What Brexit Really Means For Hauliers

What Brexit really means for the haulage industry and what are the implications of a "no deal" Brexit?

While Brexit negotiations are still underway for the next 3 months and nothing is agreed as yet, the possibility of a no-deal Brexit becomes even more likely. The concept of a no-deal Brexit has undoubtedly worried many including hauliers who deliver within the UK and those that deliver to and from EU Countries and with Government issuing guidance to different industries in the event of a no-deal it can all get a bit confusing.

It is time to think about what a No-Deal means for those operating in the haulage sector and exactly how that will affect the Haulage Industry.

The current position


The Facts

At the moment the UK is still a part of the EU and effectively it is business as usual. The exit is a staged process and it is set down by Article 50 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. Given that this has never previously been invoked by another Member State, the UK are now embarking upon a piece of legislation that has never been used before. Article 50 is triggered by a Member State stating that it wishes to leave the EU and negotiations then being held on a withdrawal agreement.

After Article 50 was triggered and sent to the TFEU (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), the UK and the EU negotiate how the UK’s future relations with the EU will look. The UK is still a member of the EU and will fully participate in EU business.

Other European countries like Switzerland and Norway have their own relationships with the EU which have been negotiated over years and these offer frameworks of what might in theory be achieved for the UK. Norway + as it is known. These frameworks provide certain pillars of EU membership such as the free movement of goods to extend, but they require many conditions to be respected such as respect for competition rules and other regulatory controls.

Current Transport Law

Many of the laws that govern the road haulage industry have emanated from the EU and therefore a valid question that operators now have is whether these laws will still apply and once our membership is terminated.

The underpinning law for HGV operators is found in the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995, and that is domestic legislation, meaning that Brexit does not affect the status of this.


Drivers Hours

While rules on drivers’ hours began in Europe through EC Regulation 561/2006, the UK adopted these regulations within the Transport Act 1968 and consequently this law will remain therefore when we leave the EU the driver’s hour’s rules will have very little impact on the underlying UK laws which have implemented directives such as 561/2006.  Any haulier operating outside of the UK would still have to be operating in accordance with EU regulations to avoid criminal implications while driving in those countries.

For an easy guide on understanding driving hours and their regulations click here.



An area of law which may change upon leaving the EU will be in terms of cabotage. The UK Government deal with this during the exit negotiations as ignorance with regard to this issue could cause untold damage to operators that undertake journeys across the EU.

A fairly recent EU Regulation applied to EU members from March 2016 introducing the “smart tachograph” which aimed to reduce the administrative red tape on hauliers and to eliminate the most serious forms of tachograph offending. This regulation means that vehicles that are registered for the first time after 2 March 2019 will need to be fitted with a smart tachograph.

There seems to be little sense in the UK looking to unravel European driven transport legislation as that will undermine UK hauliers’ ability to participate in European trade and the movement of goods on the Continent.


Transport operations

Initially we could see stricter border controls and the expectation is that this will mean that the ability to cross the border into and out of the UK will be a slower process, thereby affecting the efficiency of transport operations.


Driver Shortages after Brexit

A concern, which was already a growing issue in the haulage sector, is regarding driver shortages. The haulage sector draws heavily from the EU for its workers and therefore industry must not only continue to deal with an ageing driver population and an ongoing driver shortage, but must now deal with the potential of not having access to workers moving into the UK to fill these driving jobs. A further issue could be that foreign labour returns home if the pound continues to drop and Britain enters the recession which the press has frequently spoken about. However, it may be that to deal with the issue of driver shortages, the Government pulls away from the EU driven concept of Driver CPC (DCPC), which some people see as a hindrance to new labour entering the haulage industry.

Whatever happens remains to be seen, but for now operators must continue running their vehicles as they have done in the past. Britain will be able to attract drivers to the country in a No-Deal situation by stating that these vacancies are critical jobs.


Driving Licences & Customs Delays

In a no-deal scenario, UK driving licence will no longer be valid in the EU, unless it is with an International Driving Permit. For hauliers, this becomes a vast administrative undertaking and will no doubt cause delays.

With the requirement for checking shipments at customs, delays are inevitable. However, research by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) found that just half an hour of UK customs delays has the potential to bankrupt around 10% of firms.


Certificate of Professional Competence

Drivers, transport operators and managers must have a Certificate of Professional Competence in order to work in the EU. Previously, this certificate was more accessible to acquire as they can be issued in the UK. However, from Brexit, drivers will need their certification to be issued from an EU country to continue working in the EU. A driver breaking these rules would potentially be voiding their vehicle insurance, which is a no-go for hauliers.


Permanent Establishment

A no-deal Brexit will mean that UK firms, who want to continue operating in the EU will need a ‘Permanent Establishment’ in an EU member state. Those without a ‘Permanent Establishment’ will no longer be able to deliver goods within the EU.

“The stark reality is that if customs controls are put in place, it will take an average of about 30 minutes to process one truck on both sides of the channel.

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