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International road haulage: operator licences and permits

The licences and permits you need to operate gross vehicle weight vehicles above 3.5 tonnes on international journeys from the UK.

1. Introduction
2. Vehicle operator licences
3. EU Community Licences
4. ECMT international road haulage permits
5. ECMT international removal permits
6. Bilateral road haulage permits for some non-EU countries
7. Licences for countries the UK does not have arrangements with
8. Own account traffic
9. Cabotage
10. Penalties for the misuse of licences and permits
11. More information

If you operate vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating above 3.5 tonnes on international journeys, you need several licences and permits.
What you need depends on the countries the vehicle will travel to or through.
Vehicle operator licences
You must have a standard international vehicle operator licence to carry your own goods, and other people’s goods, both in the UK and on international journeys.
This applies to all vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating above 3.5 tonnes.
Operators who are issued with an international licence can also request EU Community Licences, which are required for all operations for hire or reward in, or through, EU countries.
Drivers who transport dangerous goods abroad must have an International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) training certificate, unless they’re transporting small loads.
Find out more about being a goods vehicle operator

How to apply for a vehicle operator licence
You can apply for a goods vehicle operator licence online. You also need to:
• advertise your application for a licence
• advertise your proposed operating centres
• designate a transport manager
• provide information about your financial situation
• draw up a maintenance contract with a garage or agent to do safety inspections and repair vehicles if you don’t do this yourself

Driver qualifications
Your drivers must be properly qualified.
To become a professional lorry, bus or coach driver, you must get a professional driving qualification called the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).
You must then do 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years to keep your Driver CPC qualification.
Find out more about employing people to drive

EU Community Licences
If you make international journeys for hire or reward within the EU, you must have both:
• a standard international vehicle operator licence
• an EU Community Licence
An EU Community Licence allows drivers to use a single permit for trips between all EU member states. The licence also allows transit traffic through EU member states and to and from non-member countries.
EU Community Licences also allow cabotage (journeys entirely within one other EU member state).

Community transit and the EU
Most regulations on the international carriage of goods by road within the EU have been harmonised as part of the single market.
Journeys between the UK and other EU member states are governed by common rules.
EU Community Licences are also valid in the 4 member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA):
• Iceland
• Liechtenstein
• Norway
• Switzerland
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway also belong to the European Economic Area (EEA). Many EU regulations are applied in all the EEA countries. However, in some areas, local laws still apply and therefore conditions vary between countries.
Find out more about dispatching your goods within the EU

How to apply for EU Community Licences
You can get EU Community Licences free of charge if you have a standard international vehicle operator licence.
Call the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to get an EU Community Licence. You’ll need your vehicle operator licence number to apply.

Detailed guidance
• International road haulage: vehicle documents
• International road haulage: the essentials
• International road haulage: driver documents

• Transporting goods

Explore the topic
• Driving in the UK and abroad
• Transport and driving businesses
• Transporting goods