Driving dangerous goods and special loads abroad

Carrying perishable foodstuffs in road vehicles


If you carry perishable foodstuffs abroad in an insulated refrigerated vehicle or container, many countries require you to comply with the Agreement on the international carriage of perishable foodstuffs and special equipment to be used for such carriage (ATP). If you own or operate a vehicle to transport perishable foodstuffs across international borders between countries that are signatories to ATP, you must have an ATP certificate for that vehicle.

In general, ATP's provisions prescribe the norms and standards for:

  • preserving the quality of perishable foodstuffs during their international transport - ie are the goods insulated, refrigerated, mechanically refrigerated or heated as appropriate?
  • the special transport equipment required
  • checking that insulation is appropriate and intact
  • distinguishing marks to be affixed to the special equipment
  • the equipment and temperature conditions for deep-frozen and frozen foodstuffs

Your vehicle or container must carry a certificate or plate to show that it meets the standards for refrigeration and thermal efficiency laid down in the ATP. Checks on the certificate or plate may be made at borders or inside the countries concerned.

An ATP certificate is issued following an inspection of the vehicle or container by a 'Designated Station'. In the UK, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has approved Cambridge Refrigeration Technology as a 'Designated Station'. They are authorised to test, examine, and certify vehicles and containers in accordance with the ATP.

Note that non-processed - ie fresh fruit and vegetables are not included within the scope of ATP.