Use our handy guide to keep up-to-date and find out more about recent legislation and government guidance relating to the UK's commercial road transport industry. 

Clean Air Zones

The UK government has a long-term strategy to improve air quality across the country by discouraging the use of older, more polluting vehicles. In addition, its short-term goal is to reduce the number of areas where air pollution breaches legal limits.

As a result, central government tasked local authorities with improving air quality in their areas. Five cities were mandated to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) - Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton. The Government also named 23 other local authorities where it expected pollution levels to soon reach illegal levels.

Many local authorities have conducted feasibility studies and are going through the consultation process. Some had plans to introduce CAZs in 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic meant that some of these plans have been delayed.

In October 2020, a joint review by Leeds City Council and central government concluded that the planned CAZ for the city was no longer required.

Both Nottingham and Leicester have also cancelled their plans to introduce CAZs.

In Derby, the City Council is to deploy traffic management measures rather than a CAZ as its way of dealing with air quality issues.

In Southampton, central government approved the implementation of a Local NO2 Plan instead of the introduction of a charging CAZ.

Some local authorities have delayed the implementation of their CAZs in order to allow time for more financial support to be provided to help residents and businesses upgrade their vehicles

The Scottish Government has mandated that Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow should introduce Low Emission Zones (LEZs). All these zones are already in place, but grace periods exist before charging starts (see below).

In summary:

The rules for each CAZ vary but commercial vehicles that don't meet Euro 6 emissions standards will be charged to operate in a CAZ.

Protect your business against thousands of pounds going up in smoke! Contact your nearest branch today to discuss how you can avoid CAZ charges.

Further details about CAZs and their introduction are available from the UK Government website and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Road Freight and Logistics published a report on CAZs in November 2020.

HGV levy

The HGV levy (which aims to ensure that vehicles contribute when using the road network) made its return on 1 August 2023, following its suspension during the COVID-19 crisis, and the subsequent extension of the policy.

The levy applies to HGVs over 12,000kg. For vehicles registered in the UK, it must be paid alongside vehicle excise duty, in the same transaction. Rates are calculated automatically by DVLA. The calculations take into account a vehicle’s weight as a means of broadly approximating its CO2 emissions, as well as its Euro emissions class. Euro 6 vehicles pay significantly less than Euro 5 trucks or older.

Review of the Traffic Commissioner function

The Government has undertaken a review of the UK’s Traffic Commissioners. The aim of the review was to provide a robust assessment of the role, health and effectiveness of the Traffic Commissioner function. In April, 2023, the Government produced its recommendations.

Longer semi-trailers

Following an extensive trial, a public consultation and regulatory changes, longer semi-trailers (LSTs), which are longer than standard trailers by up to 2.05m, are being brought into general use as of May 2023. The Government has produced a guide aimed at current and potential operators of these new trailers, to help them get the most out of them, as well as ensuring that they are operated safely.

Laden annual truck and trailer tests

Most goods vehicles and trailers will have to be appropriately laden for their annual test from 1 January 2023. Vehicles will have to be correctly laden for their roller brake test and part of the annual test as of the new year is that operators will lose the test fee for any vehicle that fails and they'll have to represent the vehicle for a test.

Aerodynamic features and longer cabs on HGVs

As of 14 February 2022, new legislation means that HGV operators can now use aerodynamic features and longer cabs to reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, enhance driver vision and improve welfare and comfort.

Withdrawal of the red diesel duty rebate

Following the 2020 Budget announcement, the government has removed the entitlement to use rebated red diesel and biodiesel from most sectors.

As of 12.00 am on 1 April, you must not put red diesel in transport refrigeration units (TRUs) and it will be an offence to operate them on red diesel after your current stocks run out.

Vehicles, vessels, machines or appliances found running on rebated fuel that HMRC establishes was put into the tank after 1 April 2022, will be liable to be seized unless a licence has been granted and the duty paid. More details here and here.

Changes to the Highway Code

Following consultation during 2020, the changes to the Highway Code that took effect on January 29 affect HGV drivers. The new rules include a new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ that prioritises vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians. Those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm will bear the greatest responsibility.

Pre-notifying imports

From 1 January 2022, there are new requirements for importing some goods, such as meat or plants, into Great Britain from the EU.

Pre-notification that consignments will be entering the country will be required when importing most of the following:

  • Products of animal origin.
  • Animal by-products.
  • High-risk food not of animal origin.
  • Regulated plants and plant products.


Register on the relevant IT systems:

Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS)

From 1 January 2022, hauliers must be registered for the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) to move any goods between GB and the EU. The GVMS system has been designed to enable fast and efficient movement of goods and will be used by many UK ports.

Get registered. If you're not, you will not be able to board the ferry or shuttle and cross the GB/EU border.

Ports that use GVMS to control goods will need pre-lodged declaration references to be linked together within a single reference number, called a Goods Movement Reference (GMR). The driver will need to present a valid GMR to the carrier for check-in. The driver moving the goods should create the GMR, but it can also be done by the haulier manager, or the trader’s customs agent or freight forwarder.

Rules of Origin

From 1 January 2022, anyone who sells goods to the EU, or buys goods from the EU and brings them into the UK, will need to be able to prove that they meet the Rules of Origin in order to benefit from preferential tariffs and the zero-tariff trade agreement with the EU.

There must be proof that:

  • Goods imported into the UK from the EU originate there.
  • Goods exported to the EU originate in the UK.

If proof of origin cannot be given, the goods will be liable for the full rate of customs duty and there could be penalties.

Prepare for the changes to the Rules of Origin.

New customs declaration requirements

From 1 January 2022, businesses moving goods from the EU to Great Britain must complete customs declarations at the time they or their courier/freight forwarder brings the goods into the country.

They will no longer be able to delay making import customs declarations (previously allowed up to a maximum of 175 days from when the goods arrived in the country) and full declarations must be made at the time of importing.

Visit the UK government website for a step-by-step guide, which provides information on how to bring goods into the UK from any country, including how much tax and duty will need to be paid and whether a licence or certificate is needed.

Transport decarbonisation plan

14 July 2021. The UK government published its Transport decarbonisation plan – what it describes as a plan for cleaner air, healthier communities and tens of thousands of new green jobs, and the world’s first ‘greenprint’ to decarbonise all modes of domestic transport by 2050.

The Department for Transport has produced a video promoting the plan, which includes consultation on banning the sale of new non-zero emission HGVs up to and including 26 tonnes by 2035 and the sale of all new non-zero emission HGVs by 2040.

The consultation closed on 3 September.

The Road to Zero

In 2018, the government unveiled its Road to Zero strategy for transitioning to cleaner road transport - one of the most comprehensive packages of support for a move to zero-emission vehicles in the world.

HGV driving test overhaul

On 10 August 2021, the DVSA launched a consultation survey on proposals to overhaul HGV driver testing and speed up licence testing capacity, in an effort to encourage new drivers into the profession and ease the nationwide driver shortage. The consultation closed on Tuesday 7 September.

Since the consultation closed, the government has announced that HGV driving tests will be overhauled.

Direct Vision Standard (DVS)

In London, HGVs are disproportionately involved in fatalities with pedestrians and cyclists. The DVS scheme is designed to help improve road safety in the city, particularly HGV driver visibility of vulnerable road users.

The scheme was announced by the Mayor of London and Transport for London  (TfL) in October 2019 and came into force on 1st March 2021 when an enforcement zone was introduced into Greater London.

DVS uses star ratings, ranging from 0 to 5 and based on the HGV driver’s direct view out of their cab’s front and side windows. All vehicles over 12 tonnes GVW either entering or operating in the zone are affected and need to be either at least 1-star rated or comply with the scheme’s Safe System and have a Safety Permit in place.

Find out more by visiting the TfL website and download the DVS guide put together by our friends at Motormax.

COVID-19 tests for hauliers entering England from outside the UK

From 6 April 2021, hauliers entering England from outside the UK will need to take a COVID-19 test within 48 hours of arrival. Free tests will be available at over 40 government advice sites and anyone failing to comply will face a £2,000 fine. 

Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) consultation

As part of its push to reduce carbon, the government launched a consultation on proposals to amend the RTFO to increase the percentage of renewable fuels used in road transport. The consultation closed on 23 April, 2021.

Zero emission vehicles and road pricing

The House of Commons Transport Select Committee conducted a public consultation on zero emission vehicles and road pricing. It included consultation on a date for phasing out the sale of new diesel HGVs. The deadline for submitting evidence was Wednesday 17 February.

Longer semi-trailers

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, gave the go-ahead for the widespread use of longer semi-trailers (LSTs) on Britain’s roads in February 2021. This was after a trial of LSTs (which started in 2012 and was paused in December 2020) and an industry consultation that ran until 1st February 2021 to gather views on whether the trial should be ended.

Check before crossing the border

From 20 April 2021, HGV drivers moving between GB and the EU no longer need a Kent Access Permit (KAP) to enter Kent. The government introduced KAPs last December in the runup to the end of the Brexit transition period in order to prevent queues building up at the Channel ports.

However, drivers still need to:

Moving goods between GB and Northern Ireland

Following the end of the UK's EU transition period, the Northern Ireland Protocol came into effect, resulting in changes to the way goods are moved between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

See the latest information, including a government guide that highlights five key things you can do now. It also provides additional guidance and support.

In addition, the free-to-use Trader Support Service is available to help businesses of all kinds and sizes navigate the new rules. It:

  • Provides a free end-to-end support package to manage import and safety and security declarations on behalf of traders.
  • Educates businesses on what the Northern Ireland Protocol means for them, and the steps they need to take to comply with it. This includes online training sessions and webinars.
  • Helps to complete relevant declaration forms for all businesses moving goods into Northern Ireland under new processes in the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Government guidance on moving goods between GB and the EU

The Department for Transport has published its guidance for hauliers and commercial drivers who move goods between Great Britain and the EU.

The guidance (which is also summarised in a four-page leaflet) tells drivers and operators what they need to do following the end of the UK's EU transition period.

Government Brexit advice centres

In the run-up to the end of the UK's EU transition period, the Department for Transport set up 45 centres at motorway service stations and truck stops across the UK where in-person advice is available for hauliers and commercial drivers who move goods between Great Britain and the EU. A list and map of the sites are available on the government's website.

Ban on tyres 10 years older or over

After research commissioned by the Department for Transport and public consultation, the government has made it illegal to fit tyres 10 years old or over to the front wheels of HGVs, buses and coaches plus on all axles of minibuses when fitted in a single configuration.

The move also applies to re-treaded tyres and has been made to improve road safety.

The ban came into force in England, Scotland and Wales as of 1 February 2021 and in Summer 2023 in Northern Ireland.

New rules on drivers' hours

New EU rules on drivers' hours for goods vehicles include changes relating to the international carriage of goods.Operators must now organise work so that, within each period of four consecutive weeks, drivers can return to either their normal base or their home.

Also, weekly rest requirements are more flexible when a driver accompanies a vehicle that is being transported by ferry or train.

See the government's summary of the rules on drivers’ hours.

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