Cabotage Rules and Vehicle Seizure

Vehicle seizures for breaching cabotage rules can not only be a major inconvenience for any transport business, but can cause serious financial problems, especially if a vehicle is not returned and further regulatory action is taken.

JMW’s expert road transport solicitors have experience of handling issues related to cabotage rules, including advice and representation for the return of a seized vehicle. We can also ensure you are compliant with the law by ensuring you have the right policies and documentation in place.

To speak to a solicitor if you have had a vehicle seized, contact us today by calling 0345 872 6666, or by filling in our online enquiry form to request a call back.

How JMW Can Help

Our road transport specialists can provide operators and drivers with assistance and advice in relation to the cabotage rules, including:

  • The implementation of a comprehensive written policy in relation to cabotage
  • The documentation that drivers should carry with them when carrying out cabotage operations
  • Challenging fixed penalty notices issued in relation to alleged breaches of the cabotage rules
  • Retrieving a vehicle seized following a breach of cabotage

What Does Cabotage Mean?

‘Cabotage’ is the carriage of goods between two points in one country by an operator based in another country. It enables a UK-based operator to enter an EU Member State (‘the host’) on an international journey, deliver goods and pick up and deliver further goods on journeys within the host, before departing from the host. However, such journeys are limited by law and must be temporary, non-permanent and irregular.

What are Cabotage Rules?

The EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) standardised trade between the EU and the UK post-Brexit. Among other provisions, cabotage rules were changed and a new licensing regime for internationally working UK operators was brought in.

Previously, operators who held something called a Community Authorisation could carry out three cabotage operations within a host state within a seven-day period. The TCA has changed these rules and now requires UK operators to hold a UK Licence for the Community to carry out either two cross-trade operations, or one cross-trade operation and one cabotage operation, within a seven-day period, when they are travelling into the EU,

An exception is built into the TCA in that UK operators established in Northern Ireland may carry out two cabotage journeys within the Republic of Ireland.

‘Cross-trade operations’ are any goods movement between two countries, neither of which are the operator’s country of origin.

FAQs About Cabotage

What documents are required for UK operators to make international journeys?

Should UK operators want to make international journeys within the EU, they must hold both of the following:

  1. A standard international operator’s licence - this applies to internationally travelling vehicles with a maximum permissable weight above 2.5 tonnes
  2. A UK Licence for the Community

The UK Licence for the Community also allows operators to make journeys within Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, as well as the EU.

What are the penalties for breaching cabotage rules?

The DVSA include cabotage in all roadside checks of foreign vehicles and operators found to be in breach of the rules will receive a prohibition notice and/or could potentially see their vehicle seized. If a vehicle is seized by the DVSA, an application is required to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner for the vehicle to be returned.

UK operators carrying out international journeys without the proper licensing and/or abusing those licences can be reported to the Traffic Commissioner.

Talk to Us

If you need advice on how the cabotage rules affect your business, speak to one of our specialist road transport solicitors today. Call 0345 872 6666 now, or fill in our online enquiry form to request a call back.