Apply for an International Road Haulage Permit

Service Standard assessment report

Service Standard assessment report

Apply for an International Road Haulage Permit

From: Central Digital and Data Office
Assessment date: 12/06/2018
Stage: Alpha
Result: Met
Service provider: Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)

The service met the Standard because:

  • A multidisciplinary team is in place with a service manager who is empowered to take decisions.
  • The team could demonstrate a clear understanding of their users and how they had iterating and improving the service, to create a simple solution that can be built on as policy develops with UK withdrawal from the EU
  • The team are working collaboratively with colleagues in policy, engagement, operations and other departments. And also working closely with trade bodies to ensure that users are kept up to date in a time of uncertainty

About the service


The Apply for an International Road Haulage Permit service will allow UK hauliers transporting goods into Europe and beyond to apply for, be issued with and manage their permits so that they can continue to operate after the UK leaves the EU.

Existing community licences will be decommissioned as part of exiting Europe and a new service of International Road Haulage Permits will be introduced as well as including existing manual permits.

In alpha the service team are focussing on the user journey for an existing permit (ECMT Permit) that will remain in place after EU exit. This will provide a simple base to build on as new permitting arrangements are negotiated. There are a limited number of ECMT permits available to hauliers.

Service users

The users of this service are licensed vehicle operators.


User needs

Due to ongoing EU exit negotiations the team is challenged in being able to provide specific information to their users. However, the assessment panel felt the service team is aware of user needs and is working effectively to continue to understand their needs.

The service team has undertaken a range of user research and testing to date. The team is using multiple research techniques including usability testing, in-depth interviews and focus groups. The assessment panel was pleased with the amount and range of research. The service team is considering quantitative survey research to gather anonymous feedback from a larger target audience.

Research suggests that users are comfortable with the current paper-based process, but the majority can successfully complete the application online. As there are a limited number of permits available to users the the team must carry out further research into how users will react and how to support users if permits become unavailable. And they should further test with assisted digital users of the full end to end service to ensure that appropriate options are identified to support the digital service. In particular, what options could be used outside the hours of the contact centre.

There was no evidence of usability testing with those responsible for enforcement - police, borders agency or foreign border agencies, or with DVSA staff processing applications. The team should consider usability testing with these users in the future.

There is a plan in place for user research in the beta phase and the team is to conduct that user research. There was little evidence of a plan in place to knowledge transfer from the supplier to DVSA staff.

There has been some testing undertaken during Alpha with hauliers that have a low number of vehicles in their fleet – three companies with one vehicle; fifteen companies with two or three vehicles and one company with 55 vehicles in their fleet. The assessment team felt it it would be worth conducting research with haulage companies that have 50 or more vehicles as part of their fleet. And also in a wider range of locations within the UK.

Even though there is ambiguity around EU exit, the team should consider usability testing additional scenarios to be better prepared for likely outcomes, for example single journey permits. And should be able to explain how usability research has been used to provide confidence in any chosen approaches, given the difficulty of inviting users to private Beta due to the limited numbers of permits.


The team is to be commended on their approach to the assessment. Their slides, posters and demo were thorough and clearly communicated user needs, iterations and decisions in complex problem area to the panel.

The team should also be congratulated on the way that they are working collaboratively with colleagues in policy, engagement, operations and other departments. And also with trade bodies to ensure that users are kept up to date in a time of uncertainty. The service manager and team had been able to use findings from user research to influence negotiation positions and have plans to continue this relationship, which impressed the panel.

The team is passionate and knowledgeable about what they do. The whole team is involved in user research and analysis. They could explain the choices they have made coherently.

The team in Alpha is a suitable size and mix of skills. There are clear plans in place to grow the team for Beta with test and technical roles to fill.

The team have already made a date to test with the minister.


The Delivery Architect on the team is ultimately responsible for technical decisions, working closely with the Technical Architect. Rather than carry out a greenfield or serverless development, the Team decided it both more cost and time effective to make use of the existing vehicle operator licence (VOL) Service, composed of the LAMP Stack, Zen Framework and hosted on AWS cloud platform. The Alpha prototype used AWS shared service, DVSA GitHub to share, store and reuse code with HMRC. OLCS Verify and third party also contribute (technical assurance is also provided by a third party).

The service is classed as Official, having self-service users and a firewall to insulate internal systems architecture from external threats. Penetration testing will be done for Beta. Within the VOL Service the existing data owners are Northern Ireland transport authorities, DfT and the Traffic Commissioners. Detailed threat modelling has yet to be undertaken and this will need to be done for Beta. The Service is hosted in the Republic of Ireland (3 sites) and should the online service fail, the facility to download paper based application forms and manually complete and submit them will constitute the backup service.

For the Beta phase a Technical Governance Manager, Platform Engineer Lead and a Continuous Release Manager will be recruited. A bi-weekly technical steering group will meet to supervise work and progress will be disseminated using Confluence and JIRA. The Team are looking to use a Continuous Development Process but have requested guidance from GDS on what is expected technically e.g. sophistication of prototype to be acceptable at Beta. A business analysis team will be tasked with modelling any changes needed, resulting from EU Exit scenarios, as and when they can be anticipated and communicating the technical ramifications of these to the technical architects.


The team are basing the solution on current permitting processes, allowing them to, in the worst case scenario, be able to provide a minimal viable service to users as soon as the relevant bill reaches Royal Assent. The team will be able to iterate on the digital service once the outcome is clear.

Note updated 4 July 2018

Since the report has been created: The bill is expected to receive Royal Assent July 2018 MVP is expected to be delivered in October 2018.

The effort the team is making to share their research and what they’ve learned with policy colleagues, negotiating teams and with EU member states is good to see. They’ve prototyped and iterated user journeys based on user research showing examples of a variety of potential ways to solve problems.

The team had questioned existing processes, for example, when exploring whether they needed to use GOV.UK Verify to replace a wet signature when they discovered that the signature was unnecessary.

The panel would like to have seen how the paper application processing part of the service could be improved. Currently the user who is processing the paper forms has to manually type up and send data to the EU. The team must explore the journeys for how the permits will be processed by DVSA. This could become increasingly important as the service is expanded beyond the current simple service.

During beta the team must develop more joined up and simpler user journeys, doing some of the hard work to direct users to the right permit as early in their journey as possible. This will become increasingly important as the service is expanded beyond the current simple service when it’s likely that there will be more permit options and potential for permits to become unavailable. In one example shown in the prototype, the user is told they can’t continue to apply for the permit if their company carries out cabotage and is given no onward journey. This could be improved by sending them to guidance on finding relevant permits. But even better it would be good to see better signposting or routing of users to relevant permits that meet the user’s needs from the start of their journey so that user never encounters these errors, eg they aren’t shown permit options that don’t meet their needs or have become unavailable.

The team are aware that the user experience for payments is poor, and told us that DVSA are looking to move away from the current payment service. We would recommend using GOV.UK Pay.

The team had tested with some users with assisted digital and access needs and plan to work with the assisted digital community within DVSA during beta. They have a plain place to conduct accessibility audits in Beta.


The team have registered for a service performance dashboard and will publish cost per transaction and digital take-up performance data. They will use user satisfaction from a user survey and completion rate to inform decisions about the service once it is available to users.


To pass the Beta assessment, the service team must:

  • Explore and improve the way users are routed to relevant permits
  • Present a detailed threat model at the Beta assessment to support the technical architecture of this service
  • Carry out penetration testing
  • Explore how the application processing part of the service could be improved
  • Conduct further research with assisted digital users of the full end-to-end service to ensure that appropriate options are identified to support the digital service. In particular, what options could be used outside the hours of the contact centre

The service team should also:

  • Carry out user research and usability testing in more regions of the UK and in locations such as at the border.

  • Be able to explain how they have adequately tested the service in private Beta given the limitations of inviting users to use the limited number of permits, which are more needed in live

Next Steps

To get your service ready to launch on GOV.UK you need to:

Before arranging your next assessment you’ll need to follow the recommendations made in this report.

Get advice and guidance

The team can get advice and guidance on the next stage of development by:

Digital Service Standard points

Point Description Result
1 Understanding user needs met
2 Improving the service based on user research and usability testing met
3 Having a sustainable, multidisciplinary team in place met
4 Building using agile, iterative and user-centred methods met
5 Iterating and improving the service on a frequent basis met
6 Evaluating tools, systems, and ways of procuring them met
7 Managing data, security level, legal responsibilities, privacy issues and risks met
8 Making code available as open source met
9 Using open standards and common government platforms met
10 Testing the end-to-end service, and browser and device testing met
11 Planning for the service being taken temporarily offline met
12 Creating a simple and intuitive service not met
13 Ensuring consistency with the design and style of GOV.UK met
14 Encouraging digital take-up met
15 Using analytics tools to collect and act on performance data met
16 Defining KPIs and establishing performance benchmarks met
17 Reporting performance data on the Performance Platform met
18 Testing the service with the minister responsible for it met
Published 13 August 2018