Travelling with trailers after Brexit: what hauliers need to know

Commercial Motor
March 25, 2019

At the time of writing, from 28 March 2019, UK hauliers will have to register their commercial trailers with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) before towing them into any European country that ratified the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. Online applications opened at the start of this month; FTA, the business organisation representing the interests of the logistics sector, strongly advises anyone planning to tow a trailer abroad for commercial use from 28 March 2019 to complete their trailer registration as soon as possible or risk receiving either a fixed penalty in the UK or hefty fines in Europe.

While trailer registration in continental Europe is already commonplace, the UK has not required the registration of trailers in the past. This historically has been the cause of disruption to some freight routes, according to the Department for Transport (DfT). And while this new rule forms part of the UK’s preparation to leave the EU, it will come into force whether we leave with a withdrawal agreement or without.

The 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic was ratified by 42 countries in the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Europe, but several nations abstained, including Spain, Malta, Cyprus and the Republic of Ireland. Lichtenstein is another country that has not ratified the 1968 Convention however getting there requires that you travel through countries that have so trailer registration will be required.   Make sure to check the full list of applicable countries before registering.

Registrations can be completed online via the gov.uk website and applicants must submit information on their trailer’s manufacturer, chassis number, permissible maximum mass and unladen mass. Only those operating commercial trailers weighing over 750kg or non-commercial trailers over 3.5 tonnes need apply. Under the rules, drivers will also need to be able present the Trailer Registration Certificate they receive from DVLA, to a foreign authority on request, it needs to be the original Certificate, photocopies are not allowed. The trailer also needs to clearly display a trailer registration plate (separate from the vehicle towing them) which is consistent with the provisions of the 1968 convention, the registration number will be supplied by DVLA and should not be confused with either the C number or Certificate of keeper number which is supplied by DVSA. Failure to display plates could result in a fine in Europe or a fixed penalty in the UK.

Further information on how to register trailers can be found here www.gov.uk/guidance/trailer-registration 

By Ian Gallagher, Head of Compliance Information at FTA (Freight Transport Association)

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