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UK hauliers have been given an extension to apply for European Conference of Ministers for Transport (ECMT) permits, which may be their only option for moving goods across Europe in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The original deadline was midnight tonight, but the UK government has just announced it is extending it to 18 January 2019.

Freight Transport Association (FTA) European policy manager, Sarah Laouadi, told delegates at the Getting Logistics Ready for Brexit conference that ECMTs were a very real prospect.

“In the case of no deal, it is looking more and more likely that ECMTs may be the only option for UK hauliers travelling to the continent,” she said.

“The problem with relying on ECMTs is that there is a limit of 984 for UK vehicles, with the permit for each individual vehicle rather than the operator.”

Under ECMT rules, operators can travel through 43 countries, but are limited to three loaded trips each month, and each jurisdiction has its own additional clauses. For example, for the permit to be valid in Italy, operators must make their first trip into an ECMT nation in a loaded vehicle, or the ECMT is invalid.

Manager of international transport and trade procedures at the FTA John Lucy said: “You don’t want to be caught out on ECMTs, as the fines are high – €30,000-€40,000 in some cases. And you must remember that the licence is for an individual vehicle and does not cover an operator’s fleet.”

There have been promising noises, however, out of Whitehall and Europe, with a prospective deal on the cards to avoid having to implement ECMTs.

Ms Laouadi said the EU had offered to accept UK permits for the nine months of 2019 after March without the need for ECMTs, provided the UK reciprocated.

“This obviously covers 2019, but I would still advise operators to apply for ECMTs rather than risk it,” she added. “Also, cross-border trade and cabotage are not covered by ECMTs, so this needs to be considered – make sure you apply, as supply is limited.”

You can find out how to apply here.

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