Some British motorists faced significant changes in the rules which affect their journeys to and from the European Union from 21st May 2022. Although a long time in the pipeline, these changes may see some drivers caught out at EU borders, and facing a fine as well as up front costs to cover themselves before setting out. These rules do not apply to the “average” driver, but will hit a significant proportion of those who regularly travel across the English Channel, North Sea or even the Irish Sea. Being as they are one of the consequences of Brexit, motorists could be forgiven for having forgotten all about the introduction of these “new” regulations.
Hire or Reward
As part of the changes brought about by the UK’s departure from the EU, the bloc has imposed fees in certain circumstances which did not apply prior to January 2020. These are imposed on all other non-EU nations, so this comes as no surprise. The fees are charged on vehicles which bring items into the Union for the purposes of “hire or reward”; i.e. they are specifically transported there in order to make money for somebody, be they the driver of a vehicle or a third party. Goods and equipment which are transported for use by the vehicle’s occupants as part of their visit (i.e. not for profit) are exempt from these charges.
As for the vehicles in question, these are not standard private cars, vans or motorbikes. Rather, they are listed as vans and towed trailers over the weight of 2.5 tonnes, up to 3.5 tonnes inclusive. Drivers (or towers) of these who take goods for hire or reward into the EU need a standard international goods vehicle operator licence in order to do so. As well as the EU itself, the rules apply to appropriate vehicles taken into Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. For stand alone vehicles like vans (also called light commercial vehicles or LCVs for the purposes of the MOT test), this rule applies as standard. It also applies to any vehicle which is towing a trailer between these weights.
For British motorists who had not been keeping up with the May 2022 rule changes, one of the things which might have come as a surprise was the need to employ a Transport Manager. This is because the EU considers this necessary if a motorist is entering its territory with the intention of transporting goods for profit. This being the case, such a driver will necessarily need a schedule to work to, clients to meet, and paperwork to fill in; they will also need to be in a roadworthy vehicle, which in the UK means one that has a valid MOT test certificate. All of this, in the eyes of the EU, entails the need for a transport manager.
Of course, drivers who are actually employed by organizations which transport goods to and from the EU would already have a transport manager. For many smaller businesses or individuals, however, this is an issue that would come as a shock. Temporary rules can be applied, so that an employee assumes this position in the short term. Otherwise, the demand for people with a Transport Manager Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) will certainly rise.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the situation regarding importing goods into the EU from the UK is complicated. In particular, the need for a standard international goods vehicle operator licence only applies to motorists from England, Scotland and Wales. Those from Northern Ireland are subject to separate arrangements. With the entire Northern Ireland Protocol facing the possibility of being ripped up, however, drivers from the Province may also find themselves subject to the goods transportation rules. As of May 2022, meanwhile, there is no suggestion that vehicles transporting goods from Northern Ireland into the EU for hire or reward will be included in the new regime.
The main reason for this, of course, is that the Republic of Ireland, which is a member state of the EU, has a land border with Northern Ireland. Dismantling army and police positions on this border was part of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, meaning that, as far as UK and EU citizens were concerns, that border has been “frictionless”; i.e. unnoticeable since then. If border checks on vans and cars towing trailers into the Republic have to be introduced, this could have a number of ramifications. In the meantime, English, Scottish and Welsh transporter-motorists have new rules to get used to.
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