What UK HGV drivers should know when travelling to Europe
As an HGV driver, you will probably be used to plenty of paperwork wherever you go, but if you are
travelling to Europe there are now a number of new rules that you need to be aware of. This year
has seen several changes to the rules if you are taking goods in, out or between European Member
States as a result of the Brexit negotiations that have taken place. That is why we have put together
a list of the essential things that you need to know as an HGV driver abroad.
It is your responsibility to make sure that you are aware of any requirements that you might be
subject to before you set off and ensure that you leave enough time for paperwork to be processed
and any checks to be completed.
In a post-Brexit world, a number of changes have been made regarding how Britain ships goods into
the EU, and as a result, there are now a lot more checks which are involved. As part of this, the UK
has agreed to extend operator licensing requirements to include vehicles weighing more than 2.5
tonnes up to 3.5 tonnes which travel internationally.
This means that light goods vehicles and large or medium vans now fall into this category. Each
haulage company is required to have a Transport Manager who is either qualified in managing a
fleet of commercial vehicles or has had more than 10 years of experience doing so if your business
wishes to operate in the EU.
To be granted an operator licence, companies will also need to provide financial information about
the business, demonstrate that all vehicles are well maintained and pay fees to issue the licence and
keep it. Failure to comply with the rules could result in some hefty fines or other punitive measures.
Declaring the transportation of goods
You are also now required to declare when you are transporting goods between two points in the
EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. This will need to be in advance of you travelling so that it is
ready and in place when you reach the port in question.
To enter the EU, it is essential that the goods on board your HGV will satisfy the customs regulations.
Full expert controls and checks are now in place when moving goods to the UK and goods must be
presented to customs before they reach the frontier. They must not be exported without permission
and a message must be sent after their departure.
Frustratingly for HGV drivers, border locations can use different systems to fulfil their export
obligations, so you might find that the process is not always the same. The Goods Vehicle Movement
Service (GMVS) is commonly used, and any haulier will need this system to link their export
declaration references together into a Goods Movement Reference (GMR) which you can then
present at a port of terminal.
Alternatively, you may find that borders use inventory-liked systems where declarations will need to
have been pre-lodged and hauliers can then move the goods to the border location for presentation.
Any checks that might be needed will take place within the border locations approved premises.
Only goods which are moving via specified locations, identified as having space constraints or where
modified export controls apply can submit an arrived declaration.
Moving goods to France
The French have decided to implement a smart border system for freight transported across ferry
and Eurotunnel crossings. This pairs declaration data with the vehicle registration number that is
transporting the consignment. At check-in, the driver will need to hand in the MRN for the transit or
the French import declaration which will be scanned and matched with the vehicle.
Analysis of the data will be completed by French customs while the vehicle is crossing the Channel
and therefore allows HGVs to be pre-selected for further customs or sanitary and phytosanitary
(SPS) controls. Once you on board the ferry or Eurotunnel you will be informed whether you can
proceed or if you are needed to present goods for customs or SPS.
You will also b alerted if there are any problems that need to be addressed. If your vehicle has been
selected for control, you will be given guidance on what to do when you disembark.
Moving goods to Ireland
You will need to submit any EU import declarations through the Automated Import System (AIS).
These declarations should be made in advance of arrival at the port of departure and a Pre-Boarding
Notification (PBN) will link together the details of the goods being carried on your HGV and you will
be given a single instruction for your arrival at the Irish port.
You can track your PBN via the Customs RoRo Service and this will provide information on whether
you can directly exit the port or whether your goods need to be checked. If you are called for a
physical inspection, you should remain in your vehicle and inform the Irish Revenue Customs that
you are ready. A text message will be sent to you when an examination bay becomes available.
There are now also new rules in place regarding drivers’ posting. Border crossings are now required
to be registered via your tachograph and you will be required to be paid the minimum applicable
salary in another member state while conducting cabotage transport. The registration should be
done before you disembark the ferry or train.
Before setting off on any journey, it is important that both yourself and your Transport Manger are
clear on what documents are likely to be needed and that any pre-registration is done accurately
and ahead of time to avoid any delays when you reach customs.
There will be different systems in each country that you visit, despite the fact that they are all a part
of the EU, so make sure that you familiarise yourself with each system before the journey to make
sure that the process is as quick and painless as possible.
Andrea Easton is the Head of Finance and Operations of Walker Movements, who are specialists in
quality second-hand, used trucks and trailers and are global leaders in the trucking industry.