The Department for Transport has released guidance outlining the steps that UK hauliers should be taking over the coming months, as they may require new paperwork following EU Exit.
The government aims to reach an agreement with the EU which maintains the existing liberal access for commercial hauliers, however, it has prepared itself for the "unlikely" scenario in which no mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached.
The government says that one possible scenario is that UK hauliers are no longer able to rely on automatic recognition by the EU of UK-issued Community Licences and that it is confident it will be able to put in place agreements with the EU as a whole or with individual member states to ensure continued market access.
One possible option is to use the ECMT international haulage permit system.
The official guidance says: "We are putting in place a new automated system for the application and issue of those permits, which will open for applications in late November
"So we want to share the below information so hauliers will be ready for the ECMT application system, and are also aware of new requirements for the registration of commercial trailers with a gross weight over 750kg:
"UK hauliers may no longer be able to rely on automatic recognition by the EU of UK-issued Community Licences after we leave the EU
"To ensure continued normal operations in the EU, UK hauliers can apply for an ECMT international haulage permit.
"Hauliers wishing to apply for ECMT permits must be registered on the DVSA on-line Vehicle Operator Licencing (VOL) system by 12th November. We expect that the vast majority of operators concerned will already be registered on VOL and do not need to register again."
Applications for an annual ECMT permit for 2019 will need to be made in a time-limited window between Monday 26th November and Friday 21st December.
ECMT International haulage permits are issued to an Operator licence holder. That operator can use the permits for different vehicles at different times but the permit must be carried in a vehicle whilst it is making an international journey. The permit can be used for journeys between ECMT member countries, including transit journeys, whether laden or empty.
ECMT International haulage permits will be available to enable journeys to the EU, but they are limited in number and allocated according to certain criteria such as intensity of use
Hauliers will find out if they have received an annual permit early in 2019.
There will also be some monthly ECMT permits available next year. Applications for these will also be open at a later date and we will provide more guidance for hauliers ahead of this.
Further information about the process for issuing ECMT permits can be found here: (www.gov.uk/euexitdriving).
Separate registration of commercial trailers
The government also advices that in all Brexit scenarios, there are also new requirements for the separate registration of commercial trailers with a gross weight over 750kg used for international haulage to, or through, foreign countries who have ratified the 1968 Vienna Convention from next March. Trailers should be registered from January on the new DVLA Trailer Registration system – further information will follow
The dates for ECMT permit applications have been selected to ensure that hauliers have certainty and adequate time to make preparations ahead of EU exit in March. ECMT permits run for a calendar year – January to December, which is why applications need to open in November.
Hauliers may also need to take other steps to ensure they can operate in the EU after exit, such as applying for an International Driving Permit (IDP). The Government will continue to provide information about the further steps required.
The requirement for separate registration of commercial trailers with a gross weight over 750kg used for international business in, or through, foreign countries who have ratified the 1968 Vienna Convention will ensure UK operators driving on the continent can comply with the requirements of those EU countries which require the registration of certain trailers travelling on their roads.