There are common rules for access to the market in the international carriage of goods by road within the EU. International carriage is undertaken subject to possession of a Community licence. A Community licence may be issued by an EU state to any haulier carrying goods by road for hire or reward which is established in that state and is entitled to carry out international carriage of goods by road in that country.

The authorities of the country of establishment issue the licence for renewable periods of up to 10 years. It is issued in the name of the haulier and may not be transferred. A driver attestation is issued by the authorities of the state of establishment of the haulier to holders of community licences who lawfully employ or use a driver in that country who is neither an EU national or a long-term resident.

Infringement of EU road transport legislation is enforced by the national authorities of the country of establishment. This may involve warnings and administrative penalties such as withdrawal of licence. If a non-resident haulier seriously infringes EU road transport legislation, the country in which the infringement is ascertained will inform the authorities of the home state of their decision, including a description of the infringement, category, type of seriousness of the infringement, and penalties imposed. Serious infringements must be recorded in the national register of road transport undertaking.


EU carriers holding a Community authorisation may carry out road haulage operations in other states without being established. If the driver is a national of a non-member state, he must carry a driver attestation. Carriers may obtain a cabotage authorisation by applying to the state in which the haulage business is established. This may be used for one vehicle.

There are  strict regulations on cabotage operations, in particular:

any haulier for hire or reward who is a Community licence holder and whose driver, if a non-EU national, holds a driver attestation, is entitled to carry out cabotage operations in an EU country (other than the one in which it is established) on a temporary basis following an international operation into that country;
after the goods concerned in the international carriage have been delivered, the hauliers have 7 days in which they may undertake up to 3 cabotage operations;
3 cabotage operations may also be carried out in any other EU country following an international carriage, with a limit of 1 operation per country.

This law only applies if the haulier can produce proof of the international carriage of goods into the EU country concerned as well as proof of each consecutive cabotage operation undertaken.

Cabotage operations are covered by national legislation in certain areas including

  • prices and conditionings governing the transport contract.
  • standards relating to weights and measures.
  • driving and rest time.
  • requirements on the carriage of certain goods.

Host member states may apply national provisions but must take account of the principle of proportionality.

The laws and regulations are to apply equally to non-resident hauliers and to hauliers established in the host EU country.

Where a haulier infringes EU road transport legislation:

the competent authorities of the EU country of establishment may issue a warning or impose administrative penalties such as withdrawing the Community licence;
if the haulier is a non-resident, the EU country in which the infringement took place will inform the competent authority in the haulier’s country of establishment describing the infringement and the penalties imposed.

ll serious infringements must be recorded in the national electronic register of road transport undertakings.

Market Access

EU regulation provides for access to the market in the carriage of goods by road within the EU or to and from the territory of a state. They are uniform arrangements for access to the markets.

The EU authorisation is issued by the state in which the business is established for a period of 5 years. Certified copies of the authorisation are issued for each vehicle. The authorisation is in the name of the carrier and is not transferable. Copies must be kept in the vehicles and shown on demand to inspectors.

States enforce the conditions of the licence. There are certain conditions required for the issue of an authorisation and states verify that the applicant qualifies. Where infringements are committed, member states impose penalties such as suspension or withdrawal of the authorisation or driver attestation.

There is an EU directive on the hiring of vehicles for the carriage of goods. States must allow undertakings established in their territory to use hired vehicles subject to certain conditions.

Requirements for Hauliers and Passenger Transport I

EU regulation provides for the establishment and regulation of haulage operators and passenger transport operators. The regulations apply to all businesses within the EU which intend to engage in this occupation. The regulations do not apply to

  • road hauliers using vehicles of the mass of less than 3.5 tons.
  • engaged in road transport services on a not for profit basis.
  • engaged in road transport using vehicles not exceeding 40 km/hr.

Every road transport undertaking must designate a transport manager who is responsible for managing the activities. He must be resident in the EU and have a genuine link with the undertaking as an employee administrator or shareholder.

An undertaking must have an establishment with an operating centre which keeps all records and documents required for the business. It must have one or more registered vehicles in accordance with national legislation.

Requirements for Hauliers and Passenger Transport II

The manager of an undertaking must be of good repute. They must not have been convicted of infringements for national rules and in pertinent fields such as road traffic legislation, commercial law, trafficking human beings or drugs, driving time rest periods, roadworthiness, the safety of carriage of dangerous goods by road and driving licences.

The undertakers must have the requisite ability to meet the financial obligation. They must have capital in reserve of at least a specified amount where one vehicle is used and more for each additional vehicle.

The manager of the undertaking must have passed a compulsory written examination which may be supplemented by an oral examination.

States must designate one or more competent authorities responsible for;

  • examining applications
  • granting authorisations
  • declaring persons to be fit or unfit to manage transport activities
  • checking that the undertaking complies with the relevant requirements.

The authorities must be responsible for dealing with applications within 3 months. They must have powers to declare an undertaking unfit to manage transport activities.

States must keep a national electronic register of undertakings authorised to engage in road transport operator services. They are responsible for supervising the data and keeping the information up-to-date. It must include;

  • details of the undertaking
  • address of establishment
  • details of designated transport managers
  • number category and types of infringements
  • types of authorisations and numbers of vehicles.

National registers must be interconnected so that information can be exchanged. Data may be communicated upon request and should be directly accessible, compliant with the data protection legislation.

Amending Regulation (EU) 2020/1055

The main changes introduced to Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009 by amending Regulation (EU) 2020/1055 include:

requirements for access to the profession are to become mandatory for operators using light commercial vehicles in international transport, that is:
motor vehicles or combinations of vehicles intended exclusively for carrying goods,
with a permissible laden mass of more than 2.5 tonnes but not more than 3.5 tonnes;
inspections to be carried out at hauliers’ premises by Member States’ national authorities. Those authorities must organise a minimum number of checks on cabotage and at least 2 concerted roadside checks per year;
a transitional period of 4 days to be introduced, before which no new cabotage operations may be carried out in the same country and with the same vehicle, to prevent systematic cabotage;
rules to be introduced by Member States on sanctions against consignors, freight forwarders, contractors and subcontractors for non-compliance, where they knew, or, in the circumstances should have known, that the transport services that they commissioned infringed this regulation.

Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009 has applied since 4 December 2011, with the exception of Articles 8 and 9 (rules concerning cabotage operations), which have applied since 14 May 2010.
Amending Regulation (EU) 2020/1055 applies from 21 February 2022.

Tax on Heavy Good Vehicles

The EU directive provides for taxation of heavy goods vehicles within the EU. It harmonises levy systems, vehicle taxes, tolls, and charges relating to the use of the road infrastructure. The purpose is to establish fair mechanisms for charging infrastructure costs to hauliers.

The directive covers vehicle taxes, tolls, and user charges imposed on vehicles for the carriage of goods by road having a laden weight of not less than 12 tons.

The directive sets out conditions to be met by states wishing to impose tolls or user charges. It sets out rules for the application of tolls and user charges. States may differentiate tolls according to the vehicle emission category and level of damage they cause to the road, place and time, and the amount of congestion.

Dangerous Goods

There is a directive on the transport of dangerous goods by road. This is part of wider comprehensive legislation on dangerous goods. There are lists of exemptions/derogations in the legislation.

Dangerous goods are substances or articles for which transport by road is either prohibited or authorised only under certain circumstances. Goods are classified as dangerous to transport if they are included in lists drawn up by the UN and accordingly mentioned in the regulation.

The directive on the transport of dangerous goods by road requires states to ensure that a representative proportion of consignments of dangerous goods are checked for compliance with road transport laws. The checks must be carried out as part of the normal checks without discrimination. The checks must cover at least the items specified in a checklist in the legislation. They must be sufficiently extensive to make checkpoints difficult to avoid.

Consignments found to be in infringement may be immobilised, brought into conformity before continuing their journey, or subject to other appropriate measures including refusal to allow vehicles to enter the EU.

EU states must work together on effectively implementing the directive. They must report infringements to the country in which the carrier is registered. Each state must send the Commission a report on the application of the directive annually.

The EU rules allow for the retention of existing national legislation for transport operation for vehicles within their own territories. States may apply more stringent provisions regarding transport carried out by vehicles registered or put into circulation in their territory but not regarding construction requirements.

Businesses engaged in the transport of dangerous goods must designate one or more safety advisors for the purpose of managing risks inherent in the operation.  There are certain exemptions. The advisor must have a vocational training certificate covering subjects listed in the directive. The certificate is valid for 5 years and may be extended. here are exemptions where certain minimal quantities are involved, or the transport of dangerous material is occasional.

Hiring of vehicles for the carriage of goods

This Directive allows the use of vehicles hired by undertakings established on the territory of another Member State. Among other requirements, such vehicles must comply with the laws of the Member State of origin and be driven by the personnel of the undertaking using them. The Directive does not affect the Member States’ obligations concerning the time-limits for transposition into national law.

Directive 2006/1/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 January 2006 on the use of vehicles hired without drivers for the carriage of goods by road [Official Journal L 33 of 4.2.2006].

From a macroeconomic point of view, the use of hired vehicles * permits an optimum allocation of resources by limiting the wasteful use of factors of production.

From a microeconomic point of view, this possibility brings an element of flexibility to the organisation of transport and thus increases the productivity of the undertakings concerned.

Each Member State must allow the use within its territory of vehicles  hired by undertakings established on the territory of another Member State, provided that:

the vehicle has been registered or put into circulation in compliance with the laws in the latter Member State;
the contract relates solely to the hiring of a vehicle without a driver and is not accompanied by a service contract concluded with the same undertaking covering driving or accompanying personnel;
the hired vehicle is at the sole disposal of the undertaking using it during the period of the hire contract;
the hired vehicle is driven by personnel of the undertaking using it.

The following documents providing proof of the vehicle’s compliance with the requirements must be carried on board:

the contract of hire, or a certified extract from that contract giving in particular the name of the lessor, the name of the lessee, the date and duration of the contract and the identification of the vehicle;
where the driver is not the person hiring the vehicle, the driver’s employment contract or a certified extract from that contract giving in particular the name of the employer, the name of the employee and the date and duration of the employment contract or a recent pay slip.

The Directive does not affect the application of the rules concerning:

the organisation of the market for the carriage of goods by road for hire or reward and own account or access to the market and to quota restrictions on road capacities;
prices and conditions for the carriage of goods by road;
the formation of hire prices;
the import of vehicles;
the conditions governing access to the activity or occupation of road-vehicle lessor.


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