International Road Haulage Permits & Quotas
Bilateral road haulage permits
The UK has agreements with several non-European Union countries, which allow hauliers to travel to or through those countries as long as they hold a permit for the country with which the bilateral agreement has been made.
Where bilateral permits apply
Currently, bilateral permits are required for Journeys to or through Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Morocco, the Russian Federation, Tunisia and Ukraine. Single journey permits are valid for one complete journey (the outward and return trips counting as one complete Journey). Multiple journey permits are available for Morocco which authorises 15 return trips during the validity of the permit. A bilateral permit is only required for Journeys through Turkey to a third country.
How bilateral permits work
If you are operating goods vehicles from the UK using bilateral permits, you must obtain these permits before commencng the journey. By producing the permit at the border, the driver is allowed to pass into or through that country. Depending on the terms of the bilateral agreement, they may still have to pay certain local taxes.
Whether or not a permit is necessary depends on the country to or through which you intend to travel, the size of the vehicle and the nature of the goods being carried. There are exemptions for small vehicles and certain loads as well as for certain types of operation. If you are operating haulage vehicles in countries with which the UK does not have a special arrangement or agreement, you will need to obtain a licence from the authOrities of those countries. It may be advisable to seek advice from the Embassy of the country concerned.
Bilateral permits can be obtained from the International Road Freight Office.
ECMT multilateral road haulage permits
In addition to Community Authorisation and bilateral permits, hauliers can get permits to cross into other countries by using the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) multilateral permit scheme for journeys between its member countries.
ECMT permits may be used for journeys between member countries, including transit journeys whether laden or empty. They can also be used for third country journeys to other ECMT countries which would otherwise be prohibited under certain bilateral agreements.
The 43 member countries of the ECMT are: Albania, Estonia, Lithuania, Russian Federation, Armenia, Finland, Luxembourg, Serbia, Austria, France, FYR, Macedonia, Slovak Republic, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Malta, Slovenia, Belarus, Germany, Moldova, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Montenegro, Sweden, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary, Netherlands, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Ireland, Norway, Turkey, Croatia, Italy, Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Latvia, Portugal, United Kingdom, Denmark, Liechtenstein and Romania.
How multilateral permits work
ECMT permits are valid for one calendar year and allow an unlimited number of journeys within that period. The UK does not issue short term permits. Permits may be transferred between vehicles, but are valid for only one vehicle at a time. The permit must be kept on board for the whole journey.
ECMT permits may not be used for:
- transit of ECMT countries on journeys to non-ECMT states
- unaccompanied trailers or semi-trailers
- own account operations
Some countries - particularly Austria, Greece and Italy - impose additional restrictions on the use of ECMT multilateral permits.
Each ECMT member country is allocated a limited number of permits each year, under a quota system. Once the quota of ECMT permits has been used, further permits are available throughout the year, for which fees are charged on a sliding scale. Normally, all permits are allocated before the beginning of the year in which they are valid.
The UK's ECMT permit system is administered by the International Road Freight Office (IRFO), which is part of the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA). Applications should be made to: International Road Freight Office, City House, 126-130 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 1NP. Tel: 01223 531030 - Fax: 01223 309681.
Community Authorisation road haulage permits
To move goods by road Internationally for hire and reward, you will require a permit to be able to do so as well as an International Operator Licence. Community Authorisation allows drivers to use a single permit for trips between all EC member states. The Authorisation also allows transit traffic through EC member states and to and from non-member countries. Community Authorisations also allow cabotage, ie journeys entirely within one other EC member state.
Community transit and the EC
Most regulations on the international carriage of goods by road within the European Union (EU) have been harmonised as part of the single market. Journeys between the UK and other EU member states are governed by common rules.
The 27 EU member states are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
As well as applying in the 27 member states of the EU, Community Authorisation is also valid in the four member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA): Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Three EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) belong to the European Economic Area (EEA), which unites the 27 EU member states and the EFTA countries in an internal market. Many EU regulations are applied in all the EEA countries. However, in some areas local laws still apply and therefore conditions vary between countries.
How to apply for Community Authorisation
Community Authorisations are issued automatically, free of charge to any haulier who has been granted a Standard International operator's licence. They are for use only by the operator to whom they are issued.
The National Licensing Office sends out authorisation documents and international licence documents. For each licence, Community Authorisation documents comprise:
- the Community Authorisation, which must be kept in the vehicle operator's main office so that it can be inspected by enforcement agencies
- certified copies of the Authorisation - an operator can request a certified copy for each of the vehicles authorised by the Standard International operator's licence
- Certified copies of the Authorisation are not specific to any one vehicle. A certified copy of a Community Authorisation must be carried on the vehicle on all international journeys and must be presented to any enforcement official on request. It is an offence not to do so. The original must be kept at the operating centre.
Validity of the Community Authorisation
Community Authorisations are issued for five-year periods. The first period starts on the date that the International Goods Vehicle Operator's Licence is first issued. In any circumstances where a Traffic Commissioner is considering revoking an international licence, they will also consider withdrawing the Community Authorisation.
If Community Authorisation documents are lost, damaged or stolen, you must inform the Traffic Area Office which issued the Authorisation. You must also return the documents when a licence is surrendered or otherwise terminated.
Some operators may wish to travel during weekends in some countries and subject to the goods you carry and the reasons for doing so, may be entitled to apply for an exemption permit.
Regardless of what permit(s) you require - whether General Quota, Exemption or Bi-Lateral - applications should be made to International Road Freight Office (IRFO) - City House, 126-130 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 1NP. TEL: (01223) 531030 FAX: (01223) 309681.
Penalties for the misuse of Community Authorisation
It is illegal to misuse or forge a Community Authorisation, bilateral or European Conference of Ministers of Transport permit, or to make a false statement In order to obtain one. It Is also illegal not to have the right documents for your joumey. If you are convicted of such offences, you may be liable to a fine set by the authorities in the country where the offence was committed.
If you are convicted of the misuse of documents, this is grounds for your operator's licence being revoked, suspended Or curtailed under the Transport Act 1995. Furthermore, any fine, forgery or misuse of permits can lead to administrative action being taken against you, including temporary or permanent withdrawal of authorisations or permits.
To download a General Quota application form, click on the link below.