Following the UK’s Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU in 2021, some of the rules for transporting goods in the EU will be changing in 2022.
Let’s take a look at what these changes mean for road haulage drivers and businesses, from vehicle types and paperwork to financial expenses.
Summary of the new rules for international road haulage
The new rules will affect anyone who operates a courier service between the UK and Europe, or transports and delivers goods within Europe.
This includes cars and trailers, vans, light goods vehicles (LGVs), and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). The series of changes will apply in two stages, enforced from different dates throughout 2022.
Firstly, certain journeys in Europe must be registered through an online service from February 2022. Secondly, companies using certain vehicles to transport goods in and out of the UK will need a vehicle operator licence from May 2022.
EU road haulage changes from 2nd February 2022
If you intend to transport goods within the EU using cars, vans, or HGVs from this date, then you must register the journey online first. You can sign up for email alerts about the new online registration service, which is still in development.
This applies if you will be moving goods from one point to a second point in the EU, Iceland, Norway, or Liechtenstein for commercial purposes, using a vehicle registered in the UK.
It includes cabotage jobs (loading goods in one of these countries and unloading them at a different point in the same country), and cross-trade jobs (loading goods in one of these countries and unloading them in a different country).
It also applies if you’re moving goods within or between these countries for your own business use, even if your main business isn’t the movement of goods.
Which journeys don’t need to be registered?
If your vehicle is not carrying goods, then you won’t need to register to travel within these areas. You also won’t have to register the journey if you’re travelling from:
- The UK to one place in Europe (both loading and unloading goods)
- The UK to more than one place in Europe (unloading goods only)
- Europe to the UK (loading goods at more than one place in Europe, but not unloading goods within Europe)
- The UK to a non-European country (but not loading or unloading goods within Europe)
If you operate a vehicle from Northern Ireland, you may need to register journeys within the Republic of Ireland if they fall under the rule changes.
Which documents are required for a postings declaration?
Drivers carrying out these kinds of journeys are sometimes known as posted workers, and registering a journey is sometimes called a postings declaration.
There won’t be a fee to register a journey, but there will be legal penalties for failing to register if you’re stopped in another country without the right papers.
To register an eligible journey, you’ll need to provide the following information:
- Vehicle operator licence number (if applicable)
- Driver names, addresses, and driving licence numbers
- Transport manager contact details
- Employment contract details (type and start date)
- Vehicle registration numbers (including trailers)
- The journey’s estimated start and end dates
UK-registered haulage drivers and couriers must continue to carry either physical or digital copies of the following documentation when transporting goods in Europe:
- Vehicle and trailer documents
- Driver documents (including tachograph records)
- Export documents (including paper or electronic consignment note)
However, from 2nd February 2022, the enforcement authorities in any EU country you travel through – plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway – can ask you to provide further documents.
For example, they might ask about your pay or timesheets, and you must upload the relevant evidence to the online service within 8 weeks to avoid legal penalties.
If you fail to upload the information in time, the Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain or the Transport Regulation Unit in Northern Ireland can take further action against you.
EU road haulage changes from 21st May 2022
The second set of changes applies to using vehicles and trailers over 2.5 tonnes to transport goods into and out of the UK. To do this from this date onwards, you’ll need an international goods vehicle operator licence to move goods within the EU, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland.
This applies if you’re based in Britain or Northern Ireland and use cars, vans, or light goods vehicles (including tow trailers). The new rules cover vehicles such as:
- Vans with a maximum authorised mass between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes (2500kg to 3500kg)
- Vans or cars towing trailers with a gross train weight between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes
You won’t need a vehicle operator licence if you only use the vehicles in the UK or if you’re moving goods on a non-commercial basis (not for hire or reward).
What if I already have a vehicle operator licence?
If you have a standard licence, you’ll need to add vans, cars, and trailers within the size limits if you intend to use them to transport goods between the UK and Europe for commercial reasons.
There’s no fee to add these vehicles if you haven’t reached the maximum yet. However, it will cost £257 to increase the vehicle limit as a ‘major variation’ to the licence. The licensing fees will be different in Northern Ireland.
In order to add vehicles and trailers to your fleet, you must prove your ‘financial standing’. This means you need to have a certain amount of finance for each vehicle:
- £8,000 for the first vehicle
- £4,450 per additional HGV
- £800 per additional van, car, or trailer
Once you register these vehicles, your transport manager will be legally responsible for them.
How do I get a vehicle operator licence?
If you don’t already have a standard licence, then you’ll need to apply for one before you can make these journeys using these vehicles. It costs £257 to apply, and the licence itself will cost £401 if your application is successful. You’ll have to pay a £401 continuation fee to renew it every five years.
You’ll also need to prove your access to adequate finances. This must be at least £1,600 for the first vehicle and £800 for each additional vehicle in your fleet. For example, if you have five vans, then you’d need £1,600 for the first van and £800 for the remaining four, for a total of £4,800.
You must also have a transport manager to oversee things like administration, route planning, delivery schedules, vehicle maintenance and tax, and compliance with industry regulations. This can be any person who has managed fleets for 10 years (prior to 20th August 2020), or any qualified person with a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).
For the former, current plans mean that this type of temporary transport manager can only fulfil this role until May 2025, and only by passing a CPC exam during this time. Whether you appoint a member of staff with or without a CPC, or hire an external qualified professional, the transport manager must maintain up-to-date knowledge of industry policies.
In addition to the vehicle operator licence, drivers must carry a UK Licence for the Community when transporting goods internationally. When you apply for a vehicle operator licence for the first time, it includes this at no extra cost.
When can I register for the EU 2022 changes?
As the platforms for these new policies are currently still in development, it’s not possible to register journeys or vehicles, nor can you sign up to be a temporary transport manager just yet.
If these rule changes will affect you, the government is advising people to register for email updates from the DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency). You should then be notified of ongoing developments, and they’ll let you know when the online services are active.
As providers of European and international haulage services, we’re always paying attention to industry legislation amendments at John K. Philips. If any of the changes mentioned in this article apply to you and/or your business, be sure to keep up and stay on the right side of the law.