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Driving Abroad: Tips for HGV drivers in 2019

Feb 28, 2019

Before you drive your HGV abroad you must make sure that you are prepared – take a moment to check the road rules of the country you are travelling to and the documentation you need to carry with you.

Here we look at some of the important things to keep in mind if you are looking to drive within Europe:

Have the correct paperwork

Making sure you have the correct licences and paperwork in place if you are heading overseas is critical. Here are some of the key things to consider:

Passport – you must carry a valid UK passport with you at all times. This includes any passengers or crew etc that you have with you.

Driving Licence – again a full UK driving licence for the type of vehicle that you are driving must be taken with you. That licence must also be valid in the country that you are driving in.

Insurance – a valid motor insurance certificate that indicates you are covered for driving abroad.

Tachograph and Driving Hours – Drivers of HGVs must comply with driving hours rules in the UK. This law also applies if your vehicle is being driven in the EU. Make sure you are aware of the rules and update your tachograph with your driving hours as you would do in the UK.

In some instances, you may also need:

Visas – whilst we remain a member of the EU you don’t currently need a visa to drive in the EU but you may do if you want to drive further afield so ensure the rules have been checked before you travel.

International Driving Permit (IDP) – certain countries require you to have an IDP – this will contain information on the types of vehicles you are licensed to drive, and the time period that your licence covers. It will contain the information in the language native to the country you are driving in so that it can easily be understood by officials there.

Cabotage – If you are driving your HGV abroad and carrying goods in the EU, then you will need to have checked the cabotage rules before you travel. You can find out more on the gov.uk website here.

Be aware of the rules of the road

Having the correct paperwork and licences with you will enable you to enter the country you wish to drive in. But there is also the fact that road rules vary greatly from country to country. To drive safely and legally where ever you are you need to be aware of this.

Some things to look out for:

Low emissions zones – many cities across Europe operate low emission zones which you should be aware of. This will help you to avoid fines for driving in areas where your vehicle may not meet the required standards.

In France for example, you need to purchase a ‘clean air’ sticker (a Crit’Air vignette) in some cities to display your vehicles emission levels. Without one you could face an on the spot fine.

Vehicle restrictions – In France for example, HGV and LGVs are restricted from driving across France between 22:00 Saturday until 22:00 Sunday. Similar restrictions also apply on public holidays and further restrictions apply at the weekend between mid-July – mid-August.

Germany, Italy and Spain also implement similar restrictions so make sure you are aware of these to avoid a fine.

Equipment – in some EU countries it is essential and, in some cases, a legal requirement that you carry certain equipment in your vehicle. This can include a reflective jacket, a warning triangle and snow chains/winter tyres. These rules apply in, amongst others, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Spain.

Brexit may change everything

Whilst this advice is correct at the time of writing (Feb 2019) we are well aware that the uncertainty of Brexit looms large. Whether we obtain a deal or not is currently the focus. If we do end in a no deal situation, the requirements you need to meet when driving abroad across EU countries will look very different for HGV drivers and those taking goods to the EU. Current advice from gov.uk can be found here. The advice looks at the key areas which may change in the event of a no deal Brexit including:

ECMT permits – will replace UK issued community licences to allow hauliers to continue to drive in the EU
Trailer registration – will be required before travelling through or to EU countries

CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) – if UK-issued Driver CPC’s are no longer recognised it may be necessary to update to a EU issues driver CPC

IDP (International Driving Permit) – IDP may be required in addition to your UK licence to drive in the EU

Green card – proof that you have the correct commercial motor insurance in place

At the current time, driving abroad for those who work in the haulage industry is relatively straightforward when it comes to driving in EU member states. Making sure you are aware of the rules of the road is probably of the biggest areas to consider as rules can vary greatly from country to country. However, this may all change post Brexit with additional documents needing to be applied for – we will be keeping an eye on this and will provide an update when we know more. If you are concerned about the implications of Brexit do look at our Brexit information page here.

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