Vehicles exempt from EU Rules

Some vehicles are exempt from EU Rules which means they would more than likely fall under the GB Domestic rules see below vehicles exempt from EU rules.

Vehicles exempt from EU Rules

Vehicles not capable of exceeding 40 km/ h

For example, some works vehicles fall into this category.

Also includes vehicles incapable of exceeding 40 km/ h by virtue of a set speed limiter.

Vehicles owned or hired without a driver by the Armed Forces, civil defense services, fire services, and forces responsible for maintaining public order when the carriage is undertaken as a consequence of the tasks assigned to these services and is under their control.

The above does not apply to commercial operators contracted by these bodies.

Vehicles, including vehicles used in the non-commercial transport of humanitarian aid, used in emergencies or rescue operations.

The EU rules do not define an ‘emergency’ but we consider this would certainly include any of the situations that would be considered an emergency for the purposes of the GB domestic drivers’ hours legislation, namely a situation where immediate preventative action is needed to avoid the following:

danger to the life or health of people or animals, serious interruption of essential public services (gas, water, electricity or drainage), of telecommunication and postal services, or in the use of roads, railways, ports or airports, or serious damage to property.

Vehicles used in connection with emergency or rescue operations would be exempt from the EU rules for the duration of the emergency.

The important aspect of humanitarian aid is that it only applies to transport carried out on a non-commercial basis e.g. transportation of donated clothes, food parcels, etc.

The aid supplied must however be in direct response to an emergency or rescue operation.
Specialised vehicles used for medical purposes.

For example, mobile chest x-ray units, Specialised breakdown vehicles operating within a 100 km radius of their base.

‘Specialised breakdown vehicle’ was interpreted by the European Court as a vehicle whose construction, fitments, and other permanent characteristics were such that it would be used mainly for removing vehicles that had recently been involved in an accident or broken down.

Vehicles undergoing road tests for technical development, repair or maintenance purposes, and new or rebuilt vehicles which have not yet been put into service.

This doesn’t apply to vehicles normally falling in the scope of EU rules but which are on journeys to or from testing stations for the purposes of an annual test.

Vehicles or combinations of vehicles with a maximum permissible mass not exceeding 7.5 tonnes are used for the non-commercial carriage of goods.

Some examples could include a person moving house and goods carried by a non-profit making group or registered charity.

European Court of Justice case law provides that the term non-commercial also applies to the carriage of goods by a private individual for their own purposes purely as part of a hobby where that hobby is in part financed by financial contributions from external persons or undertakings and where no payment is made for the carriage of goods.

Commercial vehicles that have a historic status according to the legislation of the Member State in which they are driven and that are used for the non-commercial carriage of goods.

In Britain, a vehicle is a historic vehicle if it was manufactured more than 25 years before the occasion on which it is being driven.

Vehicles or combinations of vehicles with a maximum permissible mass not exceeding 7.5 tonnes that are used for carrying materials, equipment or machinery for the driver’s use in the course of their work and which are used only within a 100 km radius from the base of the undertaking and on the condition that driving the vehicle does not constitute the driver’s main activity.

This would apply to tradesmen such as electricians or builders carrying tools or materials for their own use.

European Commission special authorisation exemptions

The following vehicles are exempt from the EU rules in Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) after the European Commission granted a special authorisation:

any vehicle which is being used by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution
any vehicle that was manufactured before 1 January 1947
any vehicle that is propelled by steam


The EU rules grant Member States the power to apply derogation’s to further specific categories of vehicles and drivers while on national only journeys.

The following derogation’s have been implemented in the UK.

In some cases, it may be necessary to refer to case law for definitive interpretations.

Vehicles owned or hired without a driver by public authorities that do not compete with private transport undertakings.

The derogation only applies to vehicles being used:

for the provision of ambulance services by or at the request of an NHS body
for the transport of organs, blood, equipment, medical supplies or personnel by or at the request of an NHS body
by a local authority to provide services for old people or for mentally or physically handicapped people or
by HM Coastguard or a general or local lighthouse authority
for maintaining railways by:
the British Railways Board
any holder of a network licence which is a company wholly owned by the Crown
Transport for London (or a wholly-owned subsidiary)
a Passenger Transport Executive
a local authority
by the British Waterways Board for the purpose of maintaining navigable waterways

Vehicles used or hired without a driver by agricultural, horticultural, forestry, farming or fishery undertakings for carrying goods as part of their own entrepreneurial activity within a radius of 100 km from the base of the undertaking.

This applies only to those who are an undertaking related to (ie in the business of) the activities of agricultural, horticultural, forestry, farming, or fishery and are transporting goods in relation to that business. If an organisation has a division for one of the listed activities then the derogation would apply only to that division. If an organisation as a whole is neither an undertaking, nor has a separate division relating to the listed activities, but it nonetheless operates vehicles occasionally for such purposes the derogation would not apply to its use of vehicles for those occasional purposes.

For a vehicle used by a horticulture undertaking, the derogation would apply to the carriage of goods relating to the small-scale management of non-built-up land and which have a tangible link to horticulture so would include the carriage of plants, hard landscaping and fencing materials, and related tools.

For a vehicle used by fishery undertakings, the derogation only applies if it is being used to carry live fish or to carry a catch of fish from the place of landing to a place where it is to be processed.

The term ‘fish’ includes finfish and shellfish.

Agricultural tractors and forestry tractors are used for agricultural or forestry activities within a 100 km radius from the base of the undertaking that owns, hires, or leases the tractor.

Vehicles that are used to carry live animals between a farm and a market or from a market to a slaughterhouse where the distance between the farm and the market or between the market and the slaughterhouse does not exceed 100 km.

Vehicles being used to carry animal waste or carcasses that are not intended for human consumption.

The derogation applies to the carriage of animal waste or carcasses, including fallen stock, from farms and abattoirs. “Animal waste” is deemed to be a substance or object that is discarded or is intended or required to be discarded and a “carcass” to mean the body of a dead animal.

The derogation doesn’t apply to animal-derived products nor to waste from supermarkets, shops, etc.
Specially fitted mobile project vehicles, the primary purpose of which is used as an educational facility when stationary.

example: play buses and mobile libraries.

Vehicles or combinations of vehicles with a maximum permissible mass not exceeding 7.5 tonnes.

This refers to those that are used by universal service providers as defined in Article 2(13) of Directive 96/67/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 December 1997 on common rules for the development of the internal market of Community postal services and the improvement of quality service to deliver items as part of the universal service.

These vehicles shall be used only within a 100 km radius of the base of the undertaking and on the condition that driving the vehicle does not constitute the driver’s main activity.

Currently, the only universal service provider in the UK is the Royal Mail.

Universal service provider vehicles must have a tachograph fitted.

Vehicles operated exclusively on islands whose area does not exceed 2,300 square kilometres and that are not linked to the rest of Great Britain by a bridge, ford, or tunnel open for use by a motor vehicle.

Vehicles used for the carriage of goods within a 100 km radius from the base of the undertaking and propelled by means of natural or liquefied gas or electricity, the maximum permissible mass of which, including the mass of a trailer or semi-trailer, does not exceed 7.5 tonnes.

Vehicles used for driving instruction and examination with a view to obtaining a driving licence or a certificate of professional competence provided that they are not being used for the commercial carriage of goods or passengers.

Includes instruction for renewal of Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).

Vehicles used in connection with sewerage, flood protection, water, gas, and electricity maintenance services, road maintenance or control, door-to-door household refuse collection or disposal, telegraph or telephone services, radio or television broadcasting, and the detection of radio or television transmitters or receivers.

There have been a number of significant court rulings from the European Court of Justice and British courts dealing with this exemption.

Common themes have included a direct and close involvement in the exempt activity; the principle of a general service in the public interest; and the limited and secondary nature of the transport activity.

It’s DVSA’s view that vehicles used in connection with sewerage, flood protection, water, gas and electricity services must be involved in the maintenance of an existing service (rather than the construction of a new service) to claim the concession.

For vehicles used in connection with sewerage maintenance services the term “maintenance” also applies to the removal of waste from a system but only where the waste is removed directly onto the vehicle and immediately taken away for treatment.

This would also include transporting partially treated sewage from satellite sites to main sites.

The derogation doesn’t apply to the movement of sewage sludge which has been treated to make a product that is then used for another purpose such as, for example, fertiliser.

The types of refuse collection and disposal operations likely to be exempt are:

the door-to-door collection or from communal waste points of domestic waste such as black bin bags, green waste, garden waste, newspapers, or glass from households
the collection of sofas and household appliances from households within a local area
the clearing of a home following a bereavement provided refuse collection and disposal is the core purpose.

The derogation will also apply to the collection of the domestic type waste from commercial premises but would not extend to collecting commercial waste, for example, waste generated by a manufacturing process.

Vehicles used in connection with road maintenance services which:

are engaged on a journey directly relating to the maintenance services, for example, removing rubble or other materials or
are being used directly on the maintenance activity, for example, laying tarmac.

These will fall within this derogation however journeys to a site for the purpose of positioning the vehicle in readiness for engaging in the maintenance activity or for returning to base after the maintenance activity has ended will not fall within this derogation.

Vehicles that are to be used or have been used that same day in connection with highway maintenance and control and don’t travel far from the site where the work of highway maintenance is being carried out will fall within the derogation.

Specialised vehicles transporting circus and funfair equipment.

A recent court judgment determined that in order for catering vehicles or trailers to be able to use this derogation they must be specialised.

In the case of a specialised trailer, it isn’t necessary for the drawing vehicle to also be specialised. This means that a vehicle towing a catering/refreshment trailer would be deemed to be specialised as the trailer itself is specialised.

However, a vehicle or trailer without any special features for carrying (rather than towing) a catering kiosk wouldn’t be deemed to be specialised.

A vehicle (with or without a trailer) transporting catering kiosks or any other equipment used for a purpose directly connected to a circus or funfair which is going to, for example, a local market, car boot sale, sporting event, shopping centre car park etc would not be entitled to claim this derogation.

Being a member of a guild or association (such as the Showman’s Guild or the Circus Proprietors Association) does not in itself give exemption to the EC drivers’ hours requirements as the equipment carried must still be funfair or circus equipment.

Vehicles used for milk collection from farms or the return to farms of milk containers or milk products intended for animal feed.

Vehicles used exclusively on roads inside hub facilities such as ports, airports, inter-ports, and railway terminals.

This applies only to those vehicles being used within the perimeter of these areas (rather than those driving to or through the areas), although we accept that these vehicles may occasionally leave the site for vehicle maintenance purposes.

Concession for members of a volunteer force and instructors in the Cadet Corps

There is also a concession in place from the daily and weekly rest requirements specified in the EU drivers’ hours regulations for professional drivers who are also members of a volunteer reserve force (e.g the Army Reserve) or are an instructor in the Cadet Corps.

The conditions of the concession are:

a suspension of the requirement to take a daily rest period within a period of 24 hours when the driver commenced the weekly training as a reservist or as an instructor in the cadet corps.
a suspension of the requirement to take a weekly rest period at the end of the six 24 hour periods from the previous weekly rest period when the driver commences their driving as a reservist or as an instructor in the cadet corps.

a regular daily rest must still be taken before they start work for their primary employer and a regular weekly rest must be taken no later than at the end of the sixth day following training
the exception is limited to a maximum of: 10 weekend training sessions and fifteen days’ annual camp training in any year.

drivers must not attend weekend training sessions on any two consecutive weekends
drivers must not attend any annual camp training that takes place over the weekend that immediately follows a weekend training session that the driver has attended.

drivers must not attend a weekend training session on the weekend that immediately follows any annual camp training that the driver has attended.

drivers must not attend any annual camp training that takes place over the weekend that immediately follows the end of an earlier period of annual camp training that the driver has attended.

A regular daily rest period of at least eleven hours must be taken immediately following the end of each weekend training session and at the end of each period of annual camp training.

A regular weekly rest period of a least forty-five hours must be taken no later than the end of the sixth day following the end of the day on which a weekend training session or, as the case may be, a period of annual camp training ends.

No such concessions are available for those undertaking retained fire and rescue work or volunteer police work so activities of that nature can only be undertaken if they do not impact on legally required daily and weekly rest periods or if the situation is deemed to be an emergency as detailed Emergencies.

If it is exempt from the EU rules due to the provisions listed above then the vehicle will usually be in scope of the GB domestic rules when traveling in Great Britain.

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