If you are a professional driver, there are a number of documents you will be responsible for having onboard when driving to the EU after the transition period has come to an end.
First and foremost, you will undoubtedly be required to have your full UK driving licence with you when driving, either a lorry or a PSV, in the EU. However, an additional permit you yourself will be required to carry is something called an International Driving Permit (IDP). These can be obtained from the Post Office and an application cost of £5.50 will be required. In order to be eligible for an IDP, however, you are required (1) to be a Great Britain or Northern Ireland resident, (2) have a full UK driving licence, and (3) be 18 or over. However, be aware that different, specific EU Member States may require different types of IDP. There are different variations depending on how far along the destination country is to ratifying certain international treaties. A useful tool for drivers and operators is likely to be the Post Office’s IDP Checker Tool (link below) which, from 1 January 2021, may be able to give you an indication of which type of IDP will be needed, although we have not had this confirmed by them.
There may also be concern about Driver Certificates of Professional Competence and what requirements will be in place after the end of the transition period. All UK drivers will still need a Driver CPC in order to work as lorry or bus or coach drivers and drive in the EU. If you are a UK driver working for a UK company, then you will not need to do anything, and your UK-issued CPC qualification should still be recognised. If, however, you hold a UK-issued Driver CPC qualification and work for a company based in the EU, then you will likely be required to exchange your qualification for the relevant qualification, card or equivalent in that particular country.
You may also need to renew your passport. On the day that you travel, a driver’s passport will need to have at least 6 months of validity left, and be less than 10 years old, even if it does have 6 months of validity left. GOV.UK guidance indicates that it usually takes 3 weeks if you need to renew your passport. However, the closer we come to the end of the transition period, the more individuals are likely to start checking their passports and start applying for renewal. It is probably better to apply early in order to beat any rush that may come about as a consequence of the deadline.
With visas, the position is still quite uncertain. You will probably not need a visa to travel to an EU Member State for a short period of time, however, with visas, it is always best to check with the destination country or countries as they may have brought in different, specific international requirements. Generally speaking, you are unlikely to need a visa, according to European Commission proposals, if you are in an EU Member State for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. The reason the position is unclear in respect of drivers is because it is not certain whether this rule applies also to work.
Travel to Ireland will remain the same. The UK has a mutually recognised Common Travel Area which includes Ireland. Drivers should be able to travel there without a visa.
Lastly, but possibly the most important, drivers should be aware of their coverage with regard to healthcare and health insurance. Once the transition period has come to an end, European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) or E111s may not be valid. This means that if a driver is involved in an accident and/or requires medical care whilst in an EU Member State, they may not be covered for the cost. It is wise for drivers to start looking at potential products available to cover them. Be warned, even if you are a driver and you believe that you are already covered for healthcare in the EU, that coverage may only extend to you as a private tourist or where you are travelling for leisure. It may not cover you for professional work as a driver.
The above are just some of the areas that professional drivers should be aware of as we approach the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. It is wise to remain aware of the implications of Brexit and how this will affect you. Useful sources can be found on our Brexit Hub, the GOV.UK website and other officially published resources.
If you require advice on how the end of the transition period may impact you as a driver, please contact our Regulatory Department on 01254 828300 or firstname.lastname@example.org