Top 5 changes to be aware of in 2021:

Customs tariff numbers, professional driver qualification, bans on driving at night, truck tolls and truck scrapping premium

The coronavirus pandemic and Brexit negotiations were the biggest issues affecting the transport of goods by road in 2020. However, looking beyond the developments in these areas, there was also a large amount of activity in politics and administration. In this overview, we aim to make you aware of five relevant changes that will be important from 2021.

All about the numbers

I. Changes to customs tariff numbers and two new country codes

Quick customs clearance of goods requires you to properly prepare the required documents. Therefore, it is important to familiarise yourself with the changes to customs tariff numbers that the European Commission has defined for 2021. These changes entered into force on 1 January. You can see them in a file prepared by the Statistisches Bundesamt (German Federal Statistical Office). Looking at the extent of the changes, it is clear that the coronavirus crisis has also had an effect here. The vaccine for the virus is one of the affected goods for import and export. Furthermore, face masks and ventilators have been more clearly defined.

The Brexit deal has now been finalised and is also having an effect on the documentation required for foreign trade. To simplify dealings between the Republic of Ireland, which remains in the EU and therefore in the single market, and Northern Ireland, which as part of the United Kingdom has left the EU, there is a specific country code: XI.

The solution set out in the Northern Ireland Protocol has been chosen so that the transportation of goods from the EU to Northern Ireland can still be treated like deliveries within the single market. The rest of the United Kingdom will continue using the code “GB”.

Introduction of photocards for truck drivers

II. New proof of qualifications for professional drivers

Last December, the Berufskraftfahrerqualifikationsgesetz (German Professional Drivers’ Qualification Act) came into force in Germany. It was followed shortly by the Berufskraftfahrerqualifikationsverordnung (German Professional Drivers’ Qualification Regulation). This initiative also aims to provide clear proof of the qualification of truck drivers. Before, this was simply recorded using the code number 95 on the driving licence, which always led to difficulties at border controls, in particular for cross-border drivers in the haulage business. Therefore, the new driving licence will now be issued as a photocard. The driver must take it with them on all journeys.

But there is no need to worry – existing driving licences will remain valid. Any driving licence does not have to be exchanged for one in the new format until it expires. The issuing authorities have also some time to adjust. The new documents only have to be issued from 23 May 2021, which marks the end of the transition period.

Regional bans on driving at night

III. Trucks in the Euro 6 class are no longer permitted on the Inntalautobahn (Inn Valley Motorway) at night.

As from the start of 2021, the regional government of the state of Tyrol in Austria has banned transit journeys on a section of the A12 (also known as the Inntalautobahn) for trucks weighing 7.5 tonnes and over in the Euro 6 emission class. Destinations along this route will remain accessible. The A13, known as the Brennerautobahn (Brenner Motorway), must no longer be used to transport goods onwards from this section at the times listed below.

Time of the ban between Kufstein (at the German border) and Zirl (near Innsbruck):
• From 1 May to 31 October: 22:00 to 05:00 on working days
• From 1 May to 31 October: 23:00 to 5:00 on Sundays and bank holidays
• From 1 November to 30 April: from 20:00 on weekdays

Increased tariffs for trucks in Europe

IV. Some countries/regions are increasing tolls on trucks

Changes to tolls at the start of a new year are nothing new. Nonetheless, it is worthwhile for all companies involved to keep up to date with the situation on an ongoing basis.

For trucks from 3.5 tonnes and up which have four or more axles, an increase in costs of an average of 1.4 to 2 per cent must be expected in Austria from 1 January 2021. Compared to the Czech Republic, this seems almost modest. There, the charges for traffic-related noise pollution and environmental pollution will increase by over 30 per cent for this class of vehicle. The Walloon Region in Belgium has followed closely behind the steps made by the Flemish Region and the Brussels-Capital Region last summer in terms of fees for 3.5-tonne trucks. This means that the tariffs will increase by 0.001 euro per kilometre for trucks in Euro classes 3, 4, 5 and 6 on the roads of the Walloon Region.

New truck scrapping premium

V Subsidy programme for the renewal of the commercial vehicle fleet

With immediate effect, the German government will pay up to 15,000 euros for the purchase of brand-new trucks with diesel, LNG or CNG engines that meet the requirements of emission level Euro 6 – if an old truck of emission level Euro 0 to 5 is scrapped at the same time. In addition, a grant of up to 5,000 euros is awarded for the acquisition of intelligent trailer technology (e.g. technologies for tyre pressure measurement or digital control for semi-trailers and trailers or aerodynamic add-on parts).
The application period in the funding programme Renewal of the Commercial Vehicle Fleet (ENF 2021) begins on 26 January 2021 and ends on 15 April 2021. Further information is available on the website of the Federal Office for Goods Transport.


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