Driving Abroad and Cabotage

Driving an HGV abroad comes with a number of different challenges compared to driving in the UK.

There are a number of important things to know about, one of which is the practice of cabotage. Here are some things to keep in mind regarding cabotage and what it means for you when you drive an HGV overseas:

  • cabotage is where a vehicle registered in one country picks up goods in another country and deposits them within that same country;
  • there are rules in the EU states that govern how often cabotage jobs can be carried out. The current rules state that only three cabotage jobs can be carried out during a seven-day period starting when the international transport is delivered;
  • drivers who want to carry out cabotage deliveries in different member states to the one that they initially delivered their cargo are only allowed to carry out one delivery as opposed to three. In addition, you must carry it out within three days of entering that country without cargo;
  • you will require Community Authorisation in order to carry out such jobs, and you get this automatically when you receive your standard international licence;
  • for a list of EU states where cabotage is allowed, see the Gov.uk page that provides more details;
  • you may also have to pay VAT on your cabotage job in the state where the journey is made, so you must find out about the rules for that country before you make your delivery;
  • you should also know that you can lose your right to carry out cabotage jobs if you breach any safety rules.

There are other things that are important to know when you are driving abroad. The government has some excellent information here, and another good source of information is the Road Haulage Association (RHA) website. Some of the most important things include:

  • check for the legal regulations in the country or countries that you will be driving in because they may be different compared to the UK. For example, you may be required by law to carry a warning triangle, fire extinguisher, reflective jacket or snow chains among other things;
  • make sure your insurance covers you for overseas deliveries before you set off, and that you are covered for the particular country you will be travelling in. If not, compare HGV insurance policies to find a suitable one;
  • Low Emission Zones (LEZ) are used in towns and cities across the continent. If your emissions are above a set amount, you will either be refused entry or charged, so find out in advance about the requirements;
  • in order to avoid problems with LEZs, you will need a reduced pollution certificate (RPC) to show that you are permitted to enter. As well as this, you should take other documentation including a vehicle tax disc, V5C, insurance certificate and MOT;
  • you must also have a CMR note when delivering goods abroad on a commercial basis, which demonstrates that you have a contract from the supplier;
  • be aware that the maximum gross train weight (GTW) on Europe’s roads for UK-registered vehicles is 44,000 kilograms;
  • in some countries, there may be limits on the days and times you can drive. Contact the British Embassy in your destination country to find out whether these will affect you.

If you drive an HGV abroad, know the rules before you go. Find out about cabotage and all of the other country-specific requirements in advance and enjoy a safe and hassle-free experience driving overseas.

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