Backhouse Jones Watermark

A Weight on your Shoulders?

02 August

3.5 tonne weight exemption for international licensing to fall

Historically, the UK has not required operators to hold an operator’s licence to run vehicles domestically with a Maximum Permitted Weight (MPW) under 3.5 tonnes, and even on an international EU basis that threshold currently remains the same. However, this situation in terms of EU vehicle operation has an end date, and a date for change that may well lead to some new UK legislation.

Originally, it was thought that this change would come as of 21 February 2022, and this seemed to be the case on reading Article ROAD.6(d) of the EU-UK Trade and Co-Operation Agreement (TCA). However, both the EU and, it would seem, the UK have taken advantage of an extension and instead it looks as if these changes will take effect from May 2022. The change, in short, is this: goods vehicles travelling to the EU with a maximum permissible weight of over 2.5 tonnes but below 3.5 tonnes will no longer be exempt from holding a valid operator’s licence and UK Licence for the Community (predecessor to the Community Licence).

How this change is going to be implemented in both legislation and the current infrastructure of the Office of the Traffic Commissioner and the Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA) is not yet totally clear.

In fact, the DVSA are currently in the process of working with international van operators to try and better understand enforcement and compliance in this area going forwards. The DVSA recently circulated a call for volunteers to take part in 45-minute research sessions across August and/or October 2021, to hear the views of those who will be impacted by this change in the operator licensing regime. The contact given in the update circulated is and it is asked that those wishing to take part email explicitly stating that they wish to be involved in the van research.

Furthermore, operators wishing to take part further in the research and who may wish to have their views heard should look to respond to the ‘Call for evidence’ published by the DfT on this subject, found via the link here.

This call for evidence not only addresses the changes coming from the TCA regarding operator’s licensing but also looks at possible new rules for posted workers. It also makes brief reference to the requirements for smaller commercial vehicles to be fitted with tachographs and changes to EUc tachograph rules, thought to be coming into effect in 2026.

It is unclear how many operators will be impacted by these changes to the rules at this moment in time. However, there are some operators who will find them trickier than others. Those operators based in Northern Ireland, and therefore based in the UK, will no doubt realise that if their vans travel into the Republic of Ireland (and therefore into the EU), that in itself may be considered an international journey, and it could be that for vans an operator’s licence is required to make that trip.

For more advice on the changes to the operator’s licence regime coming as a consequence of the TCA, contact Backhouse Jones Regulatory Department at or on 01254 828300.

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