Hundreds of UK international hauliers have been left confused and angry after failing to secure European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permits.

Under current European legislation UK hauliers will not be able to transport goods in and across Europe if the UK crashes out of Europe, without ECMT permits.

The DfT is currently scrambling to secure a reciprocal arrangement which will make the ECMT permits unnecessary, but failure to secure a deal could see hundreds of international hauliers’ livelihoods threatened.

Results of the first bidding round for 984 annual permits, announced last week, revealed the extent of the shortage of ECMT permits.

The bid was vastly oversubscribed, with 11,392 permit applications made by 1,991 haulage companies, leaving hundreds of hauliers without any permits or with significantly fewer than they had applied for.

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This week the DfT revealed that it has secured another tranche of annual ECMT permits, estimated to be around 720, which completes the UK’s full allocation.

These will be up for grabs in another bidding round expected to take place early this month, with around 140 of these divided into approximately 1,680 monthly permits.

A further 2,800 monthly permits are also up for grabs, with the bidding for these expected to begin shortly

Hauliers that failed to get permits in the first round will be automatically entered into these subsequent rounds.

However these are is expected to be even more oversubscribed as, unlike the first round, which was restricted to Euro-6 trucks, they will include Euro-5 trucks.

What happened?

Hauliers slammed the way the DFT and DVSA have handled the process this week.

The MD of one major international UK haulier who failed to get all the permits he applied for told “I think the DFT and DVSA have not looked at this process correctly and they have not done their research on UK hauliers who actually do go to Europe on a daily basis.

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"I think some companies who never enter Europe in the UK to EU haulage business have applied and have got some permits, which should have been given to genuine international haulage companies like ours.”

Dave Shepherd, fleet manager at Redhead International questioned the criteria used to allocate permits.

He said: “We asked for 12 permits and received none. I am puzzled as to how they scored companies.

"Did some companies exaggerate? We have 12 vehicles doing two trips per week every week of the year so our need is clear.”

He added: “I was surprised and disappointed but I am not particularly worried as there is another tranche coming and I believe there will be a reciprocal arrangement, as the EU needs this as much as we do.”

Shepherd also questioned the right of DVSA to keep the application charge of £10 per truck in the case of hauliers that have not been granted any permits.

“I would like to get back the £120 we paid to apply for 12 licences. That’s a lot of money the industry has paid, especially for those that do not get any permits.”

Truck driver Mason Stephens said the selection process should be clearer.

He said: “Should an operator with 60 trucks on an international O-licence that sends three or four trucks over be given 60 or three permits? Will an owner driver on a specific contract with one O-licence but who carries out four crossings a week be overlooked? Who is the person or persons that decide?

"My boss runs a modern fleet of two artics and carried out 140 crossings last year for the aviation sector yet his application was declined.”

Bicester-based SDM International was luckier than many, receiving two permits.

Transport manager Liam Kiely told “We applied for six permits and got two. We would have liked more.


"We are a 100% European operation. We have six trucks each making three trips a week but if we can only send two trucks a day we don’t have a business.”

An owner driver who also failed to get a permit said he was concerned that he will not be able to make a living in the UK.

“I have been working between the UK and Europe for 25 years. Without a permit I might as well sell my truck as I cannot compete with the European hauliers in my area doing cabotage.”

Rod McKenzie, RHA MD of policy and public affairs, said: “It is absolute chaos and very confusing for hauliers. We can understand the frustration and anger of those international hauliers that have missed out on round one.

"We hope there will be a stay of execution on the need for ECMT permits but it is all speculation at this late stage and so we are urging our members to continue to apply for the permits until we know otherwise.”

In a statement the DfT said it is “in discussions with road haulage stakeholders on the process of allocating the additional ECMT permits”.

It added that it is confident of securing a deal which will allow hauliers the current level of access to Europe.