While the government continues to claim that Brexit negotiations “are progressing well”, it has now published further documents which outline the potential consequences of a ‘No deal’ scenario, including a warning about the possibility of serious implications for coach trips to Europe beyond 29 March 2019.
If there’s no deal, the government warns that UK bus and coach operators could no longer rely on automatic recognition by the EU of UK-issued Community Licences (O licences). “EU countries may choose to recognise that UK-issued operator licences and associated authorisations are based on the same standards as EU Community Licences and not require further authorisations,” according to the document. “This would ensure continued passenger movement, but cannot be guaranteed.”
The UK currently participates in the Interbus Agreement, since the EU as a whole is a member. This agreement allows bus and coach operators to carry out occasional services (including coach tours and holidays) between the participating countries. In addition to the EU countries there are 7 eastern European members: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Turkey and Ukraine.
The UK intends to join the Interbus Agreement before or soon after 29 March 2019 as an independent member. Requirements on operators would be largely the same as the current EU rights – for example, a waybill would need to be carried. Unlike the EU rules, Interbus does not allow cabotage, so a UK operator would not be able to undertake work entirely within the EU.
UK drivers will continue to be able to drive in all EU countries after we have left, under the Geneva and Vienna Conventions, but this may now require an International Driving Permit to be obtained before departure and carried whilst driving for both commercial and private purposes in the EU.
The government has confirmed that it will maintain the transport manager and driver CPC schemes, and EU-issued CPC documentation will be recognised in the UK after we leave the EU. This includes both transport manager CPCs and driver CPCs. If there is no deal, automatic recognition by EU countries of UK-issued CPCs would cease, but if the UK joins the Interbus Agreement, UK bus and coach drivers holding a UK CPC would be able to drive for work in the EU.
The document says: “If there is any delay to the UK joining Interbus (for example, if there is a time gap between 29 March 2019 and Interbus coming into force) then, as with Community Licences, EU countries may choose to continue to recognise UK-issued CPC in practice, but this cannot be guaranteed”.
The government advice suggests that UK operators who are taking travel bookings which involve coach travel in Europe after 29 March 2019 may wish to consider contractual terms with their customers that allow them to subcontract all or part of the coach travel to EU-based operators if necessary.
On the question of contracts, the Confederation of Passenger Transport also suggests that operators may wish to also consider contractual terms with customers which could limit liability to compensation and recommends operators obtain legal advice. CPT points out that in the airline industry, which faces a similar risk from a no-deal scenario, some operators are selling tickets for travel after 29 March with a clause that limits their liability to a refund in the event of it being impossible for them to carry the passenger for the journey they have booked.
CPT has also warned that other important questions remain unanswered, including whether British coach drivers will need working visas or work permits.
For full details see the government document, in addition to related ‘No deal’ documents on driving, vehicle insurance and trading:
Operating bus or coach services abroad if there’s no Brexit deal
Driving in the EU if there’s no Brexit deal
Vehicle insurance if there’s no Brexit deal
Trading with the EU if there’s no Brexit deal