New European Rules to Come Into Force in May

The UK government has announced that new regulations will start to be enforced from May that will cover any courier or road haulage firm that wishes to operate overseas. Not only do the new rules cover all travel within the European Union – following the UK’s departure from that trading bloc – but it also involves any commercial driver who intends on travelling through Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway, all non-EU states, of course. According to the government, these rules will begin being applied from 21st May 2022. They follow the introduction of other new regulations that were introduced at the start of February. From 2nd February this year, all commercial operators transporting goods in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have already needed to officially declare that is what they are doing. So, what are the new rules and how will they affect owner drivers and other commercial road hauliers? Read on to find out.

According to the current government guidance, the soon-to-be introduced rules will mean changes for any firm or individual who transports goods to, through or within Europe. The changes have come about because of the UK’s deal with the EU – officially known as the Trade and Cooperation Agreement – that was struck in 2020. It is worth bearing in mind that the new rules will not just apply to lorry drivers and people who operate heavy goods vehicles because vans and other light goods vehicles also feature within the changing regulatory framework. This means anyone who operates a European courier service is likely to have to comply. This even includes drivers who transport commercial goods in their cars if they will be making use of a trailer.

In the vast majority of cases, people who are moving goods commercially within Europe will require a vehicle operator licence and a transport manager. So, you won’t only have to declare that you are transporting commercial commodities within the EU – as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – but you will have to also – declare when you intend on travelling between two points in the EU. Any firm that has drivers who operate HGVs, vans or trailers will have to log onto an EU portal to say where they are coming from and where they are heading to. Owner-operators will also be expected to make the same declarations prior to driving to a UK port and embarking on a journey into Europe from a roll on-roll off ferry service.

To be clear, the use of the EU portal to make the newly required declaration does not cost the driver or their firm anything. It is simply that one needs to be made or drivers may be turned back at the border. Declaring the details of a journey into Europe will be known as a posting declaration. Although no fees for making a posting declaration will be levied, this constitutes another layer of complexity that drivers who travel from the UK to European destinations must take into consideration. Bear in mind that a posting declaration isn’t just required when leaving the UK for Europe, however. As a British-registered driver, if you pick up goods in Italy and transport them to Denmark, for example, you will also need to make a posting declaration for that sort of job, as well.

To break that down a little, the UK government’s current advice is for drivers of UK-registered vehicles to make a posting declaration if they are undertaking any cabotage work. This would include and jobs which involve loading goods in any EU country – plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – and then unloading them at another location in the same country. Posting declarations are also advised for cross-trade jobs that involve collecting goods in one of the aforementioned countries and then delivering them to another state within the bloc. The same rules will also apply to drivers who are transporting their own goods from one business address in the EU to another. This would affect larger businesses, for example, those that wish to shift their own stock in a UK-registered vehicle from the Netherlands to Germany and vice-versa. The rules on posting declarations will not apply to drivers who are using EU-registered vehicles, however, even if the firm they are working for is British.

Although the rule changes are likely to make a big difference to owner drivers, house removals firms, freight forwarders and courier companies that operate in continental Europe from time to time, it is important to note that it will also affect those who ply their trade on the island of Ireland, too. In short, declarations of commercial journeys within the Republic of Ireland will need to be made, as well, and this includes vehicle operators who are registered in Northern Ireland. Very few exemptions will apply when the scheme is introduced in May. For example, operators won’t be obliged to declare when their drivers are transporting an empty commercial goods vehicle, only when it is being used to actually deliver consignments. The latest advice that the government has published also states that a posting declaration is not required when a driver will be transporting goods from the UK to a non-European country. However, this will mean that they won’t be permitted to either load or unload any goods while they are en route within Europe.

To them prepare for the rule changes when they come into force, haulage firms and owner-operators can already create an account for themselves on the EU portal. Given that an account must already be created for a company to be able to declare a journey, it is the one of the few practical things that firms can do to ensure they are ready. Once a company account has been created, users can invite other people from their haulage or courier firm to share the same access rights. Further information on how to do this is now available at where there is a help section that answers most of the common questions about the registration process. There is also a tutorial video that has been prepared in advance of the regulatory change.

Nevertheless, the creation of a posting declaration account is not intended to be a difficult task. According to the UK government, hauliers and couriers will need only basic information about their company, transport manager (if they have one) and their employees. To break that down, the company information that will be needed includes the firm’s name, its address and its country of registration. On top of this users will need to declare an email address they want correspondence to be sent to as well as their VAT number, their company registration number and their UK Licence for the Community number. In terms of transport manager information, similar information is required, such as the name, office address, telephone number and email address of the manager in question. In addition, you will need the transport manager’s CPC certificate number.

Finally, owner-operators will need to enter some personal information about themselves into the system. This includes their full name, their date of birth, their email address and their home address. Other required driver information includes their driving licence number and any internal reference number they may have, such as their employee payroll number, for example. Companies that employ multiple drivers will need to enter this sort of information for all their employees who make journeys from the UK to Europe. Employers will also be required to state how long a driver has been employed under contract with a haulage firm although this will not apply to owner-operators. However, both employed and self-employed drivers will need to produce some form of personal ID. This will usually be their passport’s document number, its issue date, its expiry date and a declaration of where the passport was issued. Without such information being registered on the system already, making a full posting declaration is likely to be delayed and, in the worst cases, not possible at all.

Although the idea of making a posting declaration every time a journey is made in Europe with a UK-registered commercial vehicle is likely to be something couriers and road haulage firms could do without, it will mean that well-run companies will be able to streamline their processes in a way that less well-organised ones might not. Importantly, although making a posting declaration for each individual journey a driver makes in each country might be all that is needed among firms that only make international deliveries from time to time, the rules allow for more frequent drivers to register another way. This is by making a posting declaration that will cover individual drivers for up to six months, covering all journeys he or she will make in each country during that period. In other words, the start and end dates of a posting declaration can be set to a maximum of six months after which point a new declaration will have to be made. Regardless of the length of time that a declaration covers, all drivers will need to have a physical – or digital – copy of their declaration on them for the duration of their journey to present, if requested by the authorities.