Key changes for the road transport industry in Europe in 2021

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Key changes for the road transport industry in Europe in 2021

A new year inevitably means new rules and regulations. This is most certainly true of the road transport industry, and 2021 is no exception.

Here is a summary of just some of the key changes that are in place or will be introduced later in the year:

Minimum wage increases


On January 1, 2021, the minimum gross hourly wage in France increases by about 1% to EUR 10.25 (from EUR 10.15 after the increase in January 2020). The gross monthly salary is slightly above EUR 1,554.


According to Dutch regulations, collective agreements (the so-called CAO) for the transport and logistics industry apply only to Dutch businesses. Foreign carriers must apply generally applicable minimum wage rates to posted drivers. The statutory minimum (gross) wage from the beginning of 2021 for a person over the age of 21 is EUR 1,648 per month (EUR 388 per week and EUR 78 per day).

Below we present the minimum (gross) hourly rates applicable from 2021.

Employee aged 21 and older An employee aged 20 Employee aged 19 Employee aged 18
36-hour working week 10.80 euros EUR 10.24 6.49 euros 5.40 euros
38-hour working week EUR 10.24 8.19 euros 6.14 euros 5.12 euros
40-hour working week EUR 10.24 7.78 euros 5.84 euros 4.86 euro


Drivers carrying out transport in Germany (cabotage, international transport with unloading or loading in Germany and loading or partial unloading in this country) can expect an increase at the beginning of 2021. Carriers, however, must expect higher costs due to the increase in rates.

On January 1, 2021, the minimum wage in Germany increases to EUR 9.50 per hour. The statutory minimum wage should be gradually increased to EUR 10.45 gross per hour, and another increase should be expected in six months. On July 1, 2021, this amount will be EUR 9.60.

The next increase in the minimum wage in Germany will take place on January 1, 2022, and the hourly wage will then increase to EUR 9.82. The final stage of the salary increase is scheduled for July 1, 2022. Then the salary in Germany will increase to EUR 10.45 per hour.

Regulations governing road transport of goods

Mandatory system for registering transports in Denmark

As we reported last month, Denmark shall introduce a new minimum wage for all lorry drivers working within the country as of January 1st. In order to monitor compliance with this act, the Danish authorities require transports to be registered first.

All carriers and hauliers, both Danish and foreign, will soon have to pay their drivers DKK 164.96 (22.15 euros) an hour while they are working in Denmark. This includes cabotage operations.

In order to ensure compliance with the regulations, foreign companies that want to operate in the country will have to report each transport service in advance to the Danish Commercial Authority online via a new system dedicated to foreign transport.

The service has now been launched, and can be accessed here.
It is possible to register transports up to 7 days before they happen, or on the day of the transport itself at the latest. Once registering the transport, a PDF file will be created. This documentation must be available on board each lorry so that it can be presented to the police or the road traffic authorities. Compliance with the new rules will be subject to roadside checks, so having the documents at hand is important.

Police have said that they will not strictly enforce the rules in the first three months of the year. However, it naturally makes sense for hauliers to start using the system now and to avoid the possibility of being subject to a fine.

Those who haven’t used the system and don’t have the documents could end up being fined as much as 10,000 Danish Crowns, which is around 1,345 euros.

New regulations governing special transport in Germany

On January 1, 2021, the amendment to the Road Traffic Act (StVO) enters into force in Germany, and with it changes regarding special transport (heavy and oversized transport). The new German regulations have an adverse impact on many foreign carriers in terms of permanent permits throughout the country. Foreign companies that do not have a branch in Germany can no longer obtain nationwide permanent permits.

In addition, the model for calculating fees for obtaining permits also changes from the beginning of 2021 and huge increases are to be expected.

New requirements for trucks and new bans

Use of CB radios in Germany

In Germany, the national transport association has announced that drivers can continue to use CB radio while behind the wheel until 30th June 2021.

The Federal Council (Bundesrat), when voting on the amendments to the new Highway Code in November of 2020, once again decided to extend the transition period during which the use of hand-held CB radios is permitted while driving.

As a reminder, in October 2017, the Highway Code was tightened in Germany. At the time, the use of devices while driving, including mobile phones, smartphones, smartwatches, MP3 players, tablets, laptops, recorders and discmans, was banned.

The amendment also concerned CB-radio, but in this case there was a transitional period which was to end on July 1st 2020. Due to strong opposition from the industry, including transport associations, as well as the insufficient availability of high-tech CB-radio models allowing for hands-free use, the Bundesrat decided to postpone the enforcement of the ban for more than six months, i.e. until 30th June 2021.

Meanwhile, most German federal states have decided to temporarily abstain from monitoring compliance with the ban.

France’s blind spot sticker requirements

As of January 1st 2021, all heavy vehicles in France (both goods and passenger transport vehicles) must be fitted with a sign to inform others about their vehicle’s blind spots. Failure to comply with this obligation may result in a 4th class fine which is usually 136 euros but in a worst-case scenario, it can be as much as 750 euros.

As part of the French government’s efforts to decrease the number of accidents on the roads, the new regulation applies in the country from January 1st.

Heavy vehicles over 3,5 tonnes have to be fitted with an infographic sticker informing other road-users about their vehicle’s blind spots. The sticker (or stickers) must be visible from the sides and the rear of the vehicles according to the decree published by the French Ministry of Ecological Transition on November 20th.


Stricter emissions standards in London

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the London Transport for London -TfL has postponed the entry into force of more stringent standards in the LEZ ( Low Emission Zone) . Originally, from October 26 this year. the stricter standards of the London Low Emission Zone were to come into force . Ultimately, this date was postponed to March 1, 2021.

The current LEZ emission standards set a limit on the amount of particulate matter (PM) a vehicle emits. Stricter standards will also set a limit for nitrogen oxides (NOx) for some vehicles. Following the entry into force of the changes, heavy goods vehicles will have to meet Euro VI emissions standards (NOx and PM) or pay a daily toll for driving in Greater London, which includes the capital and 32 municipalities.

From March 1, you will have to pay a fee for driving into the region with a GVW over 3.5 tonnes that does not meet the following standards:

– if the vehicle is not Euro 6 compliant (NOx and PM), it will be subject to a £ 100 daily charge,

– if the vehicle does not meet Euro 4 (PM), it will be subject to a daily charge of £ 300.

In addition to the changes that appear above, the method of penalizing carriers for not complying with the requirements will also change:

– there will be a £ 1,000 fine (if paid within 14 days, it will be reduced to £ 500) for Euro 4 but not Euro 6 vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 3.5 tonnes;

– a further penalty will be £ 2,000 (if paid within 14 days, this will be reduced to £ 1,000) for Euro 4 vehicles over 3.5 tonnes GVW that are not properly registered and have not paid the fee

Changes to France’s winter tyre regulations in November

The French Ministry of the Interior has published changes to regulations on the use of winter tyres in the country’s mountainous regions.

Winter chains or tires will be mandatory from November 1st, 2021 in mountainous areas, reports the French Road Safety Agency (Sécurité routière).

The prefects of 48 departments located in the mountain ranges (The Alps, Corsica, Central Massif, Jura Massif, Pyrenees, Vosges Massif) will now have to draw up a list of municipalities where the new vehicle equipment requirement will apply in winter, i.e. from November 1st to March 31st.

Work on the regulations has lasted over five years, and the order will come into force next year. Until now, it was only obligatory to use snow chains on roads in France marked with a road sign and only when they were covered with snow.

The new regulations will require light commercial vehicles, as well as trucks without a trailer or semi-trailer, to have 4 winter tires (marked as M + S / MS / M & S) or to install snow chains on two driving wheels, reports the French carrier organization OTRE.

In addition, trucks with a trailer or semi-trailer must have snow chains that allow them to be mounted on at least two driving wheels – even if they have winter tires.

Traffic bans for heavy goods vehicles

Night traffic ban on the A12 in Tyrol

The night-time ban on heavy goods vehicles on the A12 motorway in Tirol allows for some exceptions. However, they are to expire at the end of this year.

Night traffic is banned on the A12 in Brenner in both directions between 6 km (near Langkampfen) and 90 km (Zirl). The ban covers trucks and articulated vehicles with a maximum gross vehicle weight of more than 7.5 t, as well as trucks and self-propelled machinery with trailers where the gross vehicle weight exceeds 7.5 t.

Depending on the season, these vehicles cannot use the route during the following hours:

– from May to October from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weekdays and from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Sundays and public holidays,

– from November to April, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weekdays and from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Sundays and public holidays.

Pursuant to local legislation (LGBl. 64/2010 as amended by LGBl. 62/2016), certain exceptions are permitted. Exempted from the ban are heavy duty vehicles meeting the Euro 6 emission standard (provided that the Euroclass is confirmed by the vehicle’s appropriate marking in accordance with the IG-L regulation on the marking of emission classes). However, this exception expires on 31 December 2020.

From the beginning of 2021, only the following will be exempted from night-time traffic restrictions:

– transports carrying predominantly perishable food with a shelf life of only a few days, or periodic printed materials (newspapers and magazines),

– transport necessary for the provision of emergency medical care,

– transport of live animals,

– transport related to the construction and reconstruction of road infrastructure on the A12 and A13 motorways, the development of railway infrastructure on the Munich-Verona route or the construction of the Brennerbasistunnel railway tunnel,

– towing vehicles and roadside assistance,

– transport subject to loading or transhipment to rail transport to or from the railway terminals in Hall and Wörgl, provided that such suitable transport documentation is available.

Bans on polluters

As a reminder, on the same section of the Tirol motorway (A12 between Langkampfen and Zirl in both directions) there are traffic bans on heavy goods vehicles over 7.5 t in the lowest emission classes. This concerns trucks that meet Euro 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 standards, and from 1 January 2021 also Euro Class 5.

Journeys as part of combined transport for the purpose of rail loading (provided that suitable documentation is available) are nonetheless exempt in the following cases:

– to the Hall railway terminal (access possible only in the eastern direction, departure in the western direction),

– to the Wörgl railway terminal (access possible only in the western direction, departure in the eastern direction).


There are naturally a number of changes entailed by Brexit.

The key rules from the UK-EU trade deal relating to road transport can be found here. We have also written guides on required documents (here) and the Kent Access Permit (here).

Photo credits: Gordon JohnsonPixabay + Rolf van Melis / Wikimedia Commons

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