What you must know about driving commercial vehicles internationally

There are basically two major aspects to driving commercial vehicles internationally. The first is making sure that your paperwork is in order and the second is ensuring that you are familiar with the relevant laws and rules of the road.

Here is a quick guide to what you will need to check before you depart. Please be aware that rules can and do change and so it is important to check what rules will be in place at the time of your trip (particularly with Brexit on the horizon).

Documentation

Here are the main documents you are likely to need for travel within the EU under current rules.

  • Passport
  • Driving licence
  • Insurance
  • Tachograph and driving hours

If you are driving outside the EU (or in the event of a hard Brexit), here are some additional documents you may need.

  • Passport with a minimum period of validity.
  • Travel visa
  • International Driving Permit (IDP)
  • ECMT permits (European Conference of Ministers of Transport permits)
  • EU-issued CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence)
  • Green card (as in proof that you have the correct insurance not for immigration).

All people traveling in a commercial vehicle must have the correct travel documents, in other words, if you are also carrying a crew, each member of it must have their own paperwork. If they do not then you, as the driver, may find yourself being held responsible.

All necessary documentation must be valid for all the relevant countries. For example, some countries require passports to have a minimum period of validity for people to be allowed entry and this may vary from country to country (and according to the nationality of the passport holder), so it is very important to check at the time of travel.

Cabotage

A hard Brexit will probably trigger a change to the cabotage rules, so, again, check before you agree to any work.

The rules of the road

Brexit itself is highly unlikely to cause any changes to the rules of the road but they can and do change for other reasons, such as to improve environmental standards, to reduce noise and/or to enhance safety.

In addition to “standard” driving rules (such as which side of the road you use and what the speed limits are), there are three main areas of rules to check carefully before you travel.

Emissions rules

In addition to national emissions rules, many countries allow local areas to set their own rules on emissions and to decide how they will be applied.

What’s more, in some places, it’s not enough just to meet the standards; you need to show proof that you meet the standards. 

Access restrictions

Some places will limit access to HGVs and LGVs either completely or at various times. For example, some countries essentially have enforced rest periods (usually over a Sunday) during which time commercial vehicles are not allowed to travel on public roads.

There may also be places where access is banned at night so that local residents are not disturbed by noise.

Equipment requirements

Some countries require you to have certain equipment in your vehicle at all times, although generally this is safety equipment which you would probably have carried anyway.

Author Bio

Alan is the operations director of Nottingham Driving School, who specialise in providing a variety of driver training courses for HGV and LGV.

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