also

Published 14 January 2019
Last updated 1 February 2019 + show all updates
  1. Changes to vehicle number plate, registration document and insurance requirements for all UK lorry and goods vehicle drivers driving in the EU after Brexit.
  2. First published.