International road haulage permits

Transport goods in and out of the UK using vans or car and trailers from 21 May 2022

Guide

From 21 May 2022, you’ll need a standard international goods vehicle operator licence to transport goods in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

This will apply to you if you’re based in Great Britain or Northern Ireland and use:

  • vans or other light goods vehicles (sometimes called ‘light commercial vehicles’)
  • vans towing trailers
  • cars towing trailers

You’ll need to either:

  • add the vehicles to your goods vehicle operator licence (if you already have one)
  • get a goods vehicle operator licence for the first time

Check if the new rules apply to you

The new rules will apply to you if you use:

  • vans with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) over 2,500kg (2.5 tonnes) and up to and including 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes)
  • vans towing a trailer with a gross train weight (GTW) over 2.5 tonnes and up to and including 3.5 tonnes
  • cars towing a trailer with a GTW over 2.5 tonnes and up to and including 3.5 tonnes

You will not need a goods vehicle operator licence if any of these apply:

  • you only use your vehicles in the UK
  • you are transporting goods on a non-commercial basis (not for ‘hire or reward’)

Get legal advice if you’re not sure if the rules will apply to you.

If you already have a goods vehicle operator licence

You’ll need to add your vans and car and trailers to your existing goods vehicle operator licence to transport goods in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You will not need to assign them to an operating centre.

You’ll be able to add your vehicles to your operator licence later in 2021 - you cannot do it yet. Sign up for email alerts to be told when you can add them.

The Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain or the Transport Regulation Unit in Northern Ireland will be able to take action against you if you do not add the vehicles to your licence.

How much it costs
There’s no fee to add the vehicles to your licence if you have not reached your vehicle limit.

However, you will need to pay a fee to make a ‘major variation’ if you need to increase the vehicle limit on your licence.

Changes to your ‘financial standing’
By law, you need to prove that you have access to a set amount of finance to run your business (called ‘financial standing’). The amount you need depends on how many vehicles you have.

You must have £8,000 available for the first vehicle in your fleet. You need an extra:

  • £4,450 per additional HGV in your fleet
  • £800 per additional van or car and trailer in your fleet

Changes to your transport manager’s responsibilities
Your transport manager will become legally responsible for all the vehicles on your operator licence, in addition to the HGVs and trailers already on it.

If you do not have a goods vehicle operator licence

You’ll need to get a goods vehicle operator licence to continue using your vans or car and trailers to transport goods in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

You’ll need to apply for a standard international licence - this lets you transport your own and other people’s goods.

You can apply for an operator licence later - you cannot do it yet. Sign up for email alerts to be told when you can apply.

The Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain or the Transport Regulation Unit in Northern Ireland will be able to take action against you if you do not get a licence.

How much it costs
Find out more about goods vehicle operator licensing fees in Northern Ireland.

Finance that you must have available
By law, you need to prove that you have access to a set amount of finance to run your business. The amount you need depends on how many vehicles you have.

You must have £1,600 available for the first vehicle in your fleet. You need an extra £800 per additional vehicle in your fleet.

Example
You have a fleet of 5 vans.

You need to have £1,600 for the first van.

You then need £800 each for the remaining 4 vans (£800 × 4 = £3,200).

You need to prove you have access to funds of at least £4,800 (£1,600 + £3,200).

Getting a transport manager
You’ll need to have a transport manager. This is someone responsible for things such as:

  • planning routes and scheduling delivery times
  • managing your team of drivers and administration staff
  • making sure drivers follow company and industry regulations
  • arranging vehicle maintenance, MOTs and tax payments
  • organising vehicle replacements

You’ll be able to either:

  • use an existing member of staff (including yourself) who is not qualified as a transport manager, but has managed fleets of vehicles for at least 10 years before 20 August 2020
  • employ someone with a transport manager qualification (called a Transport Manager Certificate of Professional Competence - or ‘CPC’)
  • hire in an external qualified transport manager

Option 1: use someone who does not have a Transport Manager CPC
If you decide to use someone who does not have a Transport Manager CPC, they will need to prove they have at least 10 years of experience managing fleets of vehicles before 20 August 2020.

They’ll be able to apply to have their experience recognised as ‘acquired rights’ to be a transport manager. This means that they’ll be treated as having the Transport Manager CPC for a period of time.

They’ll be able to apply online later in 2021 to get acquired rights as a transport manager - they cannot do it yet. Sign up for email alerts to be told when they can apply.

The government has proposed they will have acquired rights until 20 May 2025, but this could change. During this time, they’ll need to pass a Transport Manager CPC exam.

After they’ve qualified, they’ll need to keep up a high-quality professional knowledge of transport industry rules and policies. They can take transport manager refresher courses to help them do this.

Option 2: employ someone with a transport manager qualification
You can employ someone with a Transport Manager CPC qualification.

You need to make sure they keep up a high-quality professional knowledge of transport industry rules and policies.

Option 3: hire in an external transport manager
You can ‘hire in’ an external transport manager. They’re not someone on your payroll, but they have a contract with you to act as your transport manager.

You must:

  • have a contract with them that sets out the tasks they’ll perform as your transport manager
  • make sure they only work for a maximum of 4 vehicle operators (including you), managing no more than 50 vehicles in total across all the operators

Documents your drivers will need to carry

Your drivers will need to carry a certified copy of your UK Licence for the Community during international journeys.

If you’re applying for a vehicle operator licence for the first time, you’ll get a UK Licence for the Community as part of your application for a standard international operator licence. There’s no extra fee for them.