International haulage – preparing for Brexit

The UK’s Brexit transition period expires on 31 December 2020, with businesses across all sectors facing a raft of new rules from 1 January 2021. Those in the international road transport and haulage sector are arguably among those most affected by the changes that lie ahead. So, what will the sector look like post-Brexit?

Paperwork and permits
As many operators will already be familiar, post-Brexit requirements will include a lot more paperwork, which drivers will have to carry when journeying to, through or from the EU and some other countries. From 1 January, dependent on your journey and destination drivers of UK-registered haulage vehicles may have to carry:

  • The correct authorities– the current Community Licence is being phased out and replaced with a UK Licence for the Community. This will be issued automatically and must be carried while driving abroad.
  • The correct permits – drivers may need a permit to travel through European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) member countries. The ECMT application period has now closed and a significant number of applications will have been unsuccessful or only partially successful. Drivers may also need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some countries. Drivers may also need a Kent Access permit if carrying out an international journey and crossing the border to the EU via the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel (you will not need this permit if the vehicle is under 7.5 tonnes or leaving from a different port). Each of these permits will be valid for 24 hours and a driver could be fined up to £300 for entering Kent without the correct Kent Access Permit or for making false declarations when travelling to the Port of Dover of Eurotunnel.
  • Vehicle registration documents – which can be either the vehicle logbook or a VE103. These serve as proof that drivers are allowed to use a hired/leased vehicle overseas.
  • Customs documents – different documents will be required depending on the destination country and how the goods are being transported. Additional certificates may be required for certain goods, for example export health certificates or controlled drug export licences.
  • A Green Card – this acts as proof of motor insurance cover when driving abroad, and drivers will be required to carry one from 1 January 2021. Drivers may need to carry two Green Cards in certain circumstances, for example if you have fleet insurance or they are towing a trailer.
  • Driver documents – All UK drivers will need to carry their driver CPC qualification card whilse driving in the EU. Drivers may also need an international driving permit (IDP) in addition to their UK driving licence to drive in some EU and EEA countries as well as needing at least 6 months on a UK passport to travel. Rules are to be confirmed regarding whether UK drivers may need immigration permissions to undertake an international journey to the EU.

Driver CPCs
Driver Certificates of Professional Competence are required to drive a lorry professionally in the UK, the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland; these will still be needed after Brexit. Drivers working for UK companies and who hold a UK Driver CPC do not need to do anything. However, drivers who work for European companies but have a UK Driver CPC will need to exchange their UK Driver CPC for an EU one before Brexit, which will allow them to work for both EU and UK companies.

Drivers’ hours
From 1 January 2021, drivers of vehicles weighing over 3.5 tonnes will continue to follow EU rules on drivers’ hours and tachograph use for international journeys. These rules changed on 20 August 2020 to incorporate the following:

  • Weekly rest periods are not to be taken in the vehicle’s cab, but rather in “suitable gender-friendly accommodation outside the vehicle”, which must be covered by the employer.
  • Drivers are now required to return home every four weeks.
  • Drivers must carry certain documents pertaining to drivers’ hours rules on their person, including:
  • Tachograph charts/any legally required manual records for the previous 28 days.
  • A digital smart card, if the driver holds one.

Operation Brock
Operation Brock is the name assigned to a traffic management system designed to keep Kent’s roads open in the event of delays at the Port of Dover or the Eurotunnel.

When the system is in force, HGVs travelling to either destination will have to follow signed routes; drivers caught trying to take alternative routes to avoid the system will be turned around and could be fined £300.

Untangle the rules with the help of our Road Transport team
Operators, drivers and transport managers should continue to monitor Government guidance. Although negotiations are ongoing, Government guidance has been published “Transporting goods between Great Britain and the EY from 1 January 2021: guidance for hauliers and commercial drivers” at Transporting goods between Great Britain and the EU from 1 January 2021: guidance for hauliers and commercial drivers – GOV.UK .

Woodfines, Road Transport & Logistics lawyers are following the latest government guidance and can help haulage companies and Operators to make the transition safely and in full compliance with the law.

To get in touch, please email

-Charlotte Hunt 

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