Trailer registration scheme in force soon

Posted 25/10/2018 : By: Tim Ridyard

What is this? Trailer registration? For all operators?

New arrangements will be coming into force for the registration of some trailers used commercially over 750kgs (maximum permitted laden weight). Will this affect you and if so what do you need to do?

The answer is: it depends.

If you are going to use trailers for commercial international journeys (except Ireland and a limited number of other countries) you are affected and will have to register any trailer through DVLA to carry out such operations from 28 March 2019.

More detailed information will be announced later this year and further regulations will be introduced. It will involve digital trailer registration procedures and documentation, the need to display a trailer registration plate that will be in addition to the registration plate of any vehicle towing it and fees for registration, documents and trailer inspections. New offences will be created though the Government's intention is that the fixed penalty scheme be applied where breaches occur.

The Government has announced the registration process will commence in January 2019.

The scheme will also apply to non-commercial trailers over 3,500 kgs used internationally of which there are relatively few.

Given that the UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, unless there is some delay or deferment, operators will need to have sufficient time to deal with registration to be ready for that date for international trailer operations. So, this scheme has to be swiftly brought into operation over the next few months.

If you only move trailers in domestic operations then you are not affected and will not need to take part in the registration scheme.

Background

So, why is this being introduced?

It has occurred in the aftermath of the UK's decision to leave the EU. One result of this is the need to create the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act 2018. This provides the framework for regulations for a haulage permit scheme for international operations which may or may not be needed depending on the outcome of negotiations between the EU and the UK. But, it also provides for this trailer registration scheme. NB: the trailer scheme will be implemented regardless of the outcome of the EU/UK negotiations.

International traffic movements are governed by provisions contained in the 1968 Vienna Convention together with the 1949 Geneva Convention. Whilst the UK already complies with most of the 1968 Convention (via the Highway Code) use of foreign roads is guaranteed only for vehicles and trailers that are registered.

The UK had not until this year formally ratified the 1968 Vienna Convention that will take effect from 29 March 2019. From that date registered trailers should not be at risk from enforcement action when used in international travel (whether being hauled or if unaccompanied and hence being pulled by foreign vehicles.) If they are unregistered, however, they may be subject to such action.

One part of the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act 2018 introduces a scheme so that UK trailer operators can comply with the 1968 Vienna Convention's trailer registration requirements. This will cover all commercial trailers moving to / through EU Member States that have ratified the Convention (apart from Ireland, Spain, Malta and Cyprus).

To confirm: the above regime does NOT apply to trailers operating only within the UK or in respect of countries not having ratified the 1968 Vienna Convention e.g. Ireland.

We will provide further information about the trailer registration scheme when this becomes available.

We have also published a further blog to explain the arrangements for international haulage permits from 29 March 2019. Those are currently much less certain since it is not known whether they will be required or whether alternatives will be agreed e.g. mutual recognition of international operator licences. Read this article here.

NB: this blog does not constitute formal legal advice. Further, there is every possibility that there may be changes, possibly significant ones, given the current uncertainty surrounding the UK EU-exit process.

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