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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Joint rules on access to the EU road haulage market

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Joint rules on access to the EU road haulage market

International road transport operations* have been fully liberalised within the European Union. However, national road transport within an EU country by hauliers not resident in that country, known as cabotage*, is still subject to restrictions. The introduction of common rules for accessing the international and cabotage markets helps promote fair competition.


Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 on common rules for access to the international road haulage market.



It lays down common rules applicable to access to the market in the international carriage of goods* by road within the EU. It also lays down the conditions under which non-resident hauliers may operate transport services within an EU country.


The law applies to:

  • the international carriage of goods by road for hire or reward* for journeys carried out within the EU;
  • the national carriage of goods by road carried out temporarily by a non-resident haulier;
  • the part of the journey that takes place in the territory of any EU country in transit, where the carriage takes place between an EU country and a non-EU country - it does not apply to the part of the journey on the territory of the EU country of loading or unloading.

To carry out international carriage, a haulier must possess a Community licence and, if the driver is a non-EU national, a driver attestation as well.

A Community licence is:

  • issued by the competent authorities of the EU country of establishment to any haulier who is entitled to carry out the international carriage of goods by road for hire or reward;
  • renewable for a period of up to 10 years;
  • issued in the name of the haulier and non-transferable.

A driver attestation is:

  • issued by the competent authorities of the EU country in which the haulier holding an EU licence is based who uses or employs a driver in that country who is neither an EU national nor a long-term resident
  • valid for a period of up to 5 years.

If these conditions are not met, the same authorities can reject an application for the issue or renewal of a licence or the issue of an attestation. If the holder of either a Community licence or driver attestation no longer satisfies the conditions or has supplied incorrect information, the licence or attestation is withdrawn.

The law imposes strict regulations on cabotage operations, in particular:

  • any haulier for hire or reward who is a Community licence holder and whose driver, if a non-EU national, holds a driver attestation, is entitled to carry out cabotage operations in an EU country (other than the one in which it is established) on a temporary basis following an international operation into that country;
  • after the goods concerned in the international carriage have been delivered, the hauliers have 7 days in which they may undertake up to 3 cabotage operations;
  • 3 cabotage operations may also be carried out in any other EU country following an international carriage, with a limit of 1 operation per country.

This law only applies if the haulier can produce proof of the international carriage of goods into the EU country concerned as well as proof of each consecutive cabotage operation undertaken.

Cabotage operations are subject to national legislation in the host EU country regarding the:

  • conditions governing the transport contract;
  • weights and dimensions of road vehicles;
  • requirements concerning the carriage of certain categories of goods, in particular dangerous goods, perishable food items and live animals;
  • driving time and rest periods;
  • value added tax (VAT) on transport services.

The above laws and regulations apply equally to non-resident hauliers and to hauliers established in the host EU country.

Where a haulier infringes EU road transport legislation:

  • the competent authorities of the EU country of establishment may issue a warning or impose administrative penalties such as withdrawing the Community licence;
  • if the haulier is a non-resident, the EU country in which the infringement took place will inform the competent authority in the haulier’s country of establishment describing the infringement and the penalties imposed.

All serious infringements must be recorded in the national electronic register of road transport undertakings.

A 2014 Commission report on the EU road transport market found that:

  • EU countries’ authorities need to enforce the existing EU legislation more consistently and more effectively;
  • the EU can help by clarifying rules which are understood, interpreted and implemented differently in different EU countries;
  • social rules must be better applied in road transport to attract new drivers and to handle future demand for freight transport;
  • these changes can both increase the efficiency of the EU economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from road transport.

For more information, see the European Commission’s road haulage website.


* Road transport operation: the entire journey of goods by road to their final destination

* Cabotage: where a haulier registered in one EU country carries out national transport in another EU country.

* Carriage of goods: the act of carrying and transporting goods.

*Hire or reward: the carriage for remuneration, of persons or goods, on behalf of third parties (OECD definition).



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009



OJ L 300, 14.11.2009, pp. 72-87

Amending act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EU) No 612/2012



OJ L 178, 10.7.2012, p. 5

Regulation (EU) No 517/2013



OJ L 158 of 10.6.2013, pp. 1-71


Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the state of the Union road transport market (COM(2014) 222 final of 14.4.2014).

last update 30.06.2015