The essentials of international road haulage

Goods vehicle operator's licence

You must have a goods vehicle operator's licence to transport goods for commercial purposes in heavy goods vehicles. They are available in three formats:

  • restricted
  • standard national
  • standard international

The standard international licence allows you to carry goods both in the UK and on international journeys. The licence comes into force once the fee has been paid and the licence documents are issued. Providing the annual fee is paid and there are no infringements, the licence lasts indefinitely.

Identity discs are also issued and must be displayed in each specified motor vehicle. The identity discs show the:

  • operator's name
  • vehicle registration mark
  • operator's licence number
  • disc expiry date
  • type of licence

Operators and hauliers who are issued with international licences also receive European Union (EU) Community Authorisations. A valid, certified blue copy is required for all hire or reward operations in or through EU countries. They have replaced the need for community permits, bilateral permits between member states and permits for transit traffic through the EU. They do not replace permits for travel to or through non-EU countries where these are still required.

The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) provides detailed information on all aspects of goods vehicle operator licensing.

Important: After Brexit, lorry and truck drivers from the UK will need extra documentation to drive in the EU and EEA.

Read the latest UK government guidance for lorry and goods vehicle drivers on preparing to drive in the EU after Brexit.