Logistics expertise 21.02.2022

EU Licence: the following new rules apply to courier and parcel services

Hard drive with boxes around the edge, in the middle of the boxes is a chip containing a plane, a truck, a forklift, a map and a

Is it possible to transport goods or offer cabotage services internationally without an EU community licence? Courier and parcel services are facing changes to EU laws that come into effect on 21 May 2022. The EU adopted changes to the regulations for access to the profession and to the market on 21 February 2022. These changes dictate that operators of smaller vehicles, starting at a maximum authorised mass of over 2.5 tonnes, must be in possession of an EU community licence.

This blog post discusses the ramifications for transport companies and provides information on applying for an EU licence.

EU community licence requirements – who do they apply to?

Transport companies that engage in international goods transport or cabotage using motor vehicles must have a community licence (also known as an EU licence). This currently applies to all companies operating vehicles with a maximum authorised mass of over 3.5 tonnes.

Starting on 21 May 2022, the licensing requirement will be extended to include vehicles or tractor-trailer combinations with a maximum authorised mass of over 2.5 tonnes.

As a result, starting on 21 May 2022, even smaller vehicles and courier services will not be allowed to cross European borders unless the company is in possession of a valid EU licence. The type of vehicle (car or truck) is immaterial. The only deciding factor is the maximum authorised mass of the vehicle, which includes the mass of any trailers.

Important: nothing will change for those parcel services that only send goods within national borders.


What is an EU Licence?

Anyone wishing to transport goods for commercial purposes within Europe must have a community licence. This licence is extremely important for transport companies. It allows them to operate commercial freight transport operations within their own country and internationally within the EU.

Licences are initially valid for ten years and issued on site by the relevant competent authority (in Germany this is the Verkehrsbehörde, or traffic authority).


EU licence requirements

To apply for an EU licence, a company must provide proof of the following requirements for access to the profession:

  • Establishment with premises
  • Professional competence
  • Financial standing
  • Good repute

The following sections explain each of these requirements in detail.


Establishment with premises

Proof of an establishment with premises serves primarily to prevent shell companies and ensure that business is regulated. In accordance with the directive, the premises must guarantee access to originals of core business documents, such as

  • Transport contracts
  • Documents relating to the vehicles at the disposal of the undertaking
  • Accounting documents
  • Personnel management documents
  • Labour contracts
  • Social security documents
  • Documents containing data on the dispatching and posting of drivers
  • Documents containing data relating to cabotage, driving time and rest periods

These documents must be in electronic or any other form.

In addition, the directive rules that vehicles owned by a company must return to an operational centre in their home country at the latest eight weeks after crossing an international border.


Professional competence

Transport companies must ensure that at least one person employed by the company possesses the necessary professional competence required to run a commercial road haulage company. The company must provide the name of this person to authorities.

In Germany, proof of professional competence is provided after the person successfully passes an examination at their local IHK (Chamber of Commerce and Industry). Alternatively, graduating from an apprenticeship or university program can serve as proof, provided the apprenticeship or degree is considered suitable.

Exception: people who can provide proof that they have continuously managed a road haulage undertaking or a road passenger transport undertaking for the period of 10 years before 4 December 2009 can apply to the IHK to have their professional competence recognised based on their years of experience. These rules apply to companies that have carried out commercial freight transport requiring authorisation using vehicles and vehicle combinations with a maximum authorised mass of over 3.5 tonnes.

Financial standing

EU licences are only granted to solvent companies that can prove they have a certain amount of capital. The amount required is based on the number of vehicles used by the company, as follows:

  • €9,000 for the first motor vehicle used
  • €5,000 for each additional motor vehicle used that has a maximum authorised mass exceeding 3.5 tonnes
  • €900 for each additional motor vehicle used that has a maximum authorised mass exceeding 2.5 tonnes but not exceeding 3.5 tonnes

Exception: companies that only use vehicles with a maximum authorised mass totalling more than 2.5 tonnes but less than 3.5 tonnes do not need to prove their financial standing until 21 May 2022. They must comply with the following:

  • €1,800 for the first motor vehicle used
  • €900 for each additional motor vehicle used

Companies in Germany can request that their bank provide proof that they have enough capital available.


Good repute

Finally, the company must provide proof of good repute. This proof must be provided to the local competent authority and applies to both the business owner and the transport manager, in the event that they are not the same person.

There are a variety of certificates required to prove good repute: in Germany companies may be required to provide information from the Federal Central Criminal Register, Commercial Central Register or Driving Aptitude Register. Authorities will also ask for information from additional German registers and EU registers, such as the Transport Company File (Verkehrsunternehmerdatei), a file kept by the German Federal Office for Goods Transport that contains information on transport companies.
If there are criminal offences or misdemeanours recorded in the Commercial Central Register or Transport Company File, a person can no longer be considered to be in good repute. This may lead to loss of good repute in the eyes of the authorities, which essentially means the person in question is disqualified from carrying out the job.

Once a company has met all three criteria, they can apply for an EU licence at their local competent authority.


What is the EU licence application process like?

To receive an EU licence, transport companies must apply for one at their local competent authority. The authority will provide a checklist containing detailed information on which of the proofs listed above must be submitted, and in what form, for the licence application.

Applicants need to

  • make sure that the proofs they provide are valid: In Germany, information about the good repute of a person as listed on register certificates in only valid for a short amount of time, but proving professional competence can take several months.
  • A certificate of good repute and information from the Commercial Central Register may not be older than three months when submitted.
  • However, it can take several weeks between applying for and receiving the licence, and companies should expect preparation for the IHK professional competence exam to also take several weeks.

Tip: It’s a good idea to apply for the licence around three weeks in advance of the IHK exam appointment. If you pass the test on the first try, you can then provide proof of professional competence from the IHK to the licensing authority. However, it is only possible to hand in this certificate later if all other prerequisites have been fulfilled.

If you do not pass the IHK exam on the first time, find out when the next exam is immediately and sign up.

The EU licence in practice

Applying for an EU licence can be difficult for transport companies. But if all your ducks are in a row, you should be able to apply for and receive the licence with no problems.

There’s no point going to all that effort, however, unless you have enough customers across Europe to make it worthwhile. Which is where TIMOCOM’s Smart Logistics System comes in! The System is a platform hosting more than 133,000 users from over 50,000 verified companies and provides support as you quickly and efficiently process international transport orders.

Not only that, you can enter your new EU licence into the TIMOCOM system to prove to potential business partners that your company is above board and in compliance with the law. In turn, viewing other company profiles provides a close look at Europe’s transport and logistics landscape, allowing you to get in touch with potential business partners and expand your business opportunities.

Test our Smart Logistics System now with no obligations and find international business partners that require your services!

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