The pre-Brexit guidance from the government was often late, sparse, and unclear. It is therefore unsurprising that the post-transition period has been one of mass confusion. The ongoing issues with COVID19 have only made the situation even more complex. With that in mind, Andrea, Head of Finance and Operations at Fleet Ex, has provided a quick guide to help you prepare your drivers for travel in the EU/EEA.
Check the COVID19 rules
Hopefully, this will only be a very temporary requirement. For now, however, it’s a very important one. What’s more, the rules are changing regularly and may vary from place to place. It’s therefore vital that you keep on top of them.
Make sure you have the correct operator licence
You still need the standard international operator licence. Post-Brexit, however, the Community Licence has been replaced by the UK Licence for the Community. This should have been issued automatically along with certified copies. Your drivers will need to carry this with them at all times while driving in the EU/EEA.
Check the ECMT rules
In brief, your UK Licence for the Community entitles you to carry out a maximum of two cross-trade jobs in the EU/EEA. For clarity, cross-trade refers to goods being transported between two countries in a vehicle registered to a third country.
Please note, however, that only one of those jobs can be cabotage. For clarity, cabotage relates to the act of loading and/or unloading goods in one country into and/or out of a vehicle registered in another country. Furthermore, you must complete the cabotage job within 7 days of unloading the goods you transported to the EU.
If you have a licence from the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT), you can undertake a third cross-trade job. The annual quota of ECMT licences for the UK has already been used up. You can, however, still apply for short-term (30-day) licences for January and February.
Make sure your vehicles have the right documentation
If you’re using your own vehicles, you need a vehicle logbook (V5C). If you’re hiring or leasing vehicles abroad, you need a VE103. In either case, you will need an International Motor Insurance Certificate (a green card) for both your vehicles and your trailers.
If your trailers are carrying an abnormal load, then you now need a keeper’s certificate for them. This must be kept with the vehicle. It will be needed at border crossings. Speaking of border crossings, be aware that you’ll need to check each country’s rules on abnormal loads as these can vary between member states.
Last but not least, you need to affix a physical GB sticker to all your vehicles and trailers. This applies regardless of whether you have a pre-Brexit EU plate with the GB sign on it.
Get your customs documentation
Be aware that you need the correct documentation for the whole load. In other words, if you’re combining loads and one set of documentation is wrong, then the entire load can be delayed or turned back. It’s therefore advisable to check what your customers give you before setting off.
If you’re taking an HGV over 7.5 tonnes through the Port of Dover or the Eurotunnel, then you will need a Kent Access Permit. This involves a check of your customs documentation. Each permit is only valid for 24 hours so you will need to time your application carefully. Be aware that being caught without a KAP may result in a fine of up to £300.
If the government considers the KAP scheme a success, then it is very likely to be extended. It’s therefore advisable to keep your ears open for any news on this front.
Educate your drivers on personal imports
Recent media headlines on “sandwich-gate” may have done this job for you. You should, however, assume that they haven’t. Make your drivers aware that there may be restrictions on what they can take from the UK into the EU/EEA and vice versa. Ideally, make your drivers aware of what these restrictions are and update them if the rules change.
Sort out the paperwork for your drivers
Make sure that your drivers are aware they now need passports which are less than 10 years old and have more than 6 months left to run at the end of the trip. At present they are unlikely to need visas for the average work trip. In the event that they will spend more than 90 days in the EU/EEA then visas will probably be required. Be aware that these rules may change.
If drivers are still using a paper driving licence then they can either upgrade, it to a photocard one or get an International Driving Permit. More accurately, that should be at least one International Driving Permit. There are three currently in use. Only two are used within the EU, but the third is used in the EEA (Liechtenstein).
That said, even if drivers have a photocard driving licence, it may be advisable to get IDPs as well. This will cover them if they need to rent a vehicle for any reason, for example in an emergency. Many rental companies require them even if the law, strictly speaking, does not.
As EHIC cards have ceased to be valid, your drivers will also need health insurance for their trip. It’s advisable to give them some means to pay out of pocket medical expenses in case they have issues getting their insurance recognized. Keep in mind that there may be language issues and also that some hospital staff may be unfamiliar with post-Brexit insurance processes.
Remember EU safety rules still apply In particular, your drivers will still need their Certificate of Professional Competence and will still need to be able to demonstrate compliance with the EU Drivers Hours Rules. As the existing UK CPC was created in compliance with the relevant EU directive, it is still accepted in the EU. It’s a fairly safe bet that the UK will continue to offer an EU-compliant CPC and that this will continue to be accepted over the years to come.