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Hungary introduces idle time charge and minimum service rates in T&L

Minimum service rates in the logistics sector, minimising the number of subcontractors for a given transport or logistics activity and introducing of “idle time” fee for loading - these are the main changes the Hungarian government is introducing for companies registered in Hungary in the road haulage sector from 28 January.

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The Hungarian government has begun a major overhaul of the country’s road haulage sector, with a comprehensive set of regulations due to come into force on 28 January 2024. The new rules, outlined in Government Decree 686/2023, aim to bring transparency and fairness to the road haulage sector.

 A fundamental change lies in the introduction of the minimum basic service charge, which will be determined not only by the cost of road tolls, but also by additional transport costs such as fuel standards and differentials based on fuel standards.

From 28 January, parties can now mutually agree on the haulier’s involvement in loading, with the carrier being entitled to charge a loading and pallet sorting fee. Starting from a minimum of HUF 10,975 (approx. €28.47) per hour, this fee covers the period from readiness for collection or delivery to the completion of loading. The charging structure is based on each hour started, ensuring that carriers are adequately compensated for their time.

It should be noted that such an agreement is optional and not mandatory.

Idle time, defined as the period exceeding one hour after the agreed loading time, is now subject to a separate charge. This downtime charge, HUF 8636 (approx. €22.4) per hour, is intended to address inefficiencies and is confirmed in writing by the relevant party or substantiated by other credible means.

Strict rules will also be introduced to limit the number of transport subcontractors involved in a given task, in order to speed up the allocation of work to the companies actually providing the services. Deviations from this rule are possible but require mutual agreement between the parties.

Loading responsibilities also clarified

In the context of Hungary’s road transport reforms, several key aspects deserve attention:

  • the sender’s obligation to load the goods and the recipient’s responsibility for unloading are key components. Any deviation from these norms must be clearly set out in the contract and the conditions for participation in loading must be specified.
  • to ensure fair compensation, the freight charge must be at least equal to the minimum basic service charge. This provision protects carriers from receiving inadequate compensation for their services.
  • hauliers benefiting from legal exemptions of road charges may find that certain provisions relating to the minimum basic service charge do not apply to them. This introduces a degree of flexibility to take account of specific circumstances.
  • contracts between postal service providers and senders must comply with a minimum standard. Freight charges in such agreements should not be less than the heaviest item sent plus one and a half times the charge specified in the postal service contract.
  • the rules also include tolls, motorway infrastructure charges and general sales tax in the overall calculation of charges, thus promoting a comprehensive approach.

It is important to point out that these new measures will only be applied to companies that are registered in Hungary.