EU Brexit deal – what does it mean for operator licensing?

The text of the deal reached on 24 December 2020 has now been published and brought into effect. The publication includes a section on the transport of goods by road and associated appendixes. Much of the familiar content of EU transport regulations is transposed into the appendixes.

Nothing in the Agreement affects the transport by road of goods within the territory of either of the parties by an operator established within that territory. The Agreement only applies to international haulage and with specific provisions for Northern Irish operators wanting to carry out cabotage journeys within the Republic of Ireland.

There continues to be the requirement to hold an international standard operator’s licence for those who wish to undertake international haulage to the EU. There are reciprocal agreements on cabotage and cross trade jobs. International hauliers are allowed to undertake 1 cabotage and 1 cross trade job ( haulage between two EU countries) or 2 cross trade jobs provided that the work is done within 7 days of a job bringing a load into the country. Northern Irish operators can do 2 cabotage jobs within the Republic of Ireland, provided that this follows a journey from Northern Ireland and are done within 7 days of dropping off a load which has been brought into the Republic of Ireland.

The Agreement lists certain exemptions from the requirement to hold an operator’s licence to carry out international work. These include the transport of goods in small goods vehicles with a maximum permissible laden mass, including any trailer, of 3.5 and 2.5 tonnes but this exemption is time limited to 20th and 21st February 2022. This mirrors the EU’s existing wish to bring smaller goods vehicles within scope for operator licensing in the near future.

There is a duty for either party to keep the other party informed of the content and progress of any new regulatory measures and for discussion as to whether the new proposed regulatory measures would apply to journeys subject to the Agreement, in which case there is provision for amending the Agreement.

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