How to Best Manage Transport Operations

Happy New Year, and welcome to the first TRU Newsletter of 2022. A regular feature within this newsletter is advice for existing licence holders to best manage transport operations, to engage with the Department, and avoid a scenario that puts their licence, and in turn their business, in jeopardy. In truth this information is readily available to you on your Goods Vehicle Operator’s Licence.

When did you last read your licence? Your licence confirms the maximum number of vehicles and trailers you are authorised to use, it lets you know the place at which they must normally be parked, and it will provide any specific undertakings you, as an individual licence holder, have agreed to.

In addition, your licence lists the general conditions and undertakings attached to all licences. 

Failure to adhere to these conditions and undertakings could adversely impact road safety, or compromise fair completion. This could in turn result in the Department taking steps to revoke your licence and withdraw your authority to legally carry goods. 

If you consider the impact of that on you, your family and your employees – perhaps it’s worth taking 10 minutes every once in awhile to read your licence and remind yourself of the basics. Further guidance on goods vehicle operator licensing can be found within the Department’s published Practice Guidance documents. 

Most Serious Infringements

What is a MSI (Most Serious Infringements)? An MSI is at the top of the categorisation scale of infringements with regard to seriousness. One MSI could result in the loss of your good repute as an operator. Losing your good repute as a standard operator’s licence holder may result in revocation of your licence. MSIs have a similar impact on a restricted licence holders as it affects their fitness to hold a licence.

How is an MSI defined?
Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009 defines an MSI into the following categories:

1. (a) Exceeding the maximum 6-day or fortnightly driving time limits by margins of 25 % or more; (b) Exceeding, during a daily working period, the maximum daily driving time limit by a margin of 50 % or more without taking a break or without an uninterrupted rest period of at least 4,5 hours.

2. Not having a tachograph and/or speed limiter or using a fraudulent device able to modify the records of the recording equipment and/or the speed limiter or falsifying record sheets or data downloaded from the tachograph and/or the driver card.

3. Driving without a valid roadworthiness certificate if such a document is required under Community law and/or driving with a very serious deficiency of, inter alia, the braking system, the steering linkages, the wheels/tyres, the suspension or chassis that would create such an immediate risk to road safety that it leads to a decision to immobilise the vehicle.

4. Transporting dangerous goods that are prohibited for transport or transporting such goods in a prohibited or non-approved means of containment or without identifying them on the vehicle as dangerous goods, thus endangering lives or the environment to such extent that it leads to a decision to immobilise the vehicle.

5. Carrying passengers or goods without holding a valid driving licence or carrying by an undertaking not holding a valid Community licence.

6. Driving with a driver card that has been falsified, or with a card of which the driver is not the holder, or which has been obtained on the basis of false declarations and/or forged documents.

7. Carrying goods exceeding the maximum permissible laden mass by 20 % or more for vehicles the permissible laden weight of which exceeds 12 tonnes, and by 25 % or more for vehicles the permissible laden weight of which does not exceed 12 tonnes.

What happens if a MSI is detected?
Many operators don’t realise that many of these infringements are issued as immediate prohibitions by DVA, DVSA or police and it’s when the prohibition is issued as “immediate” that it becomes an MSI. 

You should be aware that when you are issued with an immediate prohibition on any of these categories, that it becomes an MSI and therefore an event that affects your good repute. You must report that to the Department within 28 days, similarly to other convictions and penalties. The Department will then carry out an administrative procedure to determine whether, due to specific circumstances the loss of good repute would constitute a disproportionate response in the individual case.

Adverts for applications

The newspaper advert is a key requirement of new applications and major variations to existing licences. Adverts not meeting any one of the requirements often leads to refusal of an application. The impact is largely a financial one because of the need to reapply. It is therefore important that the wording and timing meet the legislative requirements and the selected newspaper(s) is an acceptable publication. 

The advert must be published no more than 21 days before or after your application is received in the Northern Ireland Central Licensing Office (NICLO). If it is, the application will be ruled ‘out of time’ and you will need to re-advertise or reapply. (For example, an application received on 1 November by NICLO must be advertised between 11 October and 22 November). An application is considered received when the fee has been paid and you have submitted the online application. This is a legislative requirement and the Department has no discretion to accept adverts published too late or too early, even if the rest of the advert requirements have been met.

The wording of the newspaper advert needs to be clear and to follow exactly the wording in the template that is available during the online application process. The applicable template (new or variation) can also be requested from NICLO. Use only the template provided by the Department. Do not rely on advert templates found online or provided to you by other organisations such as transport consultants or your chosen newspaper. 

Ensure the newspaper has correctly printed your advert by checking the wording meets the requirements before sending it to NICLO as any errors or omissions, particularly to the mandatory wording, will likely lead to refusal of the advert, and subsequent refusal of the application if there is no time to readvertise within the 21-day requirement.

Common errors to avoid include:

• use the NI version of the new or variation advert template as appropriate, not the GB version which refers to the traffic commissioners

• include the heading ‘GOODS VEHICLE OPERATOR’S LICENCE’

• include the full name of the applicant/licence holder, not just a trading name. If it is a partnership, include all partners’ first and last names (not initials); and for companies, the full name of the company (not the director(s)) including ‘Ltd’

• include the full correspondence and operating centre address(es) given in the application, even if they are the same, and include the full and correct postcode(s)

• state clearly how many vehicles and trailers you wish to park at the advertised operating centre(s) and that they match the numbers given in your application

• if it is a variation to an existing licence, also state the overall number of vehicles and trailers that will be parked at the operating centre(s) should the application be granted

• include all the mandatory wording set out at the end of the advert template, including reference to the Department’s website, and make sure the NICLO address, including the postcode, is printed correctly

Newspaper publication

Annex 1 of the Department’s ‘practice guidance document 1’ provides details of acceptable newspapers for adverts. If you advertise in a newspaper that does not circulate within the vicinity of the operating centre, the application will likely be refused unless you can prove the newspaper is available locally, and your advert meets the other requirements. The advert must be big enough to be easily read.

You should upload the whole page of the original newspaper showing your advert, name of the newspaper and date of publication, to your online application in the ‘operating centres and authorisation’ section. This will allow the Department to check that you have advertised your application correctly. See also the Department’s ‘Guide for goods vehicle operators’ for further details about the licensing and application requirements. 

New Customs Rules

The Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain have been asked by HMRC to draw your attention to help and advice to support you with the introduction of the new customs rules on 1 Jan 2022; make sure you’re prepared for the new requirements.

From 1 January 2022, anyone moving goods between Great Britain (GB) and the European Union (EU) through a Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) border location must be registered to use this service.

Current arrangements will continue to apply to goods moving from the island of Ireland to GB, while discussions on the Northern Ireland Protocol are continuing.

HMRC are aware of some common issues occurring when customers are creating Goods Movement References (GMRs) into GVMS, which are causing them delays at the border. 

To help avoid these issues you must:

• Get a GMR for all movements, including empties.

• Ensure you’re entering the correct type of declaration reference for your movement. Entry Reference Number (ERN) for imports via CHIEF or Movement Reference Number (MRN) for imports via the Customs Declaration Service (CDS). Declaration Unique Consignment Reference (DUCR) for exports via CHIEF or CDS. Check which references should be entered in a GMR on GOV.UK – Get a goods movement reference.

• Not use the trailer references when entering your Vehicle Registration Number (VRN) into the GMR for an accompanied movement, as this means the carrier will be unable to validate your GMR. The VRN must match the vehicle presenting the GMR.

• Not add EU export Movement Reference Numbers (MRN) into the GMR.

If you do not fulfil these requirements, your GMR will be invalid, and you will not be allowed to board the vessel.

The person making the customs declarations for the goods you’re moving should:

• Use the dual location code for all exports declarations from GB to EU, when the goods will be moved through the border locations of Dover and Eurotunnel. This gives you flexibility on your route. Check the location codes for roll on roll off border locations for use in CDS or CHIEF.

• Ensure that ‘RRS01’ is entered in the customs declaration in box 44 for CHIEF or Data Element 2/2 for the CDS, if you will be moving the goods through a GVMS border location. If this is not done, GVMS will not be able to validate it on the submitted GMR. For more details, please refer to the recently published Customs Information Paper.

• Check the status of declarations once the goods have arrived in GB, as you may need to take further action to release the goods from customs if they are held.

You should use your GMR in the check if you need to report for an inspection service to understand if your goods are held. If you’re arriving into the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel, you’ll need to attend an inland border facility to have these checks carried out. 

For all other GVMS border locations, you must go to the inspection facility within or near the port if your goods are held. Register for GVMS and find out how to move goods through border locations that use the service. 

Need extra support? 

If you have a specific question about importing or exporting, call HMRC’s Customs and International Trade helpline on 0300 322 9434. The helpline is open from 8am to 10pm Monday to Friday and from 8am to 4pm at weekends.