International road haulage: HGV and trailer documents

Heavy goods vehicle (HGV) and trailer documents you need to legally cross international borders in a UK-registered vehicle.

Your vehicle must be taxed and you must carry certain documents about your HGV and trailer with you if you drive a commercial vehicle carrying goods between countries. These include:

  • the vehicle and trailer registration documents
  • certificates for any specialist approvals the vehicle has
  • a goods vehicle operator licence disc
  • licences or permits needed for the journey
  • vehicle and trailer insurance documents
  • a UK sticker (previously a GB sticker)

There’s separate guidance about the HGV driver documents you need for international road haulage.

Vehicle and trailer registration documents

Your need to carry your vehicle registration documents when driving abroad for less than 12 months. This can be either:

  • the vehicle log book (V5C), if you have one
  • a VE103 to show you’re allowed to use a hired or leased vehicle abroad

There are different rules if you take the vehicle out of the UK for 12 months or more.

Trailer registration certificate

You need to carry the trailer registration certificate when you travel abroad.

Find out how to register your trailer to take it abroad.

If you have an abnormal load trailer

You also need to carry a ‘certificate of keeper’ if you have an abnormal load trailer.

Certificates for specialist vehicle approvals

You need to carry any documents about specialist approvals your vehicle has. These might include approvals for:

Goods vehicle operator licence disc

You must display a valid operator licence disc for either:

Haulage licences or permits needed for the journey

You need to carry copies of the licences or permits that are needed for the journey you’re making.

Check which international road haulage permits you need to carry.

If you’re carrying out a job within an EU country (cabotage)

You need to carry extra documents about the load you’re carrying if you’re doing a cabotage job.

If you’re using an ECMT permit

If you’re using a European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permit, you also need to carry:

  • an ECMT certificate of compliance for the vehicle and trailer
  • an ECMT certificate of roadworthiness

Find out more about ECMT permits.

Vehicle insurance and green cards

You must have suitable motor insurance cover when you drive abroad.

In some countries, you will need to carry a ‘green card’ as proof of the insurance cover.

Where you need green cards

You need a green card to drive in:

  • Albania
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Iran
  • Israel
  • Moldova
  • Morocco
  • Russia
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

You do not need a green card to drive in the EU (including Ireland), Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia or Switzerland.

When you need more than one green card

You will need to carry more than one green card if:

  • you have fleet or multi-vehicle insurance - you’ll need a green card for each vehicle
  • your vehicle is towing a trailer - you’ll need one for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer (you need separate trailer insurance in some countries)
  • you have 2 policies covering the duration of your trip, for example, if your policy renews during the journey

You must carry a physical copy of your green card when driving abroad. Electronic versions of green cards are not acceptable.

Make sure your employer has got green cards

Make sure your employer either:

  • contacts their vehicle insurance provider at least 6 weeks before you travel to get a copy
  • prints green cards their insurance providers electronically send to them (this does not need to be printed on green paper)

When you will have to show your green cards

You will need to show green cards if you’re involved in an accident.

Find out more about vehicle insurance.

If you’re involved in a road accident

Contact your insurance provider if you’re involved in a road accident in the EU.

Any legal proceedings against either the responsible driver or the insurance provider of the vehicle will need to be brought in the EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway where the accident happened. You might have to make your claim in the local language.

You will not get compensation in some countries if the accident is caused by an uninsured driver or if the driver cannot be traced.

Get legal advice if you need more information about this.

Goods insurance

In some countries, you may need to produce a certificate of insurance for the goods carried to avoid paying a premium.

Check the rules with the British Embassy in the countries you’re travelling through or to.

UK stickers (previously a GB sticker)

You do not need a UK sticker if either:

  • your number plate includes the UK identifier on its own or with the Union flag (also known as the Union Jack)
  • you’re driving in Ireland

You must display a UK sticker clearly on the rear of your vehicle if your number plate has any of the following:

  • a GB identifier with the Union Flag (also known as the Union Jack)
  • a Euro symbol
  • a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales
  • numbers and letters only - no flag or identifier

If you’re in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you must display a UK sticker no matter what is on your number plate.

If you have an old-style GB sticker, cover or remove it.

Vehicle security checklist

You must secure your vehicle to stop people using it to enter the UK illegally.

Record the checks you do on the vehicle security checklist.

Vehicle tolls, charges or taxes

You may have to pay a:

  • vehicle toll or charge in EU countries
  • vehicle tax in some non-EU countries

Some non-EU countries have an agreement with the UK that means that registered goods vehicles are exempt from these taxes.

Countries currently charging visiting foreign goods vehicles to use their roads include:

Austria, Belarus, Bosnia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Check locally for the latest, most up-to-date information about road charges and taxes.

You may need to carry paperwork, stickers, payment cards or electronic toll devices to use roads abroad.

Vehicle emission levels and controls

Many European towns and cities are Low Emission Zones (LEZ). This means that vehicles are not allowed in (or charged a fee) if their emissions are above a certain level.

Check the European Low Emissions Zone website to find out which areas are LEZs and what you must do to enter them.

Fuel duty and value added tax

When you buy motor fuel in the UK the price includes tax. When you take your vehicle abroad some countries may charge additional tax on the fuel in your tanks.

Taxes on UK fuel entering EU countries

There’s no limit on the amount of fuel that you can carry between EU countries in ‘standard tanks’, provided that it remains in these and is not off-loaded.

Some EU countries (including Belgium and France) interpret a ‘standard tank’ differently and say that supplementary tanks fall outside this category.

In these countries, for a tank to qualify as a ‘standard tank’, you must be able to show that:

  • it’s of a type that was permanently fitted by the manufacturer to all motor vehicles of the same type as the vehicle in question
  • its permanent fitting enables fuel to be used directly for propulsion or, where appropriate, by refrigeration or other systems

In Belgium and France, authorities might say that ‘catwalk tanks’ and ‘belly tanks’ do not meet these rules. You might be charged additional duty or fined when carrying fuel in these tanks.

Find information on the fuel you can legally use in a road vehicle.

Published 7 September 2012
Last updated 1 April 2022 + show all updates
  1. Removed information about carrying a letter to prove your MOT has been extended due to coronavirus (COVID-19), as all extensions have now expired.

  2. Changed GB stickers to UK stickers as you'll need to use a UK sticker on your vehicle to drive abroad.

  3. From 28 September 2021, you’ll need a UK sticker instead of a GB sticker on your vehicle to drive abroad.

  4. Updated the 'Vehicle insurance and green cards' section, as green cards are no longer needed to drive in the EU (including Ireland), Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia or Switzerland.

  5. Insurance green cards will not be needed from 2 August 2021 to drive in the EU (including Ireland), Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia or Switzerland.

  6. Added a section on using a vehicle security checklist to record the checks you do to to stop people using your vehicle to enter the UK illegally.

  7. Added a section on the haulage licence and permit documents you need to carry. Added a section on the certificates you need to carry for any specialist vehicle approvals you have. Updated the section on vehicle and trailer insurance to confirm the rules for carrying ‘green cards’. Updated the section on GB stickers to confirm the new rules on when they must be displayed.

  8. Added information about carrying a letter to prove your MOT has been extended due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

  9. Removed reference to 'tax disc'.

  10. Updated guide on taking your vehicle abroad for 12 months or more.

  11. First published.

  1. Step 1 Apply for operator licences and permits

    1. Check if you need a vehicle operator licence
    2. Apply for a vehicle operator licence

    You'll need other licences and permits, depending on the countries you're driving to or through.

    1. Check which licences and permits you need
  2. Step 2 Register and get approval for your vehicle

    You may need to register your trailer to drive through or to the EU if it weighs over 750kg.

    1. Register your trailer to take it abroad

    You’ll need to get specialist vehicle approvals to transport any of the following:

  3. Step 3 Make sure your driver is eligible to drive abroad

  4. Step 4 Check the rules for the goods you're carrying

    1. Find out what you need to do if you're exporting your own goods

    There are rules for transporting certain goods. Your driver may need to follow set routes or stop at specific check points. Check the rules for:

    1. Find out what you need to apply for if you’re moving goods temporarily out of the UK

    If you're transporting goods outside the EU they must have been cleared by customs (given ‘permission to progress’). The exporter can tell you if this has happened.

  5. Step 5 Make sure your driver has the right export documents

    Your driver will need copies of:

    • any export licences
    • the road consignment note (‘CMR note’)
    • the Movement Reference Number (MRN) from the export declaration - if you're moving goods out of the EU
    • the MRN and the Local Reference Number (LRN) - if you're moving goods under the Common Transit convention (CTC)
    • the ATA Carnet document - if you're moving goods out of the EU temporarily
    • the TiR Carnet document - if you’re moving goods in a sealed load compartment with a seal number

    The exporter should be able to give all of these to you.

    You'll also need to have a customs seal approval certificate for the vehicle if you’re moving goods in a sealed load compartment. You'll get this when your vehicle passes the TiR test.

    You may need to use the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) to move goods through some ports.

    1. Check how to move goods through ports that use the GVMS
  6. Step 6 Find out what vehicle documents your driver needs to carry

  7. Step 7 Check you are ready for the Port of Dover, Eurotunnel or Holyhead

    You may need to attend an inland border facility if you're leaving from the Port of Dover, Eurotunnel or Holyhead.

    1. Check whether you need to attend an inland border facility
  8. Step 8 Check local road rules

    1. Check the road rules for European countries on the AA website
    2. Check travel advice for countries outside Europe

    When you have your documents, insurance and any extra equipment you need, you can transport goods abroad.