The Government has recently issued guidance to the freight transport industry on what steps may need to be taken by UK based goods vehicle operators in what they describe as "the unlikely event" that the UK leaves the European Union without a deal on "Brexit day" (29th March 2019).

ECMT Permits

Currently, UK goods vehicle operators undertaking international journeys must have a standard international operator's licence along with a community licence for journeys to, from or through the EU and EEA.  The Government recognises that from 29th March 2019, if there is "no deal" between the UK and the EU, it is possible that EU and EEA countries may decide not to recognise UK issued community licences.  Whilst the Government states it is confident that they would be able to negotiate new (or reinstate old) bilateral agreements with such countries to provide haulage access, it goes on to recommend that operators or their transport managers may wish to apply for "ECMT International Haulage Permits" for 2019.  ECMT permits will enable UK operators to drive in the EU and EEA (except for Cyprus) in the event that UK community licences are not recognised.

Operators wishing to ensure that they obtain an ECMT permit so that they are covered should no Brexit deal be done, must act quickly:  numbers of the permits are limited, and it is likely that they will be issued on a first come first served basis.  Additionally, applications for permits will open on 26th November and finish on 21st December 2018, so the window within which operators can apply is also limited.

Operators can apply online but to do so must have a Vehicle Operator Licence (VOL) Online Account - it is still possible for those operators that do not yet have an account to create one, but they need to do so by 12th November 2018.  Click here to go through to the Government application page.

Before applying for a VOL account, operators will need to collate historical data on their international journeys in order to complete the registration.  More details on this can be found here.


The Government has also advised that from 28th March 2019, all commercial trailers over 750kg and all trailers over 3,500kg must be registered before they can travel through countries that have ratified the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.  This includes countries in the EU, EEA and Europe, but not Spain, Cyprus and Malta.  A full list of these countries is given below:

Albania Andorra Armenia Austria Azerbaijan
Belarus Belgium Bosnia and Herzegovina Bulgaria Croatia
Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France
Georgia Germany Greece Hungary Italy
Kazakhstan Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg
Macedonia Moldova Monaco Montenegro Netherlands
Norway Poland Portugal Romania Russia
San Marino Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Sweden
Switzerland Ukraine      

In order to use trailers on international journeys in these countries the following steps will need to be taken;

  • Trailers will need to be registered with the DVLA
  • Trailers will need to display their own registration plate (separate from the vehicle that is towing them)
  • The driver of the towing vehicle will need to carry a valid Trailer Registration Certificate in order to present it to any foreign authority upon request.

Driver's Licensing

Finally, the Government has issued guidance on drivers licences post a no-deal Brexit.  It is advised that drivers will need one or possibly several International Driving Permits (depending upon which countries are to be travelled through) to drive in the EU.  More information on this aspect can be found here.

Of course, nothing is certain at this stage in the negotiations, and come what may there will inevitably be much uncertainty:- so it is wise to hope for the best, but plan for the worst!

If you would like help or assistance on this issue, then please call us on 01279 818280.

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