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Rules governing access to the profession

As of 4 December 2011, admission to the occupation of road haulage operator and road passenger transport operator in the European Union is governed by Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009 . This regulation replaces Directive 96/26/EC as amended by Directive 98/76/EC .

These rules cover road hauliers using vehicles of over 3.5 tonnes (the maximum authorised mass) and commercial transport undertakings operating vehicles with seats for 9 passengers, including the driver, or more.

According to the regulation, operators must fulfill four criteria  to access the profession:

  • Good repute  criterion, which shall ensure adequate entrepreneurial ethical conduct. Manipulating a tachograph, for example, would be considered a serious infringement leading to the loss of a good reputation.
  • Financial standing, which requires operators to have capital assets available every annual accounting year of at least € 9000 for the first vehicle and € 5000 for each additional vehicle.
  • Professional competence, which requires practical knowledge and the aptitude of professionals in the sector by means of an obligatory exam with common arrangements, marking and certificates.
  • To have an effective  and stable establishment  in a Member State.

A transport manager who is responsible for respecting the road transport legislation in force must be designated by each road transport operator.

National authorities have to carry out regular checks to ensure that undertakings continue to satisfy these four criteria. In order to facilitate the monitoring of road transport undertakings, Member States have to set up national electronic registers which are interconnected (ERRU ) to facilitate the cooperation and exchange of information at European level.

The purpose of these rules is:

  • to achieve greater harmonisation of standards between Member States, particularly as regards levels of financial standing required and the standard of professional competence expected;
  • to facilitate the right of establishment in other Member States and the mutual recognition of professional status;
  • to improve the overall professional standing and quality of road transport;
  • to prevent unscrupulous firms from seeking to gain market advantages by skimping on safety and working conditions.