New market access rules for hauliers

30 December 2020

The Department for Transport (DfT) has issued an important update for transport operators on market access rules following the new UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

It emphasises that UK and EU operators will continue to be able to provide services to, from and through each other’s territories. Hauliers can also continue to make some additional movements within the other’s territory.

UK hauliers will be able to undertake unlimited bilateral (point-to-point) journeys to and from the EU and unlimited transit journeys through the European Union to a non-EU country.

Operators and drivers will need to comply with traffic management regulations in Kent, such as Operation Brock if congestion builds at the border, and must use the “Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border service” before reaching Kent (see / for details).

ECMT permits

Hauliers should check whether their proposed journeys are covered by the TCA and, if not, should consider whether they need an ECMT (European Conference of Ministers of Transport) permit for a third cross-trade journey in the EU, or to make a journey to another country that is part of the ECMT system in January and/or February.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will be able to issue a short term (30-day) permits for these journeys if a firm has not already been allocated an annual ECMT permit (contact via

Permits will however only be issued for journeys that involve a third cross-trade journey or ECMT member country and applicants may be asked to provide evidence of previous trips or future contracts.

“While we assess demand,” DfT explained, “we will only issue permits to cover journeys that commence in January and February and you must return completed ECMT logbooks within two weeks of the expiry of the permit. Arrangements for access after February will be confirmed in the New Year.”

Hauliers will need an ECMT permit to make journeys to other ECMT member countries that are not in the EU or covered by a bilateral arrangement: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Moldova and Montenegro.

See GOV.UK for more information.


Up to two additional movements in the EU will also be possible — cabotage or cross-trade — following a laden journey from the UK, with a maximum of one cabotage movement, performed within a seven-day period.

DfT explains that cabotage refers to moving goods between two points within one EU Member State (from Paris to Lille, for example); Cross-trade is moving goods between two EU Member States (such as taking a load from Paris to Brussels); and a laden journey is one where a haulier is moving goods.

Both additional movements may be cabotage movements in Ireland for Northern Ireland operators, provided they follow a laden journey from Northern Ireland and are performed within seven days.