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

Requirements for UK goods vehicle drivers driving abroad

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you will need extra documentation to drive a lorry or a truck in the EU and EEA.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019, you may also need one or more international driving permits (IDPs) to drive a lorry or a truck 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, you 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 the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019

You can continue to use your 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

You 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 the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019, 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 and Norway

The UK has signed transport agreements with Switzerland and Norway. The agreements mean that you can continue to drive in Switzerland and Norway using a Community Licence after the UK leaves the EU.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019, you will need an ECMT permit for journeys through EU or EEA countries to Switzerland.

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 31 October 2019, some EU and EEA countries may also require a separate Green Card as proof of insurance for trailers.

If you take an abnormal load trailer outside the UK you must apply for a keeper’s certificate for an abnormal load trailer. You need to keep the keeper’s certificate in your vehicle when you go abroad.

Driver CPC for lorry drivers

You need a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification to drive a lorry 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.

If you work, or plan 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.

A Driver Qualification Card (DQC) is proof of a Driver CPC qualification in these countries:

  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland (also accepts driving licence as proof of Driver CPC)
  • France
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Luxembourg (accepts DQC as proof of Driver CPC only for non-resident drivers)
  • Norway (in the future will only accept driving licences as proof of Driver CPC)
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • UK

Some EU countries do not recognise the DQC. Instead, they add a ‘code 95’ to a driving licence photo card as proof of a Driver CPC qualification. These countries are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Finland (also accepts DQC as proof of Driver CPC)
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg (accepts driving licence as proof of Driver CPC only for resident drivers)
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Slovenia

To exchange a UK Driver CPC in these EU countries, you first need to exchange your UK driving licence for a local driving licence. You can only do this if you are resident in the EU country in which you work.

If you do not live in the EU country in which you work, your employer may be able to get you a Driver Attestation Certificate once the UK has left the EU.

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 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 when the UK leaves the EU 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 the UK leaves the EU. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 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.

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 31 October 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 31 October 2019, 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 on 31 October 2019, 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.

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.

See also

Published 14 January 2019
Last updated 30 May 2019 + show all updates
  1. How to exchange a UK Driver CPC for an EU Driver CPC.
  2. 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.
  3. Updated the guidance on applying for ECMT permits, as applications for 2019 permits closed at 11:59pm on Saturday 16 March 2019.
  4. Background to Operation Brock, the contingency plans to manage freight traffic on the major roads leading to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel.
  5. Update on ECMT permits and clarification on the rules for Driver CPC and displaying GB stickers.
  6. Changes to vehicle number plate, registration document and insurance requirements for all UK lorry and goods vehicle drivers driving in the EU after Brexit.
  7. First published.