Road hauliers in the EU must have one or more licences. In the Netherlands, you apply for licences from the National and International Road Transport Organisation (Nationale en Internationale Wegvervoer Organisatie, NIWO). The licences you require depend on the destination of the cargo (in Dutch) you transport.
Having your own transport (in Dutch) means you transport freight for your own company. You do not need a permit to do so. You must, however, be able to demonstrate that you are transporting your own goods. In countries outside the EU, you sometimes need a journey permit (ritmachtiging).
A transport company must meet the European requirements on establishment. This means that as an entrepreneur in road transport operations, you must have:
- qualified administrative staff
- sufficient office space
- technical facilities
Transport within the EU
A Euro licence is compulsory for:
- commercial goods transport in the Netherlands for freight vehicles with a load-bearing capacity exceeding 500 kg.
- cross-border commercial goods transport within the EU involving freight vehicles with a maximum permitted weight exceeding 2,500 kg.
Transport outside the EU
In most cases, transport outside the EU also requires a journey permit or an CEMT licence (ECMT licence) in addition to a Euro licence. With an CEMT licence, you can transport goods from, to and via countries that are party to the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (CEMT) agreement, provided you meet the CEMT’s emission and safety requirements.
Dutch companies can submit their application digitally with NIWO (in Dutch) using eHerkenning. Foreign companies can apply for an account with NIWO (in Dutch). For the current rates check NIWOs website.
If you hire non-EU lorry drivers, they are only allowed to drive your lorries if they have a driver's attestation issued by the Dutch National and International Road Transport Organisation (NIWO). To be able to apply for the attestation (in Dutch), they need a valid work permit and a driver's certificate of professional competence.
If a transport company from an EU member state transports goods between 2 points within the borders of another Member State, this will constitute cabotage. Carriers may undertake no more than 3 cabotage trips in another country. After that, they have to cross the border again. When the last permitted cabotage operation has been finished, the truck is not allowed to be used for cabotage for 4 days in that country. The truck must return to the transport company’s home country every 8 weeks. In the Netherlands, the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport, ILT) enforces this rule.
Truck drivers must register their border crossings in the tachograph. They must record the country code of the country they enter at the border or at the first possible stop. If the truck is fitted with a smart tachograph type 2 this requirement is void, as the border crossing will then be registered automatically.
Dispensation abnormal load
In the Netherlands, an 'abnormal load' is a vehicle that is heavier and larger than normally allowed by law. If you are responsible for transporting an abnormal load, you must apply for dispensation to the Netherlands Vehicle Authority (RDW, in Dutch), of which there are 3 types. The General Terms and Conditions for Exceptional Transport (Algemene Voorwaarden voor Exceptioneel Transport, see pdf) are often applied to abnormal loads in the Netherlands. These terms and conditions stipulate obligations and liabilities for both the carrier and the consignor.
ATP and VWA certificate for refrigerator trucks
If you plan to import or export perishable goods using an insulated refrigerated vehicle, an ATP test and/or a VWA test carried out by RDW is compulsory. Following this inspection an ATP (Accord Transport Perishables) certificate (in Dutch) and/or VWA is issued.
There are two types of refrigerator trucks:
- ATP refrigerator trucks, a vehicle with a temperature controlled cargo, used for international transport of perishable goods.
- VWA refrigerator trucks, a vehicle with a temperature controlled cargo, used for national transport of not fully chilled pork, beef and veal.
You apply for an ATP or a VWA licence (in Dutch) to the Netherlands Vehicle Authority (RDW).