Rules for international transport and drivers

Published by:
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Do you work as a driver and transport goods internationally? Or do you have an international transport business? Then you must follow the rules in the European Mobility Package. For example, about driving and rest times for drivers, secondment, and determining the location of a vehicle with a smart tachograph. Read more about the changes.

What is the European Mobility Package?

The European Mobility Package contains rules for the international transport of goods and passengers. Some rules replace existing ones. The package also contains new rules for drivers and transport businesses. The rules come into effect on different dates.

Why is there a European Mobility Package?

With the mobility package, the European Union wants to contribute to:

  • improving the working conditions and employment terms of lorry drivers
  • creating a level playing field, with clear rules for businesses that provide cross-border services
  • more effective and efficient enforcement
  • improving road safety

New rules for international transport

The rules are changing or have changed in 6 key areas.

Since August 2020, these rules apply to weekly rest periods and rest facilities:

  • For their weekly rest periods, drivers may use suitable accommodation at the employer’s expense.
  • Drivers may return home at least once every 4 weeks.

It is sometimes unclear if drivers are posted in a country or not. Drivers who are posted are entitled to the minimum wage, collective labour agreements and certain employment conditions of the EU country where they are working.

The European mobility package states that drivers working in another country must obtain a posting certificate. This came into force on 2 February 2022.

Since 2 February 2022, lorry drivers must register any border crossing in the tachograph. A country code is used for this.

Newly registered lorries must have a type 2 smart tachograph (SMT2). A smart tachograph automatically tracks the location of the vehicle and registers border crossings. Check which tachograph is compulsory for your vehicle and until when you can still use an analogue or 1st generation tachograph.

The EU wants to discourage letterbox companies. A letterbox company is one that only has a postal address in a specific country and no staff or office. The business and staff are situated in another country. A business may choose to do this because of financial advantages.

The EU wants to make the market for international goods transport fairer by discouraging letterbox companies. Since 21 February 2022, there are new rules on how and where a transport business is based. For example:

The European mobility package contains new rules on cabotage. Cabotage means that a transport company transports goods between 2 points within another EU country. For example, a Spanish transport business transports products between 2 cities in the Netherlands. Lorries are allowed to make a maximum of 3 cabotage trips in 7 days. Afterwards, they must leave the country again.

A new rule came into effect on 21 February 2022. After the last cabotage trip, a lorry is not allowed to do any more cabotage trips for 4 days in that EU country. This is called the 'cooling-off period'.

Combined transport

For pre- and post-carriage within 1 country, cabotage rules also apply. However, a country may choose to make the periods shorter or longer.

Since 21 May 2022, lorries that weigh over 2.5 tonnes making international journeys need a Euro licence. This previously only applied to lorries weighing more than 3.5 tonnes.

As of 31 December 2024, drivers must be able to show an inspector the driving and rest times for the past 56 days. This is currently 28 days.

What is the timeline for the European Mobility Package?

The new rules for the European Mobility Package do not come into force at the same time. Check the timeline below:

Rules in other EU countries

The rules of the European Mobility Package apply to all EU countries. However, countries are allowed to determine some rules themselves. For example, the cabotage rules for combined transport. Also, the rules that are incorporated into national laws do not come into force on the same date everywhere.