New legislation on cross-border haulage has been given royal assent as the government makes preparations for the UK's departure from the EU next year.

The Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act gives the government power to implement an operator permit scheme if such a measure is needed to support cross-border freight after Brexit.

The government’s recent White Paper outlined its aim to retain reciprocal access for road hauliers, but the new law is preparing for the possibility that the future exit deal could require a form of permitting system. This act sets out the legal framework for such a reality.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Royal Assent of the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act is a significant step in our preparations for exiting the European Union.

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“The haulage industry is at the heart of our trading relationship with the EU and we are confident that we will reach an agreement to maintain the current liberal access that is beneficial to both sides.

“But these powers give us the flexibility to have systems in place if a permit system is required and provides reassurance for hauliers to continue planning for a smooth EU exit.”

Elements of the act include:

  • Establishment of a framework for the regulation and enforcement of existing permit arrangements with non-EU countries;
  • Establishment of a trailer registration scheme allowing UK trailer users to meet the registration standards outlined in the 1968 Vienna Convention;
  • The DVSA is making progress in creating a permit administration scheme and the DVLA is establishing a trailer registration scheme. It is intended that both will be open for applications later this year.

The government has also begun working with stakeholders to produce a trailer safety report.

This follows extensive concerns around trailer safety during Parliamentary debate of the act. A report, due to be published by July 2019, will consider whether mandatory registration and periodic roadworthiness testing should be extended to additional trailer categories.