Road Transport Cabotage Operations Cross Borders

International - Road Transport Cabotage Operations

If you are a UK goods vehicle operator (haulier) carrying out work in the EU, you need a licence to operate. You must hold a Standard International Licence and a UK Community Licence. UK Licences for the Community has now replaced EU Community Licences. If you have an EU Community Licence, you will automatically be sent a UK Licence for the Community.

Find how to get a UK Licence for the Community.

Standard international licence
UK Licence for the Community

As a transport haulage driver, you must always have a certified copy of your UK Licence for the Community with you at all times when you are working in the EU. 

You can carry out a limited number of cabotage and cross-trade jobs in an EU country if you are a UK haulier with a UK Licence for the Community. The jobs or assignments must follow a journey where goods were transported from the UK.

Cabotage and cross-trade

Cabotage is loading and unloading goods within one country, with a vehicle registered in another country. Cross-trade is loading goods in one country and unloading them in another country, with a vehicle registered in a third, different country. It's complicated but you must understand these rules.

UK hauliers can carry out cabotage and cross-trade jobs

UK Hauliers can carry out up to two (2) haulage jobs within the EU after dropping off goods from the UK. Only one of the jobs can be cabotage.

New Cabotage and cross-trade jobs rules

• You MUST complete the job within 7 days of dropping off the goods you brought from the UK in the same EU country where you dropped off the goods from the UK

If you are transporting your own goods (also called ‘own account’ journeys), you need to follow the cabotage and cross-trade rules in EU countries unless you are:

• Driving an empty trailer from one EU country to another
• Dropping off goods in the EU that you’re transporting from the UK
• Picking up goods in the EU and dropping them off in the UK
• Transporting goods for a non-commercial purpose

If you are carrying out jobs in Ireland

You can carry out up to two (2) cabotage jobs in Ireland if both of the following apply:

• You are registered as a goods vehicle operator in Northern Ireland
• You have travelled from Northern Ireland

Both cabotage jobs must be completed within 7 days of dropping off the goods you brought into Ireland.

If you have a European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permit for 2021

You can carry out one additional cross-trade job (3 haulage jobs in total) before returning to the UK. Find out about ECMT permits. You may have to register and pay VAT in the country where the journey took place. Your right to carry out cabotage or cross-trade jobs may be removed temporarily or permanently if you breach safety rules.

Documents you need for cabotage jobs

When you are carrying out cabotage jobs in the EU, you must have documents with you to show the following:

• The full name, address and signature of the sender and haulier
• The precise place and date you picked up the goods
• The place you are delivering the goods to
• The name, address and signature of the international consignee with the date of delivery specified
• A full description of the goods, the method of packing, the number of packages and their special marks or numbers
• The gross mass of the goods and/or their quantities
• The correct number plates of the vehicle and trailer

It is also important to note that these changes took place on 21st May 2022 for all operators using Vans, Vars and Trailers when transporting goods to the EU from the UK where 'hire and reward' is in place. This includes existing or those planning on using Vans and other light goods vehicles and trailers in addition to their existing HGV haulage operation.

You also now need to understand that moving goods in/out of the UK using UK-registered vehicles has become more complicated for businesses as new laws have been introduced that you MUST follow;

Transport goods out of the UK by road: step by step

Transport goods in Europe in vans or cars and trailers