Changes To International Freight Licences – Everything You Need To Know


The UK government has announced some major changes to international freight licences which came into effect from the 21st of May 2022.  The new rules relating to international freight will govern how you transport goods to, from, and through Europe using cars, vans, trailers, and heavy goods vehicles.  The rules form part of the UK’s deal with the European Union in accordance to Brexit.

The new rules apply to anyone who is transporting goods using:

  • Cars
  • Vans
  • Trailers
  • Light goods vehicles (LGVs)
  • Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)

Hauliers, operators, and drivers all need to ensure they are aware of, and fully understand, the new rules for transporting goods through Europe. From the 21st of May anyone who is found to be operating an LGV between 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes (for hire or reward) within an EU member state will need to ensure they have a goods vehicle operator’s licence.

As mentioned above, these new rules will apply to those operating LGVs for hire or reward, essentially the rules apply to any kinds of goods that are being transported for some form of payment and that do not belong to the operator.

Following Brexit, the rules have been put in place as part of the roll out of the new border control policies.  Previously, an operating licence (‘O’ licence) was needed for anyone transporting goods within Europe.  However, now, operators will need a bespoke international freight licence.

Which businesses will be affected?

Any company that transports goods (using the types of vehicles mentioned above) on a commercial basis within Europe, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein will fall within the rules.

What do businesses need to do?

For businesses, the first step is to check whether your business falls within the scope of the new rules.  Effectively, any business that carries goods for others within an EU member state (this will include almost all hauliers and many couriers) and using a vehicle that weighs between 2.5-3.5 tonnes will fall within the scope of the new rules.  The rules also cover cars and vans that tow trailers.

For any business that falls within the scope of the international freight rules, they need to ensure that:

  1. They have a vehicle operator licence
  1. They have added any LGVs that fall within the rules to their Vehicle Operator Licence

What if I need a new operator’s licence?

If the business requires a new operator’s licence you need to ensure you meet the standards of finances and fitness that are required. When applying for your new operator’s licence you will need to gather all the relevant evidence and information the government requires. 

This will include details of the vehicles and information relating to the finances of the business, and details of how your business operates including how you maintain records, and the proposals for loading and unloading.

In addition, you will need to be able to evidence that the business has reached a level of professional competence that will enable it to run operations effectively and safely. 

You will be asked to provide information relating to:

  • Scheduling of deliveries
  • Routes and planning
  • Management of staff
  • Administration of the business
  • Ensuring compliance with rules and regulations
  • Vehicle maintenance checks and replacements

Business owners need to make sure that they have the appropriate licence and insurance in place otherwise they could find themselves facing major disruption in their business operations.

Transporting Goods Via Cars and Vans in Europe

If you are transporting goods within Europe, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechenstein via car, van or trailer then you will now need an international goods operator licence.  

You will also need to ensure you have a qualified transport manager.  This can be someone who has managed vehicle fleets for a minimum of 10 years prior to August 2020.  Alternatively, you can employ someone who is a qualified transport manager and who has a transport manager certificate of professional competence.

One other option with regard to having a transport manager on board is that businesses can have an external transport manager working for them.

What if my business already has an Operator’s Licence?

For any business that already has an operator’s licence in place they can simply apply for the international freight licence and this can be added to an existing licence.  The sooner you apply to add to your existing licence, the quicker your application will be processed. 

Remember, to apply for the international freight licence you will have to have a transport manager on your operations team so make sure you deal with recruitment of the transport manager as soon as you can.

My business is affected – how do I ensure compliance?

Don’t worry, the rules are simple to follow.  You need to either:

  • Apply for the international freight licence if you do not have one
  • If you do have an operator’s licence, ensure it is sufficiently upgraded
  • If you already have a standard international licence ensure that any vehicles falling within the new rules are added to the licence

 HGV Insurance

Heavy goods vehicles need comprehensive insurance to ensure the vehicle is protected alongside the driver and the goods carried by the vehicle. Depending on the business you work for, you may need a non-standard and bespoke insurance policy. For any changes to your business and its operations, please contact ISIS Insurance today and our expert advisers will be on hand to advise you further.

ISIS Insurance offers a wide variety of insurance options and quotes that cover everything a HGV might need when it comes to insurance, from skip lorries to refrigerated vehicles.