Road Transport Cabotage Operations Cross Borders

Cabotage refers to the national carriage of goods for hire or reward carried out by non-resident hauliers on a temporary basis in a host Member State. As of 4 December 2011, access to the international road haulage market is governed by Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009 (see Chapter 3) that replaces Regulation (EEC) 881/92. The provisions of this Regulation concerning road cabotage are applicable as of 14 May 2010. 

This Regulation modernises, simplifies and streamlines rules in the road haulage transport sector in order to improve the efficiency of the EU by harmonising rules on cabotage and minimising the administrative burden to the industry. 

The aim of the Regulations is to improve the efficiency of road freight transport by reducing empty trips after the unloading of international transport operations. 

Parked Trucks

Article 8 of the Regulation provides that every haulier is entitled to perform up to three cabotage operations within a seven day period starting the day after the unloading of international transport. A copy of the regulations is available for download at the link below. 

A haulier may decide to carry out one, two or all three cabotage operations in different Member States and not necessarily the Member State in which the international transport was delivered. In this case, only one cabotage operation is allowed in a given Member State to be carried out within three days of entering that Member State without cargo. 

Cabotage and Cross-Border Trade 

Cabotage is the loading and unloading of goods for hire or reward between 2 points in a country by a vehicle that is not registered in that country. 

Cross-trade is the haulage of goods for hire or reward between 2 EU countries by a vehicle registered in a different EU country. 

If a haulier has delivered an international load to an EU country and holds an EU Community Licence, cabotage jobs may be carried out in that state. 

The EU countries are:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. 

Croatia is not included in this agreement. 

How many cabotage and cross-border trade jobs can be carried out? 

The number of cabotage jobs that may be carried out is limited by EU rules. Regulations currently allow for 3 cabotage jobs which must take place within 7 days of when the load that was brought into the country was dropped off. 

Further cabotage jobs may be carried out in other EU member states (except Croatia) on the home journey if: 

  • the vehicle enters the country empty 
  • no more than 3 jobs have been carried out in the 7 days limit 

Documents needed for cabotage 

A haulier must be able to prove that they are operating within the rules for cabotage. The driver must have documents with them showing the:

  • name, address and signature of the sender and haulier 
  • place and the date of taking over of the goods and the place designated for delivery 
  • name, address and signature of the international consignee with the date of delivery 
  • a common description of the goods, method of packing, number of packages and their special marks or numbers 
  • the gross mass of the goods or their quantity otherwise expressed 
  • number plates of the motor vehicle and trailer 
  • VAT on cabotage operations 

The haulier may be liable to pay VAT on cabotage operations in the member state in which the journey is made and will need to register in that country for VAT. 

According to the GOV.UK website the European Union (EU) member states that allow cabotage are:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden. 

Hauliers from the EU countries listed above may also conduct cabotage jobs inside the United Kingdom but the same conditions and regulations would apply.  

It should be noted that International Hauliers are required to produce clear evidence of the incoming international carriage and of each consecutive cabotage operation carried out whilst there. Stipulations regarding this can be found in article 8.3 of the regulation and require the following evidence:

  • Name, address and signature of the sender 
  • Name, address and signature of the haulier 
  • Name and address of the consignee as well as their signature and upon delivery, the date the goods are delivered 
  • Place and the date of taking over of the goods and the place designated for delivery 
  • Description of the nature of the goods and the method of packing, and, in the case of dangerous goods, their generally recognised description, as well as the number of packages and their special marks and numbers 
  • The gross weight of the goods or their quantity 
  • Registration numbers (identification plate numbers) of the vehicle and trailer 

An operator's vehicles undertaking cabotage must conform with the requirements for visiting vehicles and must also comply with the following conditions that would be applicable to a national operator in that country.  

These requirements include the following (as applicable to the rules prevailing in the relevant member state):

  • Weights and dimensions 
  • Adherence to the carriage of certain goods include the legislation applicable to dangerous goods, perishable foodstuffs and live animals 
  • Adherence to the Drivers' Hours Rules 
  • Negotiation of the appropriate conditions of carriage applicable in the member state concerned. It should be noted here that in certain member states the conditions of carriage may be applied by law and it may well be necessary to confirm with insurers the correct cover of insurance to cover all/any risks that prevail 
  • VAT is recoverable from member states and must be charged under the arrangements and at the rate applicable in the member state in which the service is provided. It should be noted here that the haulier will require to be registered in that state for VAT purposes 

The following should assist in giving guidance and further information, please use the links below. 

Cabotage Law 
EU Regulation 1072/2009 

Cabotage Facts  
https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Road_freight_transport_statistics_-_cabotage 

Development & Implementation of EU Road Cabotage 
https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/etudes/join/2013/495854/IPOL-TRAN_ET(2013)495854(ANN01)_EN.pdf