End of grace period for carriers from EU in UK

EU carriers’ rights in UK

On 24 December 2022, a number of legislative changes resulting from the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) signed between the European Union and the United Kingdom came into effect, as stated in a letter from the British Department for Transport. Until 31 March 2023, there was a transition period during which control authorities in the United Kingdom did not impose penalties for violations of these rules.

However, as of 1 April 2023, the grace period has ended, and fines can be expected for breaches of the restrictions imposed by the United Kingdom on carriers from the European Union. Enforcement inspections, including vehicle checks, impounding, and fines, may be applied if enforcement officers discover vehicles breaking the law.

The letter from the British Department for Transport specifically mentions, cabotage rights after unladen entry into the UK, the possibility of conducting combined transport, and the right of triangulation through the use of a Community license.

All EU transport operators should follow now these rules:  

  • A Community Licence is valid for transports operated between the UK and any EU Member State, regardless of which EU country the operator is established in.
  • An ECMT permit will be required only for an operator based in the EU for transport between the UK and a country outside the European Union. This includes to or from Norway or Switzerland. 
  • Transit across the UK by an EU operator does not require an ECMT permit. The transits across the UK which can be done using a Community Licence include:
    • transit through the UK during a journey between the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the EU;
    • transit through the UK during a journey between the Republic of Ireland and a non-EU State;
    • transit through the UK in the course of a cabotage journey between two points in the Republic of Ireland.
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  • International transport between the EU and the UK by heavy goods vehicles (including accompanied trailers) using Eurotunnel services or roll-on/roll-off ferries is not affected by the removal of the combined transport access right.

  • The removal of the combined transport access right relates to the rights further to the Combined Transport Directive (92/106/EEC, as amended). Cabotage rights of up to two journeys for EU operators to be undertaken within seven days of unloading of an international arrival still apply for EU operators in the UK. They can be used wholly or partly for journey legs that would have been classified as Combined Transport under the Directive. 
  • EU Operators are no longer be allowed to carry out empty cabotage operations when entering the country. This is new change, in addition to those already introduced, which, compared to the regulations before May 2022 (i.e., when it was possible to carry out an unlimited number of cabotage operations in a period of 14 days), provided for the possibility of carrying out a maximum of two trips within 7 days from the moment of delivery of the cargo to be transported in the country.

Important! EU Operators may perform up to two cabotage movements within 7 days when they arrive at the UK laden, before leaving the UK either laden or empty.

  • EU operator’s vehicles are not permitted to undertake any cabotage in the UK after arriving in the UK empty. EU operator’s vehicles can arrive empty into the UK and then leave loaded on an international journey.

The legislation introducing the legal changes came into force on 24 December 2022, and can be found on legislation.gov.uk: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2022/1260/introduction/made.

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