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The coronavirus pandemic has forced European Union countries to apply a number of derogations for road freight transport. These include, among other things, the renewal of the licences of professional drivers who currently cannot undergo any training.

Although EU member states are trying to facilitate the movement of goods in Europe, their actions are not coordinated, which raises certain problems and many questions. This involves a variety of issues, such as relaxing truck bans and working and rest time rules for drivers, which are different in virtually every country. The same is true for the renewal of truck driving licences. That is why we have decided to gather information for you from those EU countries that have introduced this solution.

Germany

Germany introduced a similar facility for drivers in March this year to ensure continuity of the supply chain in times of pandemic. The Federal Office for Goods Transport (BAG) has refrained from sanctioning the lack of driver’s qualifications confirmed by code 95. Due to the pandemic, drivers are unable to undergo training and renew their licences, hence the departure proposed by the German authorities. As BAG informed the Trans.INFO editorial team, the derogation applies to both German and foreign truck drivers. 

As regards to the expiry of the limited driving licence in classes C and D, the federal states in Germany agreed to a parallel procedure. 

However, BAG stresses that obtaining a provisional entry of code 95 or a provisional renewal of a driving licence, as well as the non-enforcement of penalties for infringements in this respect, does not exempt drivers from the fundamental obligation to comply with the requirements when the pandemic is over.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands has also introduced exceptions for documents in transport. “All licences, code 95, ADR or other necessary documents which could not be renewed because of COVID-19 are valid until 1 June 2020 (unless this exception is revoked earlier). This applies to all drivers, both domestic and foreign” – this is what Transport en Logistiek Nederland association of carriers told trans.iNFO.

Spain

Spain, as one of the countries most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, has also extended the validity of certain documents.

All licences, permits and driving licences that expire during the state of emergency will be automatically renewed for up to 70 days after its termination. The validity of temporary permits is extended for up to 60 days after the end of the state of emergency,” we learned from the Spanish federation of transport associations Fenadismer.

Poland

In Poland, the validity of the driver’s licence (also foreign ones), driver’s certificate, and driving licences has been extended due to the coronavirus pandemic with the entry into force of the amendment to the regulations related to the prevention and combating of COVID-19, i.e. on 18 April. 

The solution applies, among others, to the entry in the driving licence of the code 95 confirming obtaining:

– preliminary qualification,

– fast-track preliminary qualification,

– supplementary preliminary qualification,

– fast-track supplementary preliminary qualification,

– completion of periodic training.

Documents which expired during the state of epidemiological threat or the state of epidemic may still be used. Once the end of any of the above states is announced, the owner of the document will have 60 days to undergo the necessary examinations and training and extend the validity of the documents.

Moreover, due to the pandemic, the following were also suspended:

  • periodic training in road transport,
  • obligations to undergo periodic medical and psychological examinations for persons applying for a driver’s job.

Also in this case, once the declared state of epidemic or the state of epidemiological threat has ceased to exist, these examinations will have to be completed within 60 days.

Brussels wants uniformed rules

The multitude and diversity of derogations applied in EU countries due to the pandemic may pose problems when travelling across Europe. To this end, the European Commission has recently presented a draft Regulation which provides for the introduction of the same measures for road freight transport throughout the Community. 

The draft comprises, among others:

Extension of the time limits provided for in Directive 2003/59/EC

  1. The time limits for completion of the periodic training which, in accordance with the provisions thereof, expired between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2020 shall be deemed to have been extended by six months. Certificates of professional competence remain valid accordingly.
  2. The validity of the marking of harmonised EU code 95 made out by the competent authorities on either a driving licence or a driver qualification card on the basis of certificates of professional competence shall be deemed to have been renewed for six months from the date indicated on each such driving licence or card.
  3. The validity of driver qualification cards which expire between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2020 shall be extended for six months from the administrative date of validity indicated on each such card.

Extension of the time limits provided for in Directive 2006/126/EC

The validity of a driving licence which, in accordance with those provisions, expires between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2020 shall be deemed to have been renewed for six months from the date indicated on such licence.

Photo: Twitter.com/bpol_by

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