Guidance

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.

Haulage journeys to, in or through the EU and EEA

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

UK hauliers can continue to use their EU Community Licence until 31 December 2019. You will not need any extra permits to transport goods in EU countries until 1 January 2020.

You’d be allowed to do these types of journeys:

  • journeys to and from the UK, for example, a journey from the UK to Germany, or a journey from Italy to the UK
  • driving through EU countries to reach another EU country, for example, driving through France to reach Spain
  • limited cabotage or cross-trade – the rules on what you can do will change from the day the UK leaves the EU

Hauliers will not be allowed to drive through the EU and EEA to a third country, for example, driving through France to get to Switzerland, without an ECMT permit.

If you get a new international operator licence or renew your licence from April 2019, you will get a ‘UK Licence for the Community’ instead of an EU Community Licence. This will work in the same way as the EU Community Licence. It will let you do the same journeys a Community Licence allows. The same rules will apply to using it. You do not need to exchange EU Community Licences for UK Licences for the Community.

Arrangements for haulage in the EU after 2019 are not yet agreed.

Haulage in the Republic of Ireland

If there is no deal, you can use your Community Licence for journeys to and from Ireland, journeys through Ireland to other EU or EEA countries, or journeys through Ireland between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Haulage in Switzerland

The UK has signed an agreement with Switzerland on the international carriage of passengers and goods by road. The agreement ensures that UK hauliers can continue to drive in and through Switzerland using a Community Licence after the UK leaves the EU.

If there is no EU Exit deal, you will need an ECMT permit for journeys through EU or EEA countries to Switzerland.

EU hauliers driving in the UK

EU hauliers will continue to be able to move goods in the UK as they do now. This includes journeys to and from the UK, through the UK and cabotage within the UK. EU hauliers’ Community Licences and CPC documents will be recognised. EU hauliers will not require ECMT permits to operate in the UK.

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.

Driver CPC for lorry drivers

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

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.

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 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.

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 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:

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. 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.

Before you travel, check if delays are possible at the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel and check if Operation Brock is active. If Operation Brock is active, check online for advice and look out for road signs telling you where to go.

Plan ahead if you travel during Operation Brock.

See also

Published 14 January 2019
Last updated 21 March 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated to confirm you can continue to use your EU Community Licence until 31 December 2019 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, and that you would need an ECMT permit to transport goods through EU or EEA countries to non-EU or non-EEA countries who are ECMT members.
  2. Updated the guidance on applying for ECMT permits, as applications for 2019 permits closed at 11:59pm on Saturday 16 March 2019.
  3. Background to Operation Brock, the contingency plans to manage freight traffic on the major roads leading to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel.
  4. Update on ECMT permits and clarification on the rules for Driver CPC and displaying GB stickers.
  5. Changes to vehicle number plate, registration document and insurance requirements for all UK lorry and goods vehicle drivers driving in the EU after Brexit.
  6. First published.