Van drivers in UK will need new operating licences to enter EU from May

Latest Brexit red tape will come into force alongside a series of further checks at Dover and other ports

Last modified on Thu 16 Dec 2021 10.23 EST

Van drivers will be required to get new international operating licences if they want to travel back and forth to the EU from May next year, the government has announced.

The additional red tape will come into force next year alongside a series of further checks at Dover and other ports that were delayed three times in 2021 because of lack of preparation for Brexit in Great Britain.

According to updates on the website, anyone driving a van, a light commercial vehicle or any car towing a trailer will be required to have a “goods vehicle operator licence” to enter the EU, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland from May.

The licence will cost van drivers up to £1,100, a significant burden for solo operators, industry leaders said.

Drivers will have to fork out £257 in an application fee and a further £401 for the licence. Another £401 “continuation fee” will be payable every five years to retain the licence, according to

The rules will hit small traders such as couriers or importers of wine or vintage and antique goods, the Road Haulage Association said.

Rod McKenzie, the managing director of policy and public affairs at the RHA, said: “This is just more bureaucracy. It’s been flagged for some time but could be a problem for the one-man bands or small operators who are simply too busy running their business day to day to have noticed this.”

Drivers will also need to assign a staff member or themselves as “transport manager” – a named individual to ensure the driver follows industry regulations and tax payments in the EU after Brexit.

The person will either have to demonstrate they have managed fleets of vehicles for at least 10 years or will have to complete a course to qualify for a transport manager qualification.

A slew of other rules in the UK will hit hauliers of all sizes from 1 January when EU exporters need to register for a goods vehicle movement service (GVMS) as full customs controls will apply to all goods moving in both directions between the EU and Great Britain.

Hauliers who do not have the paperwork will not be allowed to board a ferry or shuttle.

The new checks on EU imports have been delayed three times but will be phased in over 2022. David Frost, the Brexit minister, announced they would continue to be delayed for importers from Ireland.

From 1 January exporters of agrifoods from the EU will also have to notify authorities in advance in Great Britain of their exports with physical checks on fresh food, products of animal origin, and plants including cut flowers from the Netherlands from July.

A new site at Bastion Point in Dover has just been agreed for these sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks.

A second border control post is being added to the existing HMRC facility in Sevington in Ashford to deal with SPS checks on plants and wood products, high-risk foods not of animal origin, horses and livestock.

A third site in Kent is being identified, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

McKenzie said: “Brexit was challenging initially for hauliers with loads delayed and lots of frustration but as ever with logistics, people have found their way. The big challenge for 2022 is how ready our EU counterparts will be for entry into GB.”

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