From May 2022, UK van drivers will need new licences to enter the EU

Recent plans to impose new measures on UK van drivers trading in EU countries haven’t gone down too well with business owners and private vehicle drivers alike, as many see them as too restrictive. One of these new measures includes the introduction of a new goods vehicle operator licence.

If you’re a fleet manager, or you’ve recently been looking for cheap van deals, you may have been following the recent developments regarding the new operating licences for van drivers looking to travel back and forth from the EU already. If you’re in need of a catch up though, we’ve collected all the latest information for you here.

So what’s happening?

Some time ago now, the government decided that starting from early 2022, all UK van drivers will need to get hold of a new international operating licence if they plan on making trips to and from Europe, as a direct result of the Brexit deal. The new “goods vehicle operator licence” will be required to enter the EU, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland as of May this year. Alongside this, a new series of checks that were delayed three times in 2021will be introduced across some UK ports including Dover.

The new licence will cost van drivers up to £1,100 – £257 in application fees and a further £401 for the licence. Another £401 will be added to this every five years as a “continuation fee” to retain the licence.

Drivers will also be required to assign either themselves (or a member of their staff if they’re a fleet manager) as “transport manager”. These managers will be required to show that they have at least 10 years of experience in managing fleets of vehicles, or they’ll have to complete a course to qualify for the qualification.

On top of all this, EU exporters will now be required to register for a Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) as full customs controls will be applied to all goods moved between the UK and EU. Exporters of agricultural foods from European Union countries will now have to notify UK authorities in advance regarding their exports, and this will be coupled with checks on fresh food products of animal origin and plants including flowers from Holland.

It’s not just van drivers that are being affected either. UK car drivers will now be required to show extra documentation before driving in the EU to prove they can actually drive. They’ll now need to present a copy of their green card (these can be provided by your insurer), display a UK badge on the rear of their vehicle, and show their regular UK drivers licence. All vehicles must also include an EU-spec breath-test kit, a warning triangle and high visibility jackets for all passengers.

What’s the response been?

That’s a lot of extra red tape! It’s probably no surprise then that people haven’t exactly warmed to news of the the new restrictions and the added costs that are coming along with it. Rod McKenzie, the managing director of policy and public affairs at the RHA (Road Haulage Association) gave his frank opinion: “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.”

Mr McKenzie’s comments have resonated with drivers around the country, but there’s no sign yet that the unease will do anything to slow the government’s rollout of the plans, so it’s worth making sure you’re braced for it in the coming months.

Regardless of whether you’re planning a trip to Europe or not, at Van Discount we make it as easy as possible for you to buy high quality vehicles, without all that red tape! We save our customers an average of 40% off the price of a new van, ranging from Luton vans, box body vans, Curtainside vans – and much more! All from a variety of top manufacturers, including Citroen, Ford and Peugeot. If you’re looking for advice, our in-house experts are happy to answer any of your queries. Just give us a call on 01282 872 530, and we’ll get you sorted!